As is typical of Paul, he is ending the book of Colossians with a list of proverbs that they could remember as the church continued to develop. One particularly stood out to me.
Col 4:6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
After watching the primary debate last night and thinking about how important every word can be, it makes me think about us as Christians. We are also judged by the world around us as a result of our speech and our testimony. Therefore, Paul encourages the believers to make sure that they are always graceful.
What does Paul mean however by seasoning with salt? Salt enhances flavor. Therefore, we do need to care about the way that we say things. As we all know and have probably experienced, speaking the truth can hurt people, but there are ways of speaking the truth in love. That relates to the graciousness.
As an example, there’s no doubt in the Biblical testimony that stealing what does not belong to you is morally wrong. Imagine that you caught your child stealing something. There are a few ways you can respond. You can yell at your child and entirely belittle him. That is honest, but I don’t know it is gracious. Another approach is that you can clearly tell your child that that was wrong, but it can be done in a more sensitive way. The consequence is that need to change, and the message does not need to change, but one “tastes” better because of the way it was presented.
In our world today, Christians believe some things that might not be popular. We cannot compromise or lie about our convictions. We need to stand for truth, but at the same time, we need to find a way to speak to these issues that is compassionate.
I know that I write a lot for you, and Proverbs 15 reminded me of something that I always need to keep at the forefront of my mind. The reason for that is because when I write for you, I hope that I am able to provide something of value. I am not claiming to be the greatest theologian of all time, and I would rather be thought of as a lay-person who is reading the Bible with the intention of learning rather than the intention of telling you everything I already know.
However, in this process of learning, there are times I need to do research, and there are times I need to seriously think about what I am about to write. Some issues are complicated, and some theological positions require more than a surface level understanding.
That is where this verse from Proverbs comes in.
Pro 15:28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
I don’t just want to write for you for the sake of putting something on the page. Obviously, I have committed to writing every day, but I need to remember that it should not be hasty. I need to seriously ponder how I am communicating and what I am communicating. The last thing I want to do is pour out evil things because I did not seriously try to understand what God was communicating through these passages.
Again, I don’t claim to be a perfect theologian, and if you haven’t found something already, I am sure that there is some point where we will disagree on a certain Biblical interpretation.
However, I think that the message of this Proverb hits right near home at least for me. I hope that I can remember that I’m not just writing for the sake of putting words on the page. I am writing because I think the Bible is important, and I think it is important for people to engage with the material from the word of God.
Before writing anything or even speaking, we always ought to remember that a little bit of thought and contemplation will help. It is important to make sure that we are communicating what we intend.
1 Chronicles 4 is yet another family tree. This time we get to read about Judah. However, embedded in the middle of this long list of names is a pretty great breakdown of how to pray.
1Ch 4:9 And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.
1Ch 4:10 And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.
What do we know about Jabez? For one thing, we know that he was honorable. When people have their lives together and are doing things that please God, I would be willing to bet that they already have a pretty good prayer life. It is not a prosperity gospel; I am simply saying that being in touch with God helps us make good decisions in terms of how “honorable” we are.
We then get to have a glimpse into his actual prayer life. Right off the bat he asked God for blessing. He knew that God can do it, and he was not afraid to ask. Sometimes, I wonder if we are afraid to ask God for what we want. I don’t know why we are afraid, but God wants to help us and give us what we need. Sometimes we need to be willing to ask.
However, he doesn’t want to do it alone. He wants God’s hand to be with him. He wants help avoiding evil, and he wants help keeping evil away from him. I think that the first one applies to his conscious decisions, and I think that a second one applies to keeping temptation away. Of course, giving into temptation becomes a conscious sin, but if God can help us keep temptation away in the first place, it makes life easier.
Remember, when we are praying, we should be doing both of these things. We should be telling God our problems and where we need extra help, but we can certainly also ask for blessings. We can ask that certain good or desirable things happen. Of course, God will ultimately grant whatever requests are in His will, but we need to make sure that we are keeping the lines of communication open.
Moses and Aaron were thrown into a difficult situation at the end of Exodus chapter 5. Basically, God had told them to go talk to Pharaoh about allowing the Israelites to go worship God in the wilderness and have a feast.
They bravely went and did that, but Pharaoh shut them down. In fact, he did even more than that. He made conditions worse on the Hebrew slaves. He made them now go gather their own straw to make bricks rather than providing it.
After unsuccessfully complaining to Pharaoh, the Israelite leaders were upset and came to Moses and Aaron.
Exo 5:20 And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh:
Exo 5:21 And they said unto them, The LORD look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us.
Exo 5:22 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me?
Exo 5:23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.
Moses was understandably upset. After all, he did exactly what God told him to do, and from what he knew at the moment, that plan had fallen on its face. Of course, it really didn’t fail, but since Moses could not see the future, he understandably wondered what was going on.
However, the most important part of his response is the fact that he went directly to God with his problems. He could have moped around or he even could have tried to create some type of rival plan that would try to get the Hebrew people out of Egypt. Any plan like that would have failed, but Moses could have tried to rely on his own strength.
He knew that if he wanted this problem solved, he needed God to help them, and he was very honest with God.
Php 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Php 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
It is often tempting to think that we can take on anything. I am sure that we all have mistaken something that God did through our lives as something that we did ourselves. We are anxious to take credit for things.
Like Moses though, we need to remember that some problems might be big, but God’s plan is still at work and we need to communicate with Him rather than try to go it on our own.