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Gracious Speech

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one (Colossians 4:6). Oh, how I wish I could say honestly that I have always followed Paul’s directive given above! But alas, such is not the case. I’d like to think I’ve improved over the years, but I have work yet to do. James, the Lord’s brother, was spot on when he said the tongue is an unruly, untamable evil, full of deadly poison (James 3:8).

When Paul wrote to the Colossians, he was under house arrest in Rome. He had just asked the brethren to pray that God would open a door for the word, “that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak” (4:3, 4). Whether talking to the guard to whom he was chained, or to visitors, or to Caesar, Paul knew there was a right way and a wrong way to present the truth. Likewise he urged the Colossians to act wisely toward those outside of Christ, and to speak with grace (vv. 5, 6). Was he saying to soft-pedal the gospel or compromise the truth? No indeed! But mark this down: Truth can be presented kindly. You need not be ugly to be plain. If someone is offended, be sure it is because of God’s word, not because you spoke rudely. There is nothing “conservative” about being hateful or nasty.

A church interviewed two men for a preaching job. Both men preached about Hell, using exactly the same Scriptures and making exactly the same points. The church hired the second man, and the first asked, “Why?” The brethren explained: “You both preached the truth about Hell. The second man sounded like he was sad that people were going there; you sounded like you were glad!” Let our words be seasoned with salt. Salt makes certain foods taste better. When people hear gracious speech it leaves a good taste in their mouth, as it were.

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