True and illustrious husbandman of the field of the Gospel,
whose seeds are seen to be the Gospels of Christ which,
with his godly mouth, he sows in the ears of the wise,
ploughing their hearts and minds with the Holy Spirit.
- Sechnall, Audite Omnes Amantes, Irish, 5th century
Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
- Colossians 4.6
In Scripture, salt functions in three ways.
First, it was used as a preservative. Rub some salt into your meat and you keep out corrupting influences, tending to decay, and preserve what is good in the meat for longer than it would normally remain. This may be mainly what Jesus had in mind when He said that His followers should regard themselves as the salt of the earth. We have been redeemed for good works, and the Kingdom in which we participate drives back and overcomes the corrupting influences of the domain of darkness (1 Jn. 2.8). As we think of ourselves as salt, we will live as salt, and not give ground to evil in any way.
Second, salt was used to add flavor to foods, as when Job opined that no one would think of eating an egg without using a little salt (Job 6.6). Salt is like that: It heightens good things and makes them even more palatable. But just the right amount of salt – not too much. Our lives should serve to heighten the flavor of life, as by our “salty” lives we bring others into the Presence of the Lord and His truth, and the hope we have in Him.
Finally, and probably for both these reasons, salt was associated with God’s covenant. The addition of salt to sacrifices was meant to remind God’s people of the the preserving power and enhancing grace of God’s covenant with Israel (cf. Lev. 2.13). We are the salt of the earth in that we bring the flavor of God’s covenant into all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities, living toward the promises of God and basking in His mercy and grace.
Thus, when Paul counsels us to let our speech be gracious, seasoned as it were with salt, he intends that we should be diligent to make our words count, for preserving what is good, enhancing conversation, and injecting the gracious covenantal Presence of the Lord. We are to be salt throughout our Personal Mission Fields, in all our works, but especially in our speech.
But such “salted” speech can only come from a life that is devoted to becoming the salt of the earth.
Sechnall described Patrick as having a “godly mouth.” I love that strange juxtaposing of ideas. Patrick spoke out of a life brimming with gratitude and abounding in courage, love, holiness, self-sacrifice, and untiring labor. When he spoke, people listened, and when he spoke the Gospel, they came to Christ by the thousands.
The salt of grace that savored his life, also savored his speech. The Holy Spirit accompanied Patrick’s “holy sowing” of the fields of men’s hearts, and the result was a surprising awakening to Christian faith among the pagan peoples of Ireland.
What might be the result if Christians today had godly mouths, were savory in our lives and speech, and knew just how to season our conversations with the truth of God?
Let us seek the Lord to make us truly salty people, working for what is good, flavoring the lives of everyone around us, and living toward the promises of God in every area of our lives. Then we’ll provoke others with the hope they see abounding in us, and we’ll be ready to answer any inquiry or speak to every situation or need.
We can only imagine what God might do as His followers practice the grace of salty living and speech for the sake of the Gospel.
1. Would you describe your manner of speaking as “salty”? Explain.
2. What can you do to improve the quality of your conversations with the people in your Personal Mission Field?
Psalm 51.10-13 (Passion Chorale: O Sacred Head Now Wounded)
Create in me a clean heart, renew me from within!
Take not Your Spirit from me because of all my sin.
Salvation’s joy restore, Lord, and keep me in Your hand;
thus shall I tell Your strong Word to sinners in the land.
Shape my heart and engage my tongue, O Lord, that I might be salty to those around me and…
Feeding on the Word
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T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Carey, p. 158.