Paul closes out the teaching portion of his letter to the Colossian church with the following statement: “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6). Notice several implications in Paul’s admonition.
First, our speech should always be “with grace.” Strong’s says charis comes from the idea of “the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.” Hence, our speech should always reflect the benefit and pleasure that God intends to convey in any message He would transmit. When we start interjecting our own ingenuity, we compromise our speech in the Lord’s service. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11a).
Second, our speech should be “seasoned with salt.” Salt was commonly used as seasoning in sacrifices (Leviticus 2:13) and was especially desirable in flavoring meat (Job 6:6; cf. Matthew 5:13). Everyone appreciates kind words. “Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances” (Proverbs 25:11, NASB). “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). Our purpose in answering questions concerning our sanctification is not to assert superiority, but to invite the sinner to salvation. The “I’m right and you’re wrong” attitude has no place in the Christian’s heart and shouldn’t spill out in speech; “for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7a).
Third, the reason for our “speech concern” is singular: knowing “how you ought to answer each one.” There are a couple of implications here. One is the fact that we should know how to answer questions asked by those who “may see your good works” (Matthew 5:16) and want to know about your convictions (1 Peter 3:15). The other is the fact that our good works are seen so visibly as unique and different (2 Corinthians 6:17). Christians are “sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2). When we are so like the lost around us that there is no distinction, we have failed in our Christianity.
So, the next time someone asks you about your religion, or what church you go to, take it as a complement, an opportunity, and a privilege, “knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:24). Give a gracious response.