By Jim Faughn
Have you ever heard anybody’s speech/language described as “salty?” You don’t hear that expression as much as has been the case in the past. What it usually is referring to is what could also be described as “very colorful language.” In other words, we are talking about something that is, at best, questionable and, at worst, vulgar.
In those days when this expression was more common, “salty language” was offensive to most people. To be sure, there were those who thought it was cute, funny, etc., but most people were turned off by both the language and the person using it.
All of this came to mind when I recently thought of Paul’s admonition to Christians in Colossians 4:6 --- Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
I believe it is fairly obvious that Paul was not advocating rude, crude, vulgar, offensive, and/or suggestive language. What, then, could he have meant?
The answer may be found in our Lord’s dealing with a person we sometimes refer to as the “woman at the well” (cf. John 4:4ff). As you read this account of His earthly ministry, you will notice that He was critical of both her lifestyle and her religion. He made it very clear that He approved of neither.
However, He was able to discuss these matters with her in a way that did not offend her. Instead, He was able to communicate in a way that turned her into one of His “promoters.” It could be said that His discussion of “living water” made her thirsty for something she did not have.
Speech that is gracious, seasoned with salt has a way of doing that. Salty language does not!
As I interact with people, I need to ask myself whether my speech and my lifestyle create in others a desire to know more about Jesus or if they alienate people. Do I give people hope or do I make them feel hopeless? Do I offer help or do I write people off?
How about you? Is your speech salty or is it seasoned with salt?
The eternal destiny of others --- and yourself --- may depend on your answer.
- Jim Faughn serves as an elder and preacher for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.