Colossians 4:6
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
A Turn in the TalkC. H. Spurgeon.Colossians 4:6
A Word Spoken in SeasonBritish Workman.Colossians 4:6
Christ's Truth in Relation to Our Daily ConversationR. Abercrombie, M. A.Colossians 4:6
ConversationA. P. Peabody, D. D.Colossians 4:6
Gracious SpeechN. Byfield.Colossians 4:6
Religion in ConversationJ. F. B. Tinling.Colossians 4:6
SaltA. Monod, D. D.Colossians 4:6
SaltW.F. Adneney Colossians 4:6
Seasoning a LetterColossians 4:6
Speech Seasoned with SaltA. Maclaren, D. D.Colossians 4:6
The Importance of Seasonable SpeechT. Croskery Colossians 4:6
The Right Use of SpeechT. Watson, B. A.Colossians 4:6
Wise Words Spoken in ReasonC. Malan.Colossians 4:6
Prayer and PrudenceR. Findlayson Colossians 4:2-6
The Life of Prayer and SympathyR.M.e Colossians 4:2-6
Christian Deportment Towards UnbelieversA. Monod, D. D.Colossians 4:5-6
Christian Worldly WisdomJ. Daille.Colossians 4:5-6
Godly Walk in Evil CompanyColossians 4:5-6
Improve the MomentsBowes.Colossians 4:5-6
Redeeming the TimeJ. G. Angley, M. A.Colossians 4:5-6
Redeeming the TimeRobert Hall.Colossians 4:5-6
The Christian and the WorldU.R. Thomas Colossians 4:5, 6
The Christians Conduct and Conversation in the WorldE.S. Prout Colossians 4:5, 6
The Duties of Those Within to These WithoutA. Maclaren, D. D.Colossians 4:5-6
The Merchandise of TimeP. Grant.Colossians 4:5-6
The Redemption of TimeT. Watson, B. A.Colossians 4:5-6
The Redemption of TimeRobert Newton, D. D.Colossians 4:5-6
The Right Use of TimeL. O. Thompson.Colossians 4:5-6
The Value of a Minister's TimeW. Baxendale.Colossians 4:5-6
The Value of TimeColossians 4:5-6
The Wisdom of Kindness as a Means of ConversionA. Monod, D. D.Colossians 4:5-6
The Wise and Winsome WalkT. L. Cuyler, D. D.Colossians 4:5-6
The Wise Conduct of LifeG. Barlow.Colossians 4:5-6
Wesley's Economy of TimeW. Baxendale.Colossians 4:5-6
Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how to answer each one. The conversation of believers is to have reference to "those without" as well as their personal behaviour.


1. It is to be "always with grace.

(1) It is to spring out of some grace of God in the heart, such as knowledge, joy, love, fear; to be seasoned with the recollection of God's grace to us in Christ (Psalm 40:11); and to minister grace to the hearers (Ephesians 4:29).

2. It is to consist of gracious words.

(1) Not words of railing, or blasphemy, or corruption;

(2) but words that are

(a) seasonable (Proverbs 15:23),

(b) wholesome (Ephesians 4:29),

(c) kindly (Proverbs 31:26),

(d) hopeful

3. The conversation of believers is to be uniformly with grace. The precept is always in force. Much depends upon the continuity of a gracious habit of talk. It is to be exercised in all places, at all times, yet with due regard to what is seasonable or timely.

4. It is to be seasoned with salt. It is not to be insipid and without point, so as to be incapable of edifying man's spirit. It must have penetrative force, either for the purpose of directing the inquirer or answering the scoffer. The tongue of the wise is as choice silver;" "The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips" (Proverbs 10:20; Proverbs 16:23). Our Lord said," Every one must be salted with fire, every sacrifice must be salted with salt" (Mark 9:49). The person is salted first; the salt is found in his words and deeds afterwards.

II. THE END OF SEASONABLE SPEECH. "That ye may know how to answer each one." This implies:

1. That the truth will be spoken against.

(1) It is the heritage of "the sect everywhere spoken against" (Acts 28:22).

(2) It is hard for carnally minded men to understand it, and therefore they gainsay it.

(3) There are men who "hold down the truth in unrighteousness" (Romans 1:18).

2. That believers are to learn how to give a right answer to objectors. We are to "give a reason of the hope that is in us with meekness and fear" (1 Peter 3:15). It must be done

(1) prayerfully; for "the answer of the tongue," as well as "the preparation of the heart," "is from the Lord" (Proverbs 16:1).

(2) With faith in God's promise and hope (Psalm 119:42; Matthew 10:19).

(3) With a good conscience (1 Peter 3:16). Thus objectors will be put to shame who "falsely accuse our good conversation in Christ."

(4) With a due consideration for the circumstances of each objector, whether he be sincere or insincere, ignorant or malicious. We are "to answer each one" according to the necessities of each case (Proverbs 25:11; Proverbs 26:4, 6). - T.C.

Let your speech he alway with grace, seasoned with salt.
I. THE PRECEPT deals with the properties of speech.

1. Graciousness.(1) In respect to the cause good words are gracious.(a) Because they flow from the free grace of God without our merit, for we do not deserve to be trusted with a single good word. Reason yields us conceits, and nature an instrument to speak by, but it is the God of nature by His free grace that gives us good words.(b) Our words ought to proceed from some grace of God in the heart, as from knowledge, faith, joy, love, sorrow, fear, etc., and in this sense, when on the tongue, they carry the name of the fountain whence they flow.(2) In respect of the subject: the matter we talk of must be good, words of instruction, comfort, faith, hope, etc., and all seasoned by the daily memory and mention of God's grace to us in Christ (Psalm 40:11.)(3) In respect of the effect: such as tend to build up and minister grace to the: hearers (Ephesians 4:29).

(a)Fair words.

(b)Inoffensive words and not railing, bitter, slanderous, blasphemous, or filthy: no, nor even such jesting words as irritate, disgrace, and bite.

(c)Seasonable words (Proverbs 15:23).

(d)Wholesome words (Ephesians 4:29).

2. Powdered with salt. The reference is to the salt of sacrifice, and the salt of preservation.(1) It is implied that there are corrupt words which want seasoning.

(a)The talk of the covetous is of mammon.

(b)Epicures talk of sports and pleasures.

(c)The superstitious of the signs of heaven, etc.

(d)The wrathful of vengeance.

(e)The ambitious of their prospects.(2) Christians must season this corruption.

(a)There is the salt of doctrine, whereby those who have it become the salt of the earth.

(b)The salt of mortification, which every Christian must have in himself.

(c)The salt of discretion (James 3:2).

II. THE END OF THE PRECEPT — "That ye may know how to answer." Observe, in general, that by speaking well we learn to speak well; and that the soundest knowledge is experimental. He knows not how to answer that practice himself, no matter how many arguments he may have in his head. To answer does not always mean to reply, but sometimes to continue to speak (Matthew 11:25).

1. As to answering unbelievers. Notice —(1) True grace is sure to be opposed; let therefore every Christian expect it, and be prepared for it.(2) Every Christian ought to answer for the truth wherever and by whomsoever, opposed.(3) It is not easy to answer well, therefore note the requisities —

(a)Deliberation and understanding of the matter.

(b)Prayer (Proverbs 16:1; Habakkuk 2:1).

(c)Faith in God's favour and promise (Matthew 10:19; Psalm 119:41-42).

(d)Discretion concerning time, place, occasion, persons (Proverbs 25:11; Proverbs 26:4, 6).



(g)A good conscience (1 Peter 15, 16).

2. As to answering believers, observe that —(1) Christians should propound their doubts one to another.(2) Strong Christians should help the weak with instruction and arguments (Romans 2:19).(3) However hard all answers should be gracious, seasonable, and profit able.(4) Custom in gracious speech breeds, by God's blessing, an ability to give sound judgment, advice, and resolution of doubts. It is not wit, learning, or authority, that breeds this.

(N. Byfield.)

When we consider the importance of speech, the ease with which we speak, and the pleasure we derive from this faculty, no wonder so much labour has been taken to improve it. Hundreds of rhetoricians have giving rules respecting "the art of speaking well." But that is really a Christian grace. Christianity alone lays down the fundamental rules of good speaking, and puts us in the way of doing most good with the talent of speech.

I. THE PRECEPT shows —

1. The character of Christian converse. It must be gracious.(1) Good words flow from grace no less than good deeds. When God gave you a new heart He gave you a new tongue. Words are the pictures of thought, and "out of the abundance of the heart the month speaketh." When grace is in the heart means will be employed to forward the work of grace in others (Psalm 66:16).(2) Speech is always to be with grace, not now and then. How many Christians there are whose words at times are all they ought to be, and at others the reverse.

2. Its properties — "seasoned with salt."(1) Salt is an article of food, so our conversation should be morally and in tellectually nutritive.(3) Salt gives a relish to ordinary food. How helpful may converse be in making the dry monotonies of life and the hard fare of affliction palatable.(3) Salt preserves, and so should speech preserve the family, neigh bourhood, country. How many a family, society, nation, have been preserved from corruption by the wise counsels of a father, citizen, statesman.(4) Salt heals (2 Kings 2:21), and so a few gracious words of meekness have healed the most serious breaches. "A soft answer turneth away wrath."

II. THE END AND USE OF THE PRECEPT — "That ye may know," etc. How much wisdom is needed for this. Many a good man has done much mischief for want of prudence here; by ill timed zeal, dogmatism, offensive statement of truth, wrangling discussion. For the better ordering of speech —

1. Consider the end of it. Speech was not given to man for God's sake. He can tell the meaning of the heart without words; nor for our own sakes — it is unnecessary for the perception of individual wants; but for the benefit of others. Recollect, then, when you open your lips .that it should be for the good of those who hear you.

2. Meditate before speaking. "If you think twice before you speak once, you will speak twice the better for it."

3. Be moderate in speech. It is evident by the design of providence that the faculty of speech should be used less than most others. We have but one tongue, but two ears, two eyes, etc. "Let thy words be few." "Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak." "A fool is known by the multitude of words." The weakest minds are often the most garrulous; they unconsciously make up in number of words what they lack in wisdom; whereas the wisest try to say much in few words. There is far the most depth where there is least noise.

(T. Watson, B. A.)

I. BY SPEECH WITH GRACE the apostle does not mean what is so often miscalled religious conversation. This is good in fit time and place, and to proper persons. But it is distasteful and injurious when obtruded unseasonably; worthless when it runs into perplexing technicalities; offensive when it degenerates into unmeaning cant; mischievous when it feeds the habit of morbid introspection. But there is a grace which, blending with speech, on all sorts of subjects and occasions, may make the whole intercourse of life religious. Our Saviour at Bethany would not talk with His friends only on God and heaven, but about their earthly concerns and friends; yet there was that in all His words which indicated Him as the Holy One of God. The traits of grace which should mark the conversations of Christians are —

1. Truth. The Christian has, of course, put away lying; yet there are excellent persons who are careless as to exact and literal truth, on whose lips a surmise takes the place of a fact, and who, while they would not for their right hand make a lie for themselves, are not equally scrupulous about lies made by others, or those which grow from tongue to tongue. Yet there is no deviation from truth which may not either do mischief to others, or reflect on him who gives it currency. How few confine themselves to what they know 1 There are so many things outside this limit which give zest to social intercourse; while literal speech is so jejune and dull. Yet speech thus weighed may save from fearful complicity in evil.

2. Sincerity —(1) in the expression of opinions. On many subjects on which the clear utterance of all who think soberly would be as efficient in demolishing the wrong and establishing the right as Joshua's trumpet blast, good men pause to listen when they ought to speak, or speak ambiguously so that their words may seem to favour the winning side. Hence public opinion on subjects of prime importance is manufactured by those interested in the wrong. No moral force is so mighty as outspoken Christian opinion. It is a trust, therefore, for the common good, and should be used —(2) In the expression of feeling. Silence or sincerity should be the alternative. Bad feeling ought not to be uttered, but while it rankles in the heart it ought not to be forced into hypocritical utterance. Let, the artifice which gives truth-like expression to the proper feelings we do not feel be exchanged into the endeavour to suppress in our hearts all we should blush to utter. But every genuine emotion demands and merits unconstrained expression. Admiration, enthusiasm, love of beauty, all kindly sympathies, by natural and hearty utterance gain strength, and bless those who speak and those who hear; while he who keeps right feelings under a perpetual restraint becomes the cold and passionless clod he tries to seem.

3. Kindness.(1) The tongue is the chief instrument of and hindrance to charity. What is charity without it? It is only the very abject that can enjoy mere alms, and what is coldly or chidingly given starves and chills the soul while it feeds and warms the body: whereas there are words which bless even the poor more than gifts, by imparting inspiration and awakening hope.(2) In ordinary social life, too, kind speech is demanded beyond all other forms of kindness. More unhappiness is caused through unkind speech than through all else combined. What beneficent agency can be compared with that of him or her in whose ears all scandal lies buried, and whose lips are hollowed for gentle ministries of encouragement and refinement.(3) It is not enough that we pull up all roots of bitterness from the heart. There is not a little of unkind speech that is not meant to be so. The fibres of human feeling are tremulously sensitive to our unskilled touch.

4. Modesty. "In honour preferring one another" is a rule for conversation. The opinionativeness which always knows it is right and everybody else wrong; self-assertion, the ambition for effect barely tolerable in genius are disgusting in mediocrity. Mutual instruction and entertainment are the chief uses of conversation, and these ends are defeated when one assumes as his the right to be an oracle.

5. Reverence. When the tone of reverence is low, there is a vicious tendency to introduce sacred things to give raciness to an anecdote, or to point a jest. But when the natural track of conversation leads near the oracles of God, there should always be in our speech that which corresponds to the taking off of the shoes of our feet on holy ground.

II. SPEECH SEASONED WITH SALT, i.e., not insipid, as talk is that is only negatively good.

1. Its importance. It is frequently lack of salt that has brought religious conversation into disrepute. The more grace there is in the words the more salt do they need to make them palatable, and to render them worthy of themes so high. In the intercourse of daily life there is a willingness merely to fill up the time with a continuous flow of words, no matter with how little wit or sense or even freshness. But the Christian should regard the capacity for conversation as a talent to be employed for precious uses. More than anything else it makes home attractive, gives a charm to society, and counteracts, when well employed, the charm of vicious society.

2. Its cultivation. In order to talk well(1) we must not enter into conversation lazily and listlessly. It is net thus that we engage in other recreations, the best of which are only varied employments.(2) We need to train ourselves and should keep ourselves abreast of current topics, and so exercise our minds upon them that we may not reproduce the hackneyed commonplaces of the press and street.(3) We need to read much and well with a view of being conversant with what everybody is ready to talk about, and to have our own speciality from which we can contribute to the common stock of knowledge.(4) Then as to conversational power there is the widest difference between him who moves ever as in a blind study, and him who goes through life with his eyes and ears wide open. The incidents of a walk through crowded streets or country lanes, the treasured experiences of distant travel, the curious information gleaned from transient fellow-wayfarers, the contents of an old book may add largely to one's materials for pleasant and appetising conversation.(5) We must throw ourselves unreservedly into social intercourse instead of keeping up our own insulated trains of thought, listening by snatches, and answering at haphazard. If we want to meditate let it be in solitude. If we talk, that is our work for the time being, and let us put our best into it. If the theme be grave, let it have our ripest thoughts in well-weighted utterance; if gay, let us contribute what we can of mirth.

III. BUT WITH THE SALT NEVER FORGET THE GRACE. Not mere amusement is the Christian's aim, but edification, i.e., building up the social edifice with its substantial foundation, frame, and walls of solid principle, with its firm fretwork and tracery that shall lack no element of beauty. There are occasions on which he must speak directly in defence of the truth and plead his blaster's cause, and sometimes deal out rebuke. But there are more numerous occasions when, with a heart always loyal, he can serve the cause of virtue much more efficiently by talking on common subjects in a Christian way, and by dropping unostentatiously, ever and anon, a word in season that may be a seed-thought for a spiritual harvest.

(A. P. Peabody, D. D.)


1. On account of their number. Great part of human life is passed in talking. How many millions of words are uttered in the course of a long human life.

2. On account of their consequences. There are many things which are very easy to do, but the effects of which will last for ages. It is easy to sow an acorn, it is soon done; but the growth of the acorn is not soon done; it becomes an oak, which will defy the tempests of a thousand years. The conflagration of Chicago was very soon done.



1. The cure for vain speech. St. James says, "Be ye swift to hear, slow to speak."

2. The source of gracious speech.



(R. Abercrombie, M. A.)

That does not mean the "Attic salt of wit." There is nothing more wearisome than the talk of men who are always trying to be piquant and brilliant. Such speech is like a "pillar of salt," it sparkles, but is cold, and has points that wound, and it tastes bitter. That is not what Paul recommends.

I. SALT WAS USED IN SACRIFICE. Let the sacrificial salt be applied to all our words, i.e., let all we say be offered to God, "a sacrifice of praise to God continually."

II. SALT PRESERVES. Put into your speech what will keep it from rotting. "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth." Frivolous talk, dreary gossip, ill-natured, idle, to say nothing of foul and wicked words, will be silenced when your speech is seasoned with salt.

III. SALT GIVES SAVOUR TO FOOD. Do not deal in insipid generalities, but suit your words to your hearers, "that ye may know," etc. Speech that fits close to the characteristics and wants of the people to whom it is spoken is sure to be interesting, but that which does not will for them be insipid. Commonplaces that hit full against the hearer will be no commonplaces to him, and the most brilliant words that do not meet his minds or needs will to him be tasteless "as the white of an egg." Individual peculiarities, then, must determine the wise way of approach to each man, and there will be a wide variety of methods. Paul's language to the wild hill tribes of Lycaonia was not the same as to the cultivated, curious crowd on Mars Hill, and his sermons in the synagogues have a different tone from his reasonings before Felix.

IV. SALT HAS TO RE RUBBED IN if it is to do any good. Preaching to a congregation has its own place and value; but private and personal talk, honestly and wisely done, will effect more than the most eloquent preaching. Better to drill the seeds, dropping them one by one into the little pits made for their reception, than to sow them broadcast.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I have read of a lady who, writing to a young man in the navy, thought, "Shall I close this as anybody would, or shall I say a word for my Master?" and, lifting up her heart for a moment, she wrote, telling him that his constant change of scene and place was an apt illustration of the Word, "Here we have no continuing city," and asked if he could say, "I seek one to come." Trembling she folded it, and sent it off. Back came the answer: "Thank you so much for those kind words. I am an orphan, and no one has spoken to me like that since my mother died, long years ago." The arrow, shot at venture, hit home, and the young man shortly after rejoiced in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of peace.

A clergyman sailing up the Hudson River in a sloop, some forty years since, was pained by the profaneness of a young man. Seeking a favourable opportunity, he told him he had wounded his feelings by speaking against his best friend — the Saviour. The young man showed no relentings, and at one of the landings left the boat. Seven years after, as this clergyman went to the General Assembly at Philadelphia, a young minister accosted him, saying he thought he remembered his countenance, and asked him if he was not on board a sloop on the Hudson River, seven years before, with a profane young man. "I," said he, "am that young man. After I left the sloop I thought I had injured both you and your Saviour. I was led to Him for mercy, and I felt that I must preach His love to others. I am now in the ministry, and have come as a representative to this Assembly."

(British Workman.)

Do not mistake vinegar for oil, or pepper for salt. "Seasoned with salt." Let it be tasteful and savoury. I read, quite lately, a most striking incident, showing the tower of grace seasoned with salt in speaking a timely word to one that was without. An officer in your army was led to help a lady who was an earnest worker among soldiers. One evening, after helping at a soldiers' tea, he came to her, evidently much excited, and said, "I have almost made up my mind that I will never come here again." She expressed, of course, her regret, and asked what had happened. "Oh, So-and-so has been at me about coming here as I do, and being such a card-player as I am. But I can't give up my cards; that I shall never do." "Oh," said the lady, "I am sorry that you have been spoken to in that way. You can't give up your cards. I should never ask you to do that. Why, it is all you have got. You must have something." Well, that was "grace seasoned with salt," for it brought him to himself. He saw that if that card-playing was taken from him he had nothing left; and he had no rest until the love of Jesus had delivered him from the love of the world.

(A. Monod, D. D.)

I shall never forget the way a thirsty individual once begged of me on Clapham Common. I saw him with a very large truck in which he was carrying a very small parcel, and I wondered why he had not put the parcel in his pocket and left the machine at home. I said, "It looks odd to see so large a truck for so small a load." He stopped, and, looking me seriously in the face, he said, "Yes, sir, it is a very odd thing; but do you know I have met with an odder thing than that this very day. I have been about working and sweating all this 'ere blessed day, and till now I haven't met a single gentleman that looked as if he'd give me a pint of beer till I saw you." I considered that turn in the conversation very neatly managed; and we, with a far better subject upon our minds, ought to be equally able to introduce the topic on which our heart is set. There was an ease in the man's manner which I envied, for I did not find it quite so simple a matter to introduce my own topic to his notice; yet if I had been thinking as much about how I could do him good as he had upon how to obtain a drink, I feel sure I should have succeeded in reaching my point.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Travelling by diligence from Geneva to Dole with a Roman Catholic, I said to him, simply, "I should like to speak to you about your soul, but I don't know how to go about it." "Well, sir, go on," said the man, heartily. I continued, or rather we continued, and, on leaving him, I had the happiness of hearing him thank God for having made some one speak to him of salvation, and he begged me to send him a Bible. In general, I have found that if one commences a conversation of this kind with kindness and politeness, one will be always listened to. This is, besides, the only way to succeed.

(C. Malan.)

"What awakened you?" said a Christian minister on one occasion to a young friend. "It was what you said to me one evening coming out of the lecture-room. As you took me by the hand, you said, 'Mary, one thing is needful. You said nothing else, and passed on; but I could not forget it.'" It was a word spoken in the Spirit, and the Lord accompanied it with saving power. The sculptor, Bacon, being an earnest Christian, used to seek opportunities of introducing religion into his conversation. On one of these occasions, the lady he addressed, said, "As to that, my religion is to fear God, and keep His commandments; so we will talk no more on such matters." Bacon replied, '"But, madam, you will recollect it is said, 'they that feared the Lord spake often one to another.'"

(J. F. B. Tinling.)

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