We all know the power of words, having felt that power many times in our lives. We have had words of love and encouragement spoken into us. There have been words to inspire and ignite; words to build up and cheer us on in some of the worse moments of our lives. There have been words of blessings but there have also been words of cursing. There have been words that have acted as a destructive force, trying to rob us of our joy and peace. There have been words that have robbed us of our dreams and prevented us from moving on to overcome things in our lives. There have been ugly, useless words that have buffeted key moments of our lives. Words are powerful indeed.
Sometimes it is the word itself that has the power and sometimes it is the intent behind the word. Some of the most wonderful words can be spoken into our lives with a maliciousness that steals away any value they contained to bless. It is the latter that I believe Paul was referring to when he wrote:
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6)
It is not the "what" that Paul is referring to but the "how". Some people may look at this verse and see the "what" but Jesus told us not to worry about the "what" because when we walk in the Spirit the Spirit will always fill our mouths with the right words to say. It is the manner in which we say it that we must pay attention. It is a conversation full of grace and seasoned with salt that will keep the powerful words of God powerful.
You can yell at someone that you love them until your face turns blue but the yelling is robbing the word of its power. You can tell people that God loves and forgives them but if there is lack of grace in the manner in which you speak there will be no power behind those words. We are a people of grace and, no matter the actions of other people, we must respond as a people of grace. Just as a gentle answer turns away wrath, an answer seasoned with salt opens the heart to receiving the words, the blessings, the encouragement.
I think sometimes parents forget that their teens are in great need of this grace and these words seasoned with salt. Too often we parents allow our emotional attachment to our kids block out our spiritual responsibility to respond and not react. Just because the emotional teen in front of us is yelling at us because of a momentary panic in their lives does not mean we need to have an emotional reaction to them. The words of grace, seasoned with salt must be applied. The moment will pass, we will still have our peace, and our teen is not so emotional any more. You may even discover that the Spirit gives just the right words to speak into their situation.
As followers of Jesus we should see how Jesus responded to people, even those who were trying to trap him. By the Spirit he had the right words to speak but he also responded with much grace. Who were they to question the Son of God? But he lowered himself to their level and spoke with patience, love, kindness and grace. They were confounded and stumped by the simple things with which he responded. You have that same Spirit. Trust God for the words and you concentrate on the attitude. Let's make sure we are not doing anything to rob God's words of their power.