Calvin Coolidge once said, “I have noticed that nothing I never said did me any harm.”
This is cleverly stated wisdom to which we would do well to listen. Another wise man called the tongue a “fire, a world of evil… set on fire by hell.” (James 3:6) Pretty stout words! Maybe President Coolidge had read them.
Maybe he had read what another apostle had written too. Paul weighs in on this subject in Colossians 4:6. Consider his words:
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
It is no mistake that the Spirit shares much heavenly wisdom concerning our tongue and speech. If not properly disciplined, our tongue can betray our Christian calling faster than anything. Our goal is to reflect Christ’s character with our speech. Paul’s words in Colossians tell us how. Our speech should be:
•Full of Grace- Speech that is cutting, sarcastic, unkind, rude, biting and mean does not demonstrate God’s grace. Grace speech is generous, patient, kind, understanding and forgiving. A tongue governed by grace seeks to help and encourage- not tear down. It says only “what is helpful for building up others.” (Ephesians 4:29)
•Seasoned with Salt- Tempered, wise and beneficial are the ideas of salt-seasoned speech. It is not quick to spout something off without thinking. It is considerate speech that flows from a thoughtful heart. It is perfectly attuned to the idea of being “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)
•Know how to Answer- This is the practical aspect. This is wise speech lived and demonstrated. Proper attitudes and words chosen carefully are consistent to our Christian calling. One sure-fire way to undermine influence is to answer without grace, patience and understanding. This is one reason why James taught, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (1:26) It is just not what we answer but also how we answer that counts.
Don’t let this “small part of the body” (James 3:5) take control of you. Be wise and temper your tongue. Take the spiritual advice given and be “seasoned with salt” in all you say and do. Just think of all the trouble avoided by doing so!