The Herald Weekly Vol XVII : 34

Our Speech, always with grace, and seasoned with salt

James 3:6 says that the tongue, if used wrongly, is a fire, a world of iniquity’ (Jam 3:6). “The tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full deadly poison” (3:8). With the same tongue we bless God our Father (3:9), and with it we curse men who are made in the image of God. James says that it is not right for the same mouth to give forth blessing as well as cursing. Similarly, we do not expect a fountain to send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter water (Jam 3:11).

How, then, should we use our tongue to speak with fellow-believers and unbelievers?

Col 4:6 says “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”

The Apostle Paul, when he wrote to the Colossian Christians, encouraged them to “put off” the “old man” (Col 3:8) and to “put on the new man” (3:10); to put off uncleanness, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of the mouth” (3:8). He urged them to “let the word of God dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (3:16). Thus, to be able to speak graciously, one must have grace in the hearts. To be able to speak grace, Christians need to let God’s word guide us into say wise things before we can teach and admonish one another in “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col 3:16).

It is obvious then that whatever a man (or a woman) says, that is what he (or she) thinks in the heart. Thus, “a good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil; for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” (Lk 6:45). Thus, a person who says kind things, has a kind heart; a person who says negative things, has a negative heart; and a person who says mean things, has a mean heart. Conclusively, what a man thinks in his heart, he reveals in what he says to others.

Tests for Gracious Speech

1. Is the speech true?

Eph 4:15 tells us that we should speak “the truth in love”. Thus, before we repeat what others say, we need to be careful to ensure that the content is true. The use of salt implies the intention to preserve or to purify. Thus to have speech that is seasoned with salt is to preserve the truth, to be truthful in communicating any content in our speech.

2. Is the speech complete?

Often when people get together, there is a tendency to share news; sometimes we may not even have the complete news about what has happened to someone else; sometimes people share part of a story, and leave out or do not have the rest of the story which may give a better picture of a person or incident.

3. Is it Necessary?

When we talk to others, what we say may be true and complete, but is it necessary for others to know everything you know?

1 Peter 4:8 tells us that “above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” We may have knowledge of someone’s past, perhaps even the complete picture of his/her misdeeds. But is it necessary to tell others about this person’s past? Having the privilege of knowledge does not give us the authority to ensure that everyone knows about someone’s secret past. Sometimes, silence is indeed golden.

4. Is it Kind?

Paul encourages believers to “be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another” (Rom 12:10). We are to “let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Eph 4:31-32)

To speak with grace we need to:

1. Determine to control your tongue

2. Say only god things about others

3. Remember we are accountable for what we say
“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgement.” (Matt 12:36)

4. Ask the Lord to help guard our mouths
“Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” (Ps 141:3)

Let us to display our love for others in the way we talk to them, or talk about them. Let us show more grace in our speech. Let us ask ourselves the next time we speak: Do my words build others up or tear them down. Do we show Christ’s love in our speech or are we driving unbelievers from the gospel of Christ.

May God help us to season our speech with salt – to preserve the truth and to build others up.

Pastor Bob Phee
(1st printing 16 Oct 2016) 

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