Speaking Like a Believer – October 2, 2020

One commentator described this week’s presidential debate as a hot mess, inside of a dumpster fire, inside of a train wreck. The debate sounded like two toddlers (or maybe jr. highers) arguing. Unfortunately, the debate was a microcosm of our culture. We don’t listen, and we speak poorly. This ought not be the case for believers. A major indicator that should set the believer apart from the unbeliever is the use of speech. However, this has been a struggle for believers from day one. For this reason, Paul challenged the church in Colossae about their witness to outsiders due to their 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

Walking with wisdom toward outsiders directly refers to our witness to unbelievers. We are to live in such a way that unbelievers recognize that we are different. Paul describes this as making the most of every opportunity. The identifying mark that makes us different is the way we interact with them in our speech. We live in a culture in which the one who yells the loudest gets to define truth for the culture. Sadly, many Christians seem to believe that if they will yell the loudest, they will get to define truth. But they will always be shouted down. The gospel does not spread through harsh and angry speech.

Rather, Christian speech is to be marked by grace. At its basic level, gracious refers to speech that is kind and charming. However, as Paul uses this word, it means much more. As Christians, God has bestowed unfathomable grace upon us through Christ. We are to reflect that gift of grace through the way that we interact with others. As God bestows grace to us, so we are to bestow grace to others.

Consider God’s grace. He bestows it upon his enemies (Romans 5:8). He lavishes it on us (Ephesians 1:7-8). And he never removes it (Ephesians 1:14). This means then that we ought to fill our speech with this kindness, grace, and care with everyone. The most depraved sinner, the political opponent, the immigrant, the foolish, the annoying, and the mean-spirited ought to all be beneficiaries of our gracious speech. Is your speech marked by love or anger? Does your speech build up or tear down? Is your speech marked by gratefulness or complaining?

Further, our speech is to be seasoned with salt. The idea correlates to the usefulness of salt. However, it is most likely related to its use with food. In the first century, salt served as both a preservative and an additive. First, it was placed on meat to preserve it and make it last with the lack of refrigeration. A primary reason for culture’s degradation is the failure of Christians to have a preservative affect through their speech. Sadly, many Christians are known as mean spirited and rude. As with today, salt also served as an additive. Some put salt on everything because it enhances the flavor of whatever is being eaten. So also our speech should be an enhancer. It should add flavor to life. Through your speech, do you build up or tear down? Do people enjoy when you talk or when you stop talking?

Don’t be like the contestants of the last presidential debate. Instead be like Christ. Before you speak, consider what you are about to say. Before you post on social media, consider what you type. Live wisely, speak with grace and benefit. Through this, opportunities for Gospel witness will flourish.