When studying the life of Jesus, it is beneficial to notice the different ways that He responded to various people and scenarios. Each time, our Lord spoke and acted perfectly. Take for instance, the discussion with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus knew how to start a conversation by saying “Give me to drink” (John 4:7). This initial interaction led to a discourse between a Jew and a Samaritan woman, which was highly unusual for that time. By speaking the way that He did, Jesus was able to teach her about “living water”, marriage, and worship (John 4:10,16-18, 21-23). Not only that, but the woman was then able to go and tell others, who eventually came to Christ (John 4:28-30). All of that stemmed from Jesus’ ability to speak and behave appropriately. Imagine what the record would be if Jesus had approached the woman differently. What if Jesus had been hateful or uncaring toward the woman? She might have become defensive and obstinate. Others might not have come to Jesus. All of that could have happened if Jesus had not spoken properly. Would we not love to be able to say, and do, the right things at the right times? How many of us can recall a time when we said something that we wish we had not said? Perhaps it was a hurtful word out of anger. Maybe it was an emotional comment made in haste. No doubt, damage was done! That is why we need to heed God’s instruction when it comes to how, and what, we say. Paul wrote, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Col. 4:6).
Ah, “seasoned with salt”! There is the challenge that we must all face. I learned the importance of salt at a younger age. I can remember a time when my mother had been shopping and had gotten a certain kind of ketchup. This ketchup was not the same ketchup that was usually purchased. I am not sure if my mother did not pay close attention while shopping that day, or if she intentionally chose to buy ketchup with “no salt added”. Well, eventually it came time for the “no salt added” ketchup to be used. I quickly learned how badly something can taste when it has no salt! To this day, I still do not want ketchup that has “no salt added”. That one instance without salt has affected my entire life since. How many people have been negatively affected in their lives because a Christian did not “season” his words? Some have been so upset that they have an awful perception of the church of Christ. We must strive to keep these things from happening!
It would be good to mention that I am in no way advocating a compromise of Scripture. We still need to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2). It is still true that “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God…”, and we should still “…sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 4:11; 3:15). However, maybe it is the manner in which we attempt to fulfill these responsibilities that is the problem. By inspiration, Jude explained, “And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” (Jude 22-23). We will reach some individuals better by speaking with “compassion”. Others, we will reach better by “dangling their feet over the fire”. Each potential convert is different from others. We need to learn the best approach for them all.
In closing, maybe this will help. Can we remember a time when someone approached us without “seasoning” his words? How much of an impact did it make on us? Did it cause problems? Would things be different if the person had been more tactful and thoughtful? If we did not like “unseasoned” speech used against us, then we should endeavor to make sure that we do not use such with others. We should remember two important things. “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets”, and “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matt. 7:12; 5:13).
~ Corey Barnette