I awoke this morning thinking about salt. I know, I am strange. Nothing new here. But seriously, I was thinking about its qualities and how God uses it to make a point. I was drawn to Colossians 4, and although I have read it so many times, I was reminded anew of the importance of salt.
Salt, also known as table salt, or rock salt, is a mineral that is composed primarily of sodium chloride(NaCl), a chemical compound belonging to the larger class of ionic salts. It is essential for animal life in small quantities, but is harmful to animals and plants in excess. Salt is one of the oldest, most ubiquitous food seasonings and salting is an important method of food preservation. The taste of salt (saltiness) is one of the basic human tastes.
Chloride and sodium ions, the two major components of salt, are needed by all known living creatures in small quantities. Salt is involved in regulating the water content (fluid balance) of the body. The sodium ion itself is used for electrical signaling in the nervous system. Because of its importance to survival, salt has often been considered a valuable commodity during human history. However, as salt consumption has increased during modern times, scientists have become aware of the health risks associated with too much salt intake, including high blood pressure. Therefore health authorities have recommended limitations of dietary sodium. The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends that individuals consume no more than 1500–2300 mg of sodium (3750–5750 mg of salt) per day depending on age.
I happen to like salty foods more than sweets. Not that I don’t like sweets…I just prefer the crunchy, salty and spicy foods more. I find them to be satisfying…sometimes that satisfying requires quantities that are not healthy, I think.
We all need salt, though. It allows our bodies to function. Too little can cause deadly problems…too much, well different symptoms maybe, but dangerous just as well. So I find it very interesting how the God uses salt as a teaching tool for how we are to speak and live.
Colossians 4:6 Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person. (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Hmmm, never really equated gracious with seasoned, but I have to admit, meat tastes a whole lot better with a bit of salt…so do potatoes…ever tasted white rice without salt…yes, not a fan. Can you imagine Chinese food without salt? Or Mexican food? The word “bland” comes to mind.
So, apparently our speech is not going for the bland when God says gracious. But if you look carefully at the benefits to our health, the importance of salt is quite amazing. We NEED it. When our bodies are lacking this key compound, it causes major problems. We get out of whack. (I know, some of you are questioning my content of salt at this very moment.) My grandmother once ended up in a situation called “heart block” because her salt levels were too low and her body just could not function. What is one of the most common IV treatments when someone is in the hospital? A saline, or salt, drip. Do you think God already knew that?
So what are we supposed to do with this verse, when we are told to season our words with salt and know how to answer each person graciously? Well, if you look at the context of this verse, there are a lot of descriptions of relationships that we may have–(I really like the Phillips translation…it is so REAL, so easy to understand) check out the context–
Colossians 4:1-6 (my comments are in blue)
1 Remember, then, you employers, that your responsibility is to be fair and just towards those whom you employ, never forgetting that you yourselves have a heavenly employer.
(So if you are the boss, don’t forget that you need to be fair because YOUR boss is God!)
Some simple, practical advice
2-4 Always maintain the habit of prayer: be both alert and thankful as you pray. Include us in your prayers, please, that God may open for us a door for the entrance of the Gospel. Pray that we may talk freely of the mystery of Christ (for which I am at present in chains), and that I may make that mystery plain to men, which I know is my duty.
(Let prayer characterize your life! Pay attention while you pray and be thankful! Pray for those who have ministered to you and pray that God will allow the Gospel to be preached without any obstacles. Pray that no one, not even the government, tries to stop us from speaking about Jesus Christ, so that everyone can hear about Him and be saved. It’s my job.)
5-6 Be wise in your behaviour towards non-Christians, and make the best possible use of your time. Speak pleasantly to them, but never sentimentally, and learn to give a proper answer to every questioner.
(Be very careful how you behave with those who do not know the Lord Jesus as their Savior, and make sure you are very wise about how you spend your time. Speak kindly to them always, but not merely emotionally, and be ready and prepare well to give a correct answer to anyone who asks you questions about Jesus Christ.)
I don’t know about you, but these verses are very convicting. Especially the ones about how we are to speak and act when around those who do not yet know the Lord Jesus. How are you with time management? I struggle a lot with that one…there are so many things that are grabbing for my attention and time, and so many of them seem SO WORTHWHILE, and actually many of them ARE worthwhile, but when you put things in God’s balance of time well-spent, I am afraid the balance is definitely out. Way out.
So as I consider these verses, I see areas that definitely need improvement, and thankfully, the Lord is willing and able to continue working in my life and hopefully through my life. My prayer is that my words will be gracious and kind, and that my life will be such that those who observe it will be drawn to question WHY. The hope that is in me…may it pour out of me and generate questions as to its Source and Substance.