“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” – Colossians 4:6
We are faced with a post-Christian culture, leaving the Bible in the past and marching to promote a relative truth, unique to each person. The only thing one can not do anymore is claim an absolute truth, especially if we are sharing that absolute to someone who disagrees. But we are charged to share the Gospel; how can we accomplish our calling in the most loving way possible to a generation that needs Jesus? Paul Washer offers the following metaphor, paraphrased for our purposes:
Imagine with me that you are a doctor, and you have just received tests back with the news that your patient in the other room has cancer. It is now your duty to step back into your office and give them this diagnosis. It will ruin their day. It may make them cry. They may get angry with you and they may yell at you. They may ask for a second opinion, or they may demand another doctor.
Quite simply, the only way they have a fighting chance of beating the cancer in their body is by first knowing about it, and you are to tell them without fear of their response – it is your job, and the warning is loving. Should you neglect your duties your patient may very quickly die, and you will lose your medical license.
How many Christians then should lose their “license” by neglecting to warn those who they are in constant communion with of their cancerous dismissal of the Words God has placed before us in Scripture? We uselessly coddle their emotions, thinking we offer love when in reality we “love” them straight into the arms of hell. We act as if it is our mission to make sure they are comfortable as we watch them parade to the depths of darkness. No, surely urgent love for them will not let us stand idly by. No one would call it love to place the Band-Aid of comfort over our patient’s cancer.
Of course, there is a loving and an unloving way to approach such a scenario. “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” – Colossians 4:5-6
Our words should be full of grace, seasoned with salt. That is, speaking what is loving, gracious and true, while also communicating the message of “salt” that keeps the rotting meat fresh. You who are in Christ are the salt of the Earth, “… but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” – Matthew 5:13
We are loving three peoples when we share difficult truths; first, we are loving God by sharing the truth He has given us with others around us. We are stewarding Gospel truths well when we not only live them for ourselves, but share them eagerly. Second, we are loving others in sharing truth with them. How much would we have to loathe a person to stare into their eyes with ultimate truth in our hearts, and stay silent? Thirdly, we are loving ourselves by relieving ourselves of guilt and punishment. Look with me at Ezekiel 3:18-19, “If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.”
Do your mission as the image of Christ, and do it as Christ would do it – with love. This does not mean we soften the Gospel. We do not communicate a soft message, nor do we communicate a difficult message to swallow with hatred, but rather we communicate the same difficult message with love in our hearts.
“’You’re wrong and you’re loved’ – that’s the unique voice of the Christian.” – Jonathan Parnell