Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer each person. – Colossians 4:6
Like many stay-at-home moms, I’m also a full-time chef for my family of 3. My two signature dishes, chicken with spaghetti and chicken with other vegetables, have basically gone viral in the culinary world. Have you seen the chicken alla Norma on Pinterest? Inspired by me. But, in reality, I’m more of a cook who specializes in turkey sandwiches. My secret to making any dish I prepare instantly more edible is salt. When something comes out bland, I just sprinkle a bit of salt. When things come out of the oven a bit overcooked, just toss some salt on there and all is made well. Please don’t mention this tip to the American Heart Association. Salt is the cure to my kitchen woes and it’s also the cure to my accountability with friends, metaphorically speaking of course.
In the same way salt accentuates the flavors of a dish, the way we use our words in relationships has the power to bring out the best or the worst in people. A term used frequently in the Bible is edification- it literally means to build up or improve.
Conversations with friends present the opportunity to edify- to build- a relationship on the foundation of Christ’s love for us and we do this through the “saltiness” of our speech.
So what’s the deal with salt? In the Old Testament salt was frequently used to preserve meat and fish from rotting. Priests used salt because it preserved the offering sacrifice from corruption (see Leviticus 2:13). So when we are asked to season our speech with salt, God is asking us to stop the moral decay we see happening around us and, instead, build each other up in Truth. A great friend is one that challenges us to know God more and puts God’s Word before the harmony of the friendship. We can use our saltiness to remind each other of the forever promises of God that will never spoil or expire.
So you see, salt is both a preservation of our holiness and a promise of God’s commitment to us.
We see “salt” in practice today through conversations with friends. In Colossians, we are told to be gracious in our speech, seasoning it with salt. Most of us are comfortable with the gracious part. We know how to tell a friend she is doing a great job. We know how to console a friend when she has experienced the consequences of a bad decision. We also know how to turn the other way when a friend is not obeying and following God.
Perhaps we think it’s more gracious to keep our mouths shut and passively love them by showing what a good Christian we are, all the while hoping and praying for them to see the error of their ways. Praying for our friends is good, in fact it’s biblical, and sometimes it’s the only approach we can take. However God calls us, first, to confront each other in love– to edify– when one of us isn’t living according to His will. Not because we take pleasure in calling out the other person’s sin, but because we love them and want the absolute best for their life.
The Lord knows that our “gracious” speech is decent, perhaps edible, but a little bland and maybe burnt around the edges. It’s easy for a friend to swallow accountability that is full of grace and no truth because there’s nothing to be accountable for. Is your friend in a relationship where she feels defeated, but committed to stay because he loves her? There’s no truth in telling her that if he loves her, it’s all okay. Love says you should never feel less than worthy and any relationship that imposes this feeling isn’t what God wants for you. But it’s hard to say what we actually know to be true because it’s awkward and hard—and honestly, a little painful.
That’s why our conversations need to be seasoned with salt.
We need the salt to shift our speech from keeping false peace to edifying our friends in God’s truth.
We may say we want friends that meet us where we are, but don’t we really want friends that take us to a more mature place in our faith? That push us to think more carefully and to live rightly? That’s why grace and salt go hand-in-hand because when we understand the undeserved grace we have received, then we feel the need to repent of the places that are rotten and aim to preserve what is good—to stay salty.
Do you serve your friends grace seasoned with salt? Are you ready to hold each other accountable to living a life marked by grace and truth?
My hope is that we treat our friendships as more than just feel-good chats. And instead, we use our edifying conversations to bring our friends closer to God and His truths.
Stay salty, my friends.
What scares you about accountability?
How does God use accountability for His good purposes?
How can your community hold one another accountable in a gracious and salty way?
Have an honest conversation with a friend and ask the hard questions. Maybe they need to be held accountable for a recent decision. Or, maybe you need some accountability. Reach out to that friend who is bold to bring truth into your relationships and ask her to be your accountability partner.