6 "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person."
Colossians 4:6 (NASB)
In my early years of ministry, I took a University of Missouri wrestler along with me to talk with another student about Christ. The conversation didn't go well. The student wanted to argue, and I wasn’t going to lose the debate.
As we walked away, my wrestler friend turned to me and said, "Looks like you won the battle, but you lost the war." My response to this student's disagreement destroyed any chance of another conversation.
The apostle Paul was concerned about our response to others' criticism, disagreement or apathy. Our response needs to be well-seasoned speech.
Seasoning makes food more appetizing. It enhances the taste of food. Seasoning brings you back for more.
A response marked by grace keeps the door open for more conversations. Grace gives others freedom to react without us taking it personally. Grace defines how we treat those critical of the gospel. When we keep a good dose of seasoning in the conversation, we give them a portion of what God is like.
Several years after college I was back in my hometown for a holiday. Walking through a shopping mall one day, I heard someone shouting my name. It was an old fraternity brother I had not seen in several years. The very next thing he said to me was, "I have become Christian! Remember me? I was the guy who always mocked you Christians, but you treated me well anyway."
Much of the unbelieving world perceives God as judgmental and vindictive. People are surprised by grace. It is hard for them to forget it.
We have experienced grace in Jesus. He gave us forgiveness and a relationship that we didn't deserve. In the sharing of the gospel message, we are presenting the God of grace. In our response to their reactions, we can model grace.
Colossians 4:2-6 gives us a pattern for handling the gospel: pray, speak freely, go for clarity, live wisely, respond with grace.