So many times people struggle, not knowing how to answer those who question their faith. Often they find themselves scrambling, and feeling less than adequate. Some think they should ask their pastor, Sunday School teacher, Bible study teacher, mentor, elder, deacon, priest or youth minister. Others think all the answers are out in cyberland on the internet. Still, a few actually turn to their Bibles to find the answers to Bible things.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to know how to answer everyone?
Colossians 4:6 says, “so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” There really is a way to know how we ought to answer people, but how? The answer is found in the beginning of that verse. I only gave you the end. Below is the whole thing.
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person (ESV).”
There is much to be said about following New Testament principles in life – especially in the words we use. Christians are supposed to be encouragers of good things, but are also supposed to confront things which oppose Christ and His cause firmly. We are supposed to speak truth – not lies. We aren’t supposed to slander or gossip. Certainly, we are obligated to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, as well.
What is gracious speech? Isn’t it choosing to find the good and talking about that? Are we not supposed to find good in others, focus on that, and build others up, speaking of the good things we see in them? Are we not supposed to forgive as we would want to be forgiven? Are we not supposed to treat others as we would have them treat us? Are we not supposed to confront others the way we would prefer to be confronted – with the intention to restore them, not harm them? Isn’t this what gracious speech is all about?
So, we just wrapped up another election. Most of us were sickened by all the negative attack ads everywhere. It seems our politics in this country have broken long-term friendships, busted up families, and strained work relationships. As a nation, we aren’t doing very well, being nice to each other.
Unfortunately, it even happens in churches. There is a reason we had to be told to “let your speech always be gracious.” Christians supposedly know all about grace, so they should be poised to be gracious with others. It only follows that since we were shown much grace, we should show much to others.
How much is your conversation filled with grace? Do you speak of good things more than bad things? Do you say positive things more than negative things? Do you build up more than tear down? Do you find good in others or do you focus on flaws? Do the things you say about people compliment them or do they criticize them? Do you praise more than complain? Do your words imply you are mostly a happy and positive person most of the time or do you come across as a Negative-Nelly?
What about the salt part? Christians of all people should have the spiciest conversations because we have learned wisdom from God, and that’s good and exciting stuff! People should love our conversations because we spice it up.
We’re past the elections. Let’s be gracious with one another so we can know how to give the best answers to their questions. May Jesus be pleased with how His followers represent Him with their conversations.
Jeff Adams is pastor for Paramount Christian Church. His column appears weekly in the Nisqually Valley News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.