“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
I came across this little nugget during my Bible reading and I have been mulling over it’s significance ever since. This post will apply to all human interactions, but specifically to our conversations with our children who are always watching (and often copying) every move we make and word we utter.
At first glance, it would seem that the grace mentioned in this passage is something that we are being instructed to give away to those with whom we are in conversation. However, if I look closer, I see that assumption is wrong. In reality, “grace” can only refer to God’s unmerited gift to us bought at the heavy price of His Son’s blood. It certainly can’t come from me (remember Ephesians 2:8-9? “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”) Grace and faith are both gifts from God. I have no grace of my own to give.
Therefore, it seems we can conclude that Paul is instructing us to have conversations that are filled with God’s grace. Conversations that overflow with a deep appreciation for the gift of grace we have already received. If I could keep the reality of what Christ has done for me as the backdrop of all my conversations, I think it would be very difficult to get annoyed, frustrated or downright angry at my kids. It would keep things in perspective.
Let’s now look at the other necessary ingredient to our conversations: salt. Our conversations are to be “seasoned with salt.” What is the purpose of salt? Well, for one, it enhances flavors. It can also be used as a cleaning agent. It seems that it can even be used to relieve pain. If you google “uses for salt” you will see what I mean. It is a very powerful little agent that, even when used in small quantities, can be very effective.
So what does a grace-filled, salt-seasoned conversation look like? Here are some of my ideas for application:
- I need to take a breath and smile (even if I don’t feel like it) before engaging in any conversations with my kids. This simple act of smiling can be the reminder that I have a lot to smile about.
- Use salt with restraint. I like “well-seasoned” food as much as the next girl, but it has to be used with restraint or the dish will be unpalatable (I’ve seen contestants kicked off “Top Chef” for this very issue). When I am instructing or redirecting my children, I need to turn off lecture-mode (no matter how sensible the lecture may be) and use restraint.
- Do my words cleanse or am I rubbing salt in a wound? Sometimes we feel that unless our kids cry or get upset in some fashion, we are not getting through to them. If we use their reactions as the litmus test for how effective our discipline is, we run the risk of having an “over-seasoned” conversation.
- While God is “always for me” (who can be against me?), I can’t use Him or His word to support my position in an attempt to further my cause. Remember, the grace in my conversation refers to me, not what I can give to the other person. Using God’s word to motivate or manipulate behavior in my children is a misuse of the “belt of truth.”
- I CAN use God’s word as salt in my conversations with my kids. If I am exhorting and encouraging their hearts (rather than trying to make a quick change in behavior), His word is the perfect seasoning agent.