God’s Word for You
Colossians 4:6 don’t forget the salt
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, October 12, 2019
6 Let your speech always be in grace and seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone.
“In grace” is often translated “graciously” or “full of grace.” This translation is more wooden and literal, “in (the sphere of) grace” (ἐν χάριτι). This could be taken in a secular sense, being polite, and Christians should strive for being polite whenever possible. But “in grace” is modified by “seasoned with salt.” Salt makes something palatable; without salt, many things we eat are downright unpleasant. When we carry this idea into speech, we realize that Paul is talking partly about making our speech mean something, something that leads people toward Christ, and partly about the other qualities of salt. As Professor Irwin Habeck said, “Salt smarts but it also counteracts corruption” (Use of ἅλας and Cognates in the New Testament, p. 4). Seen this way, “salt” here is the proper use of Law and Gospel, in which the Law condemns us and shows us the depth of our guilt and the need we all have for a Savior to rescue us, and in which the Gospel reveals our Savior to be Jesus Christ. This is the salt of the Gospel preserving us and ‘counteracting corruption.’
In this way, salt and grace are a way of saying, bring the right words. This goes hand in hand with the verse before: “Walk wisely and make good use of the moment” (Colossians 4:5). Does someone need to hear the law? Speak the law. The sinner will run in terror at the sound of a windblown leaf (Leviticus 26:36); don’t be afraid of their reaction to your words. Let God take care of that. Does someone need the comfort of the gospel? Comfort them with the good news of Jesus. Tell them that their debt of guilt is paid already in the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13). Does someone need a passage explained? Explain it if you can, embracing your childhood faith, and if you can’t, point them to someone who can.
However, whenever and wherever you interact with someone, don’t neglect the salt of God’s grace for that moment when you can sprinkle on a dash. It might be a matter of eternal life and eternal death. Give thanks to God for the grace he showed you, and wherever you go, whatever you say, don’t forget the salt.
Pastor Timothy Smith
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