Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Not What, But How...

“It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it,” ever heard that before? I have, and I have said it a hundred times to my children, to my employees, to many others; and how true this statement is for us as Christians. How is that true for us as believers, you may be asking? Today, the Lord showed me the fine line we walk between speaking in love with grace and being judgmental. This is a hard lesson for me to learn today because I like to talk, and write, and talk; did I mention that I like to talk? Most of you who know me will agree with the statement I am about to write. When I get to talking about Jesus, you can never get me to shut up! I am always “putting my two cents in”. But the Lord showed me today that though there is nothing wrong with giving my opinion, or speaking, there is a way to say what He desires us to say. There is a biblical truth in “not what you say, but how you say it.”
                Most of us have been the recipient of someone “pointing” out our faults, or in some cases being judged. I see it, I have been a recipient of it, and I have done it to others. Paul tells us in Colossians 4:6 that we are to “Let [our] your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” What does this have to do with the lesson the Lord is teaching me today? Everything!
                Paul is talking to us believers as we communicate with one another and with the outside world. He is telling us that our behaviors and our words go hand in hand. Paul tells us that our “speech always be with grace,” I can honestly say that this is not always the case with me. I knew the Lord was showing me something here today, and I needed to dig for some treasure. When Paul uses the term “grace” he is using it in the context of “that which affords joy, pleasure, and delight; that which bestows or occasions pleasure, or causes favorable regard.” (Vines dictionary) Um, I don’t think my speech is always in line with that kind of grace. In fact, there are times where I know I have put a wedge in between me and a sister or brother because of the way I said something to them.
                Paul is reminding us that we are not the Holy Spirit, which is something I think we forget when we are speaking to one another. Is it your responsibility to point out all the errors of someone’s ways? Is it your responsibility to speak to a person all the things you desire them to change about themselves? Is it? If you said yes to these questions, then I hope that these next few paragraphs will help you see and understand that you are not entitled or responsible for the salvation of others. (Bear with me, and I will explain)
                Paul goes on to tell us that not only are we to speak grace, but our speech should also be “seasoned with salt.” Salt is used by Jesus to teach us how we are to act and behave towards one another and to the world. Salt was a very important aspect of the everyday life of the Jews during the time of Jesus. Jon Courson writes, “Theirs (the middle east) being a hot, desert climate, salt was invaluable in stemming the effects of dehydration.”
Jesus tells us that “we are the salt of the earth”, (Matthew 5:13) Jesus is telling us that we are the ones that preserve and keep from dehydration the ones who are being saved. When you see a brother or a sister walking a path they should not, or perhaps you see that they need some direction, we need to be careful to have our words “seasoned with salt”. Making sure that what we speak to them will build them up, encourage them and make them want to seek the Lord Jesus Christ for His help- not ours. We should always be the ones pointing others to Jesus. The world we live in is full of sin and death, no flavor- what changes that flavor is the salt. God knows the state of the world, and He has laid out in His word the solution to the problems. Our constant “pointing out” of the errors of others is not going to bring them to Christ, but it will drive them farther away. Jesus said that if our salt loses its purpose then it will be cast aside and trodden under the feet of those we are trying to “season”. (Luke 14:34-35)
Jon Courson writes, “Salt promotes thirst, and as the salt of the earth, we should be making those around us thirsty for the living water of Jesus Christ. People should say (in response to your speech), “There is something about you that creates in me a thirst for what you’re enjoying.” But if we are so focused on what that person needs to “change” or what that person is doing wrong, do you honestly think their response is going to be, “Oh, I am so thankful you pointed out to me all my many faults! I want what you have! Thank you for showing me the errors of my ways. ” (Seriously?) Are you so thankful when someone tells you all that is “wrong” with you?
                Paul is adamant that our speech, the words that come off our tongues are to be pleasant, “seasoned” with salt. Seasoned means to be full of wisdom and grace, pleasant and wholesome, fitted for that specific instant or situation. I only know of a few people that  have ever been able to speak that way to me, and One of them is Jesus Christ, the other two are women whom have always led me back to Him. When the Lord speaks to me, His words encourage me, they build me up, they chasten me with a grace that is pleasant to taste. But, like many others, I have been the recipient of words that tore me down, chastened me to the point where I felt ashamed, and in no way were they pleasing to my pallet. In fact, I wanted to get away from that person, because I knew the words that they were speaking were not from the Lord, but from their own opinions.
                I think the Lord is telling us today to stop pointing the salt shaker and just be the salt. Let the Lord Jesus Christ be the One that pours out the amount of salt that is needed to lift up, encourage and draw others to Him. We are not the Holy Spirit, it is not our responsibility to convict or convince others into the salvation that is freely theirs. You are not able to change yourself, why do we think we can change others? We have not that kind of power. You were unable to change anything about yourself until the Holy Spirit came to dwell on the inside of you- the same way change happens  to our husbands, children, brethren and sisters in the Lord, and those in the world; only by the power of the Holy Spirit.           
                We are the salt of the earth- He is the chef who decides how much salt is needed. So, how then do we let our speech be with grace, seasoned with salt? We ask a simple question before we “speak”. Do the words I am about to speak lead them to Jesus? We are salt that will always lead back to the One who shook us out in the first place. If we do this than the promise given will follow- “we will know how we ought to answer each one.” We do not praise the salt for the wonderful flavors of food that we are eating, no, we praise the Chef. Our words should always point others to Christ, our words should never point, convict or condemn someone else for who they are, what they do or what they speak. That is and always will be His responsibility. One last word from the Lord Jesus and Paul the Apostle, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” Philippians 2:12. It is not up to us, it is all about Him.
                Lord I pray that the words I write today let them point back to You, the author and finisher of our faith. May the words I speak be full of grace and seasoned with the exact amount of salt You desire to season us with. In Jesus name I do pray. Amen