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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” – Colossians 4:6 (NIV)
How we speak is extremely important. Not only is that true in the way we address each other as believers, but also in the way we address those who might challenge or question our faith. In this verse, I believe Paul is stressing the importance of the latter.
When Paul says to speak graciously, what he means is something like: “Let your speech be always with the graciousness appropriate to those who live in a state of grace.” Gracious speech comes from a loving spirit, which comes from a genuine relationship with a loving God.
Next, Paul says our speech should be “seasoned with salt.” Salt was used to preserve, sterilize, and season food. So, we could certainly say that our speech should have a preserving, sterilizing, and seasoning effect on society.
However, salt was also used in connection with sacrifices. When mixed with the sacrifice, it symbolized the purity of the sacrifice and the heart of the believer. To “season” our speech with salt implies that our speech is a sacrifice to God; an act of worship if you will.
Finally, we should know how to answer everyone. While certainly good quality answers are important in any conversation, I really believe Paul is emphasizing our answers to those who might challenge our faith. The focus is on method, not content. Paul calls for Christian graciousness and sensitivity to the person and situation.
In the words of Richard Melick, Jr., “Sound answers offered with a positive spirit overcome many obstacles to the gospel.”