Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer every man.
Our speech is to be "seasoned with salt." The context shows that this advice is given especially in regard to the conversation of Christian people with men of the world. It is part of the "wisdom towards them that are without." Instead of offensive fault finding, haughty self assertion, or morose indifference, our speech is to be courteous - "with grace;" and pleasant - "seasoned" Salt stands for wit in Greek references to it as seasoning speech. But with St. Paul it seems rather to mean a pleasant, kindly, interesting characteristic of speech.
I. SPEECH SHOULD BE COURTEOUS. "Be courteous" is advice that comes to us from the sturdy fisherman (1 Peter 3:8). If we cannot agree with another there is no reason why we should treat him unkindly. If we must even oppose him, still we can do it with consideration and gentleness of manner. In general intercourse it is well that an affability of behaviour should characterize the Christian. How courteous Christ was with all classes! St. Paul is a model of the true Christian gentleman. The essence of courtesy is sympathy for others in small things. It is hollow if we manifest hostility or selfishness in large things. The courtesy of a Chesterfield has a flavour of hypocrisy about it because it is based on selfishness. Still, if we are sympathetic in serious matters we may be much misunderstood, and we may really give much pain by a needless brusqueness of manner.
II. SPEECH SHOULD BE INTERESTING. Salt is seasoning. It gives pungency. Something similar should be found in our conversation. Dulness is an offence. It is an infliction of intolerable weariness on the listener. On the part of the speaker it shows either want of interest in his subject (in which case he should let it alone), or want of interest in his hearer (which is a direct result of lack of sympathy). Moreover, the Christian is called to be frequently bearing testimony for his Master. He weakens that testimony by giving it in an uninteresting manner, lie should study his words. But, better than that, he should have his theme so much at heart as to speak with the eloquence of enthusiasm.
III. SPEECH SHOULD BE PURE. Salt is antiseptic. The Christian should not only avoid unwholesome topics and styles of speech; he should bring into conversation a positive, purifying influence. This does not mean that he should be always quoting texts and set religious phrases, or always dragging in religious subjects out of place and season. He degrades them, provokes his hearers, and stultifies himself by so doing. But he should seek to elevate the tone of conversation, to guide it from unworthy subjects and to infuse into it a pure tone. There are Christ-like men whose very presence in a room seems to rebuke evil talk and to breathe a higher atmosphere into the conversation. How purifying was the conversation of Christ! - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.