My Words Show People Who I Am (Colossians 4:6)
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. —Colossians 4:6
In April of this year, my family and I moved to San Jose, Costa Rica to serve as missionaries. Our primary task during this first year on the field is to learn Spanish—an adventure that has already taught me a great deal about the importance of words.
When I speak in Spanish, my words show people who I am. My word choice, the order of the words, my accent all reveal that I am not at home. In brief conversations, neighbors, people at church, even people in the grocery store or the bank, can tell that I am not from here.
In this week’s verse, the Apostle Paul reminds the believers at Colossae that even words in our native tongue reveal a great deal about who we are. As those who trust in Christ, the things we talk about and the words we choose should be different from the world around us. Our speech should clearly demonstrate that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). Our expressions and exclamations should underscore our trust in the sovereignty of God who works all things together for good (Romans 8:28) even when our kids misbehave or someone cuts us off in traffic.
People in our workplace and our neighborhood, those we meet at the gym or in the playground, our family and friends should see a different character in how we use our words. Our conversations should overflow with grace. In Paul’s metaphor, our words should be “salty” providing unique flavor and having a positive impact on the world around us.
But it’s about more than just being a nice person. Our words must not only be “gracious” in the human sense, they should point to the Grace of the One who loved us and gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20). Our words should overflow with the gospel of grace.
Because our words should and will raise questions from the people we encounter, Paul urges us to see our words as they are received by “each person.” He encourages us to carefully and prayerfully choose our words to have maximum gospel impact. As Peter puts it, always being prepared to make a defense but doing it with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
As I write this post, my Facebook feed is filled with opportunities for Christians to speak with gracious, gospel commending words. As we engage issues like same sex marriage, abortion, the 2016 presidential election, and many others, even when it’s hard—especially when it’s hard—we must ask ourselves: How are my words commending the grace of God? Could someone who doesn’t know me tell I trusted Jesus from the words I am using here? How are my words to this person advancing the cause of impacting them with the gospel?
So while I’m in language school trying to overcome the obstacle of my clunky Spanish, I will be praying for those who trust in Christ around the world. May your words overflow with grace that brings gospel transformation to the world and glory to our great God.
Are there areas where you need to repent and seek forgiveness from God and others regarding how you have used your words?
What concrete steps will you take this week to ensure your words reflect the grace of the gospel?
Who are some specific people (or groups of people) that God has brought into your circle of influence that you can prayerfully engage with your words to impact their lives with the gospel?