The Christian's Speech

“Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” (Colossians 4:6)

A Christian’s words are of transcendent importance, for Jesus has said: “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36). The word “answer” in the text above means more than simply an answer to a question. The Greek word is used 250 times in the New Testament, and in every other instance it is used in a simple narrative sense (such as, “he answered saying”). Thus it refers to ordinary conversation, indicating that every verbal response of a Christian should be gracious and tasteful—never crude, or hurtful, or bland.

The Scriptures include many other specifications for a Christian’s speech. In the first place, there should not be too much of it! “Study to be quiet, and to do your own business” (1 Thessalonians 4:11). Our words should be carefully chosen, able to be substantiated—“Sound speech, that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:8). People should be able to rely on the truth of what we say. “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour” (Ephesians 4:25). Furthermore, “let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29). “But who ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth” (Colossians 3:8). Our words should always be edifying and helpful, wholesome and thoughtful.

But if this seems humanly impossible, remember God is able to tame our tongues, even though we cannot! The key is prayer—earnest and consistent prayer—not just that our speech become innocuous, but that it may edify, testify, and minister grace. HMM

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