Most culinary schools tell us that we should season food with salt “early” in the cooking process, not just at the end. The reason is that salt penetrates food slowly when cold and therefore, seasoning with salt early in the process produces more flavor. Perhaps that’s why Paul told us to do the same with our speech when it comes to personal evangelism.
Col 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. ESV
How we speak and what we say can bless or curse, crate or destroy, as was well put by James…
James 3:5-6 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. ESV
Let’s take a moment and look at that expression “seasoned with salt” as it relates to our personal ministry of sharing the gospel.
Let your speech always be gracious.
We all know that how we speak is vitally important, but so often we take short cuts in communicating and in sharing the gospel it almost always involves our forgetting to speak with a loving spirit. It’s too easy to take shortcuts, presenting a formula or a plan to win another, without taking the trouble and the time to make friends. Maxie Dunnam puts it this way… “If you want a formula, here is the best one I know: make a friend; be a friend; win a friend to Christ.”
Let your speech be seasoned with salt.
Salty speech is earthy, it’s rooted in where we live and is personal. In our context, it is the “honest” sharing of what Jesus has done and is doing in our life. In the Greek, the expression – seasoned with salt – was used for sparkling up conversation. Our conversation should always contain the earthy language of where we live, where we are and who we’re sharing with … the flavor that Jesus gives our life.
Know how you ought to answer each person.
When we are sharing the gospel we need to stay focused on the person with whom we’re sharing; their needs, concerns, hopes, desires. We need to discover the specialness of the person and “salty language” does that, just as salt brings out the flavor in our food. Give the person your full attention at the outset as their agenda is far more important than your prepared salvation message. Remember, it’s the Holy Spirit who draws and saves. We’re just the messenger and how we deliver the message is critical. If we respect the person, they will respect us and hear what we have to say… when the time is ripe for us to say it.
The bottom line for us is to always remember that speech with grace is the way to reach the heart of the hearer. After all, what we want to convey is the Word of God under the leading of the Holy Spirit. If our speech is pleasant, interesting, charming and “earthy,” we are far more likely to be heard as helpful, affirming, challenging, and inspiring. I once heard it expressed as a “gracious word” if we allow the Holy Spirit to put the right words on our lips when we need them. I am pretty sure if we follow that path He will season our word with salt.
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