Monday, August 4, 2008

A Pinch of Salt

“Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltiness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.”  (Mark 9:50)

        There are some foods that can hardly be choked down without salt. As Job says, the white of an egg, for instance (Job 6:6). I am well aware that too much salt can be harmful to your health; but if it’s the real thing—not a substitute—even a pinch can make all the difference in the world. Mark says salt should be a part of us (“in yourselves”). Obviously, he is not speaking of literal salt, but using it as a metaphor for a desirable attribute, in much the same way we speak of an admirable man or woman as being “the salt of the earth.”

        It is Paul who fleshes the concept out for us when he says in Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Some have reasoned that this means our words should carry a “bite” to them; but it seems to me that we add salt to make foods more palatable—not harder to swallow, but easier. Without salt, food is bland, sometimes even tasteless. This is true of our speech, as well. There is just something missing.

        The Bible does not actually define “salty speech” for us, but we are given some hints. The verse in Mark lets us know that when we have salt in ourselves, we are easier to get along with (“..have peace one with another...”). Colossians says that well-seasoned speech will manifest grace to others, and even goes so far as to say that the man or woman who possesses it will know how to answer every man. Whoa! Quite a claim for something as common as salt, and that usually requires so little. It’s not always the profundity, or even the proficiency of our words that make them pungent; it’s their pertinence. Those words “fitly spoken” at the right time that are like “apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Prov.25:11). Timing is everything.

        They say you can tell good cooks by how well they season their food; and you can tell an effective Christian by the way he or she seasons his or her words. And a pinch of salt will do quite nicely. 

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