How to Answer Every One
Read Colossians 4:6 (ESV)
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
According to Paul, how should we speak as new creatures in Christ?
In our divided world right now, it seems as if everyone has the “right” answer and we are all screaming it at each other. When we hear something we disagree with, we shut down and stop listening. We form our rebuttals before we’ve even listened to all of the reasoning of our “opponents.” And the way our culture talks to and about those they disagree with is often hostile.
But in today’s verse, Paul says that this shouldn’t be so with Christians. In Colossians 3, Paul said that since we died with Christ and have been made alive with Him we are new creations. He then described how we should live as new creations and today’s verse is a part of that discussion. As new creations in Christ, we shouldn’t talk like our old self. Instead, he says our speech should always be gracious.
Gracious speech is kind and respectful even as we stand up for the truth or address sin. Gracious speech gives the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming the worst. Paul added that our speech should be “seasoned with salt.”
Just the other night, I popped some popcorn and what did I do? I added just the right amount of salt to make it tastier. When we season our words with salt, we speak in good taste and with tact. That way, even when we have to speak difficult truths or disagree with someone, our words will go down easier because they have been seasoned just right.
The interesting thing about salt thought is that it doesn’t just make things taste better but it actually acts as a preservative. In fact, on the Oregon Trail, one of the food staples was salt pork. It was a heavily salted, fatty hunk of pork that was preserved in a barrel of brine, which is just highly salted water. But this preserved pork would not spoil as fast as fresh meat so it was an ideal meat for the long trip.
Likewise, our speech should act as a preservative in our relationships with others. Foul, hurtful, and harsh speech brings decay. It can destroy relationships, shut down conversations that could have been fruitful, and deeply hurts others. Hateful and careless speech causes division.
Last, Paul emphasized that we need to know how to answer others. Whether they ask a genuine question or an impertinent one, we should be prepared to answer. In 1 Peter 3:15-16 Peter put it this way: “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”
Friends, we need to be prepared to answer tough questions about our faith whether they are coming from our kids, our co-workers, our friends, or random people on the internet. We should be spending time in the Word so that we can be ready as these conversations spring up. Today, I encourage you to spend some time in the Word so that you will be prepared to answer each person. Our podcast, Hard Questions, Real Answers, is also a great resource to check out as you think through the tough questions about our faith that you might be asked.
But remember, our attitude, our tone of voice, and our word choice as we answer these questions is the thing that will either make or break our response. We can have all of the right answers but if we don’t speak with gracious words, seasoned with salt, no one will listen. So don’t forget to generously sprinkle on the grace in your conversations today.
Jesus, You were the perfect example of speaking graciously but with convicting and uncompromising truth. Help me to learn from Your example. Help me to prepare for any conversation that might come my way. Use my words to glorify You and point others to You. Amen.