The Grace Solution
Let your speech always be gracious, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:6 (NASB)
When the home healthcare provider came to our house to treat my husband’s wound for the first time, she washed it with gauze that had been moistened with saline solution. Then she took a piece of sterilized foam, soaked in saline solution, and packed the wound. As she replaced the bandage, I asked, “Why aren’t you using any ointment to help speed the healing process?”
“The saline solution will prevent infection and promote healing,” she said. “It’s the best thing to use.”
Because of its purifying and protective qualities, salt has been used for thousands of years to treat wounds. For an equally long time, people have used it to preserve and flavor food. Paul chose salt as a metaphor for grace in Colossians 4, suggesting that grace is a multi-purpose agent that enhances our lives and witness in many ways.
Paul had just given specific counsel about marital and family relationships (3:18-21) and work relationships (3:22-4:1). Obviously, gracious speech preserves those relationships and helps heal them when they’ve been injured.
But in 4:5, the apostle specifically mentioned our interaction with “outsiders”—those who have not accepted Christ as Savior. Being wise in the way we act in their presence, as ambassadors of Jesus Christ, is of paramount importance. Paul linked wise walking to gracious talking—words that preserve relationships, prevent infection, and promote healing. Grace-laced words also flavor relationships, enhancing their enjoyment by improving their distinctive qualities.
Think about the “outsiders” God has placed in your life—family members, neighbors, co-workers. Would they characterize their interaction with you as healing and healthful? Do they look forward to conversations with you as if they’ve been invited to a feast of their favorite foods?
God has called us to “serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). Serving others—especially those who have not yet accepted God’s gift of salvation—with gracious speech is salty talk that may very well lead them toward saving faith.
Healthcare professionals know how beneficial saline solution can be to a person’s physical well-being. Are we equally aware of how beneficial the grace solution is to someone’s spiritual well-being?
In your interactions with others today, apply a liberal amount of the grace solution to your words, actions, and attitudes. It’s the best thing to use.
In Colossians 4:2, Paul encouraged the Colossians to “devote themselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” How can attention to prayer, watchfulness, and thankfulness help us move toward grace-filled speech?
The apostle John described Jesus as “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Review Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus (John 3) or the Samaritan woman (John 4). What can we learn about speaking with grace and truth from these conversations?
Does gracious speech seem like an impossible goal? Take heart and claim the promises our gracious God gives in Exodus 4:12 and Matthew 10:19-20.
For more on salt and its symbolism in the Bible, read Salt under Dig into Words and Salt of the Earth in the Beatitude Series.
Denise K. Loock