“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Over the last month or so there has been a bowl of salt sitting in our prayer room. Plain-old, every-day, ordinary salt may seem like an odd addition to a place of prayer. The whole bowl of salt cost less than $1! In our time and place, salt is readily available and inexpensive. We might even take salt for granted, after all when we sit down at the table whether at home or in a restaurant, it is most likely that there is a salt shaker near at hand.
Salt! We add simple, ordinary, inexpensive salt to bring out the fullness of flavor of the foods we eat. Salt has the ability to take what is bland and bring out the richness of flavor. While nowadays salt is easy to pick up from the grocery store and won’t make much of a dent in our wallets, in ancient times, salt was a valuable commodity. In addition to flavoring food, salt was used as a preservative, and as a way of sealing promises.
In his letter to the church at Colossae, Paul invites us to use the words that come out of our mouths, seasoning our conversations with grace like we use salt to season our food.
From our days on the playground, you may remember and oft repeated rhyme. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.” The rhyme is a sing song response to harsh, unkind words that may be tossed in our direction. The rhyme indicates words won’t hurt us, but most of us have been on the receiving end of words that wound and harm, sticking with us and doing much damage. Maybe we’ve all heard unkind, critical, judgmental words that feel like flaming arrows aimed at our hearts. They stick with us and continue to do their damage.
Words have the power to hurt or to heal. Words also have the power to build up, encourage, and affirm. The Apostle Paul has lots to say about words and the power of words. Writing to the church in Ephesus, Paul talks about the process of putting off the old self and putting on Christ, living the newness of life offered to us by the grace of God. Highlighting the power of words, Paul writes: ““Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen….Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” (Ephesians 4:29 and 5:4)
This week I was visiting with one of our church members and she was expressing dismay at some of the words she let slip out of her mouth. Even though she feels surrounded by love, she says, sometimes unkind words just seem to slip right past her lips. My response was, “Welcome to the world!” To offer life-giving words is a continual choice. To speak words that build up, encourage and affirm, is an ongoing choice. To seek to season conversation with grace is a challenge and a decision we make every time we open our mouths.
This week may our prayer be, “God season the words that come from my mouth with your grace. “