How to Be “Seasoned with Salt” toward Outsiders (A Bible Study on Colossians 4:5-6)
WHAT DOES IT SAY?
5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
This is Paul’s last final instructions for us in this letter. 4 big points:
1. Be wise in your way
2. Make the most of every opportunity
3. Shape our conversation
4. Know how to answer outsiders
WHAT’S THE BACKSTORY?
A. On outsiders and opportunities:
People are being added to the church every day – God is not just the God of the Jewish people but of everyone. The gospel of Jesus Christ is about being saved through grace by faith. Paul is saying, “you have to engage with those outside the faith.”
Ephesians 5:15-16 states “Be careful then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…”
B. On conversation:
1 Peter 3:15: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” This verse assumes you are living hopeful. Amid your sufferings, you have a hope that makes people want to ask you, “Why are you the way you are?” Are you living hopeful? Are you living joyful, despite your troubles?
C. On being seasoned with salt:
Salt is used to season food, to make it palatable and enrich the flavor. But salt is also a “symbol of lasting concord,” and the Arabic expression “There is salt between us” implies eating together and developing a friendship. Speech seasoned with salt can mean several things:
1. Salt, as a seasoning, makes speech more intriguing and enticing to the listener. Paul was known to speak this way, as with the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in Athens. Salt, as a symbol of friendship, implies that believers were not to “preach” to their non-believing neighbors, but to be in relationship and friendship with them, letting their actions and conduct join with their “seasoned” words in sharing the gospel.
2. Salt has also been associated with wit and is sometimes rendered “common sense.” The multiple meanings bring forth vivid imagery that points the reader to the importance of graceful speech in the context of meaningful relationships with non-believers to share the “mystery of Christ.”
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
(Remember, at this point in Bible Study you are looking for timeless principles or truth that transcends our own time and culture) –
1. The gospel is for all! The playing field has been leveled.
2. As our hearts grow in knowledge and love for Christ, we also grow in wisdom and love for those outside of the kingdom.
3. The gospel requires intentionality in our relationships
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME?
1. Who is an outsider of the faith in your life? Can you write them down in your prayer journal and pray specifically for them?
2. Another application of the passage would be on the need to have a clear, succinct knowledge of our faith. Understanding the “mystery of Christ” and knowing how to present it with clarity and conviction is required “so that you may know how to answer to everyone.”
Scripture that is central to salvation must be written on the Christian’s heart. Knowing how to answer to everyone implies that there are questions! Slick programs and spiritual platitudes cannot cultivate a faith that is rooted deeply enough for the demands of life. When believers understand that they must meet “outsiders” where they are, they are alert to opportunities for spiritual conversation. To prepare to know how to answer, a teaching from this passage could prompt listeners to process some of their own questions as they came to the knowledge of Christ, and then use that conversation to prepare their own wise, “seasoned with salt” responses.
Nicole has spent twenty years serving the local church, first in student ministry (where she’s never lost her love of a great group game) and then leading start-ups of all kinds, from leadership development to capital campaigns. She now teaches and consults with churches and ministries to strengthen their stories and cut through confusion to discover the next right steps for success.