Sweet and Salty Speech
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:5-6 (ESV)
A friend once urged me to try a new drink at my local coffeehouse rather than the coconut mocha I usually order. When the barista cracked some sea salt on top of a mug of caramel hot cocoa and its mounds of whipped cream, I’ll admit, I was skeptical. But I trusted my friend’s advice and tried it and … Oh. My. Word. Who would’ve thought?
On the periodic table of elements (which I haven’t looked at since high school) it’s sodium chloride — NaCl. Salt is the number one flavor enhancer in the world and used in numerous cultures. In fact, over a quarter billion pounds of salt are produced each year.
Diners put a dash of salt on their casseroles, sprinkle it on piping hot potatoes and add a pinch or two to a bowl of soup. Salt is even added to sweet things to intensify their sweetness, thus the deliciousness overload of the salted caramel hot cocoa. My father always puts it on his slices of melon. And have you ever tasted dark chocolate with sea salt? Heavenly.
One time I forgot to add salt to a mint brownie recipe. When I tasted a bite, there was plenty of mint and cocoa powder, the two main flavors of the dish, but somehow it just didn’t taste right. Even though the recipe called for only half a teaspoon, omitting the salt ruined the normally delicious treat. It takes only a little salt to coax out the wonderful flavor of other things around it.
In today’s key verse from Colossians 4, we see our speech should be seasoned with salt and gracious. And we’re told to know how to give the right answer to everyone. Might it mean that we should ask ourselves if we are bringing out sweetness in both our choice of words and in our conversations with others — especially online conversations where we not only start a conversation but often give answers?
In the Sermon on the Mount, at one point, Jesus states: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot” (Matthew 5:13, NIV).
Maybe you’ve also wondered … just what does the phrase “the salt of the earth” mean?
Here are some other uses of salt and corresponding questions we can ask ourselves about exactly what salt does:
- Salt preserves. Do our words preserve God’s Word? Are we helping to improve a situation and keep decay from happening?
- Salt is valuable. Do our words add value to the conversation at hand, or are they empty and worthless?
- Salt purifies and softens. Are the words we utter pure and truthful? Are they soft and kind or harsh and hostile?
- Salt melts hard ice. Do we phrase our speech in such a way as to help melt an icy conversation and bring out the best in others?
- Salt prevents infection in a wound. When an interaction starts to turn ugly — either between you and another person or in a group situation — do your words try to help heal, preventing further toxicity from spreading?
- Too much salt ruins the soup. Although we’re called to season our speech with salt, too much salt will not only spoil the soup but can overpower a conversation as well.
So many uses for salt. So many applications for our speech. Before we use our words — in person, while texting or online — let’s grab the truths of God’s Word and make our words both salty and sweet.
Father, before I speak today — in person or digitally — may I sprinkle a little salt on my words, making them sweet to the hearer and pleasing to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 22:11, “He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.” (ESV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Today’s key verse in Colossians 4 mentions salty speech directly in reference to knowing “how you ought to answer” everyone.Can you think of a time when you gave an answer to someone and it did not go well? If you could go back in time, how would you answer differently based on a particular quality of salt?