TO CHEW ON: "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one." Colossians 4:6
When Paul told his readers that their speech was to be "seasoned with salt" I don't think he was instructing them to vent rage or sprinkle their conversation with coarse or racy words. So what does it mean to season one's speech with salt (metaphorically, of course)?
We know salt has two main uses:
- Seasoning: As a seasoning agent, just a little is usually enough. Salt enhances other flavours, it doesn't seek to be the star of the food. Too much salt in a dish and we can't eat it.
- Preservative: When we don't have the means to can or freeze, meat or fish is preserved with salt. Apparently salt doesn't burn either.
Salt in the Bible:
- Salt was part of the OT sacrifices and symbolic of Yahweh's covenant with Israel: "And every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your offerings you shall offer salt."
What did this salt symbolize? Different commenters speak of it in slightly different ways:
- Reformation Study Bible: "Probably because it is indestructible by fire, salt symbolizes the enduring covenant between God and Israel" (accessed through Study Tools on biblegateway.com).
- Asbury Bible Commentary: "Salt of the covenant: emphasizes the binding character of God's covenant with His people" (accessed through Study Tools on biblegateway.com).
- Jesus referred to that salty sacrifice and told the disciples they needed salt in themselves: “'For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another'” Mark 9:49,50.
- And here Paul tells his readers to season their speech with salt - Colossians 4:6
Matthew Henry's commentary ties these passages together.
"Among the ancients salt was a symbol of friendship. The salt for the sacrifice was not brought by the offerers, but was provided at the public charge, as the wood was, Ezra 7:20-22. And there was a chamber in the court of the temple called the chamber of salt, in which they laid it up. Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? God would hereby intimate to them that their sacrifices in themselves were unsavoury.
"The saints, who are living sacrifices to God, must have salt in themselves, for every sacrifice must be salted with salt (Mark 9:49, 50), and our speech must be always with grace (Col. 4:6), so must all our religious performances be seasoned with that salt. Christianity is the salt of the earth" - Matthew Henry's Commentary (accessed through Study Tools on biblegateway.com).
Applying this salt metaphor to speech, we might say that for the Christ follower, speech seasoned with the salt:
- Reflects the possibility of a relationship with God (covenant).
- Includes the fact that we are His forever (the binding character of that relationship).
- Communicates that this relationship preserves from judgment (preservative).
- Is seasoning—just a bit is enough; it doesn't need to overpower or dominate all we say. But neither should we leave it out.
PRAYER: Dear Father, Help me to learn how to season my speech with the salt of the above, and deliver what I say with grace. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.