Summer 2019

How to Have a Salty Conversation

A conversation can take many forms. It can be had using voices between two or more people who are present together physically. It can be carried on using phone speakers, sometimes allowing participants to see as well as hear each other.

A conversation can be had by writing words with a pen or pencil on a sticky note or a card or a piece of stationery, to be left on a desk or sent in the mail. Many conversations are transmitted via short messages typed with the thumbs, full of abbreviations and punctuation errors.

Regardless of what mode of communication you use the most, I’m willing to bet you find yourself in hundreds of conversations every day. Whether you’re talking to friends, coworkers, family, your boss, or even people you dislike, each of your conversations has meaning and impact.

Each of your conversations has meaning and impact.

In a way, you and I are having a conversation right now. So let me ask you a question: What was the impact of your most recent conversation? What did your words convey, and what was the attitude behind them? What were your motives? What impression did you leave on the other person?

In Colossians 4:5-6, the apostle Paul writes, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (NASB).

This is one of the most popular verses in Scripture that deals with how we should speak to others, yet it is difficult to understand. Salt on my words? Matthew Henry sheds some light on the meaning of this passage:

“Even what is only carelessness may cause a lasting prejudice against the truth. … Though it be not always of grace, it must always be with grace. Though our discourse be of that which is common, yet it must be in a Christian manner.”

“Though it be not always of grace, it must always be with grace.”

–Matthew Henry

Henry goes on to say that grace is the salt with which our conversations should be seasoned.

Think about it: What does salt accomplish for us? It makes our food taste better. It adds flavor. When we eat something salty, like potato chips, we want more. Grace has the same effect on our conversations: it makes them taste better, makes even words that are hard to swallow go down easier.

Especially when we interact with unbelievers, gracious words are what draw people to us and make them hungry for more of the truth.

Gracious words draw people to us and make them hungry for more of the truth.

So, what does it look like practically to let our conversations be seasoned with the salt of grace? Sometimes it means taking a moment and a breath to think before saying anything. For me, it frequently looks like not passing judgment on someone before learning their story. It often requires putting others’ needs and interests before our own, showing them their value in God’s eyes and in ours.

Here’s a challenge for you: Tomorrow, pay careful attention to the conversations you have, whether electronic or in person. Take note of when you’re talking to believers and when you’re talking to unbelievers; the condition of your attitude toward each one; and whether your words are seasoned with grace. Then evaluate how you can better speak truth and grace to those around you.

Are your words seasoned with grace?

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14 NASB