We must take care to treat each other with grace, speech ALWAY with GRACE seasoned with salt, speaking truth in LOVE. We cannot afford to act like the world. There’s a certain model in worldly channels on places like YouTube, in which someone disagrees with someone else about whatever. And in a video, they take the sewer-level approach of defending their position by propping up that other person, assaulting the character of that person, making that person the villain, viciously attacking him and the people who listen to him.
That is a no-class, low-tier, bottom-rung, in-the-flesh strategy of bringing attention to yourself by tearing others down. We’ve seen people in grace do this, as well, and this is something that spreads like cancer. There’s nothing acceptable about it. I hear them and think, “Okay, you talk about grace. So where is it? Where’s the grace?
Grace isn’t about teaching mid-Acts dispensationalism, although that’s part of it. Grace is the life you live. Grace is the way you think. Grace is the way you interact with others.
What’s the point of vitriolic nastiness in your speech about anything? Just so you can win an argument? So what? The only thing you’ve proven is that you’re the one who is ignorant of His grace and how it works. Whatever the topic may be is irrelevant because every topic goes back to God’s grace. If you’re going to teach grace, then you must live the life of grace. Period. Where’s the humble gratitude like Paul for His grace that even made him able to talk about His grace (1 Cor. 15:9-10)? Who are you to teach His grace if you’re not willing to live it? And tear others down? If you’re not willing to rise to the occasion to run that race and have the fullness of His grace living out of you, then you need to step down and find another job. What did Paul tell Timothy? He said, “be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” Paul’s words to Timothy are God’s words to us, and we are to be an example. It’s our responsibility, all of us, to be a light of His grace in the world.
Why should anyone embrace the love of God and the grace of God from men who speak nothing but condescending hatred? Who wants to be part of a grace movement that has no grace? The one showing the least amount of grace is the one who is the most ignorant of his grace and is probable the one who is most in need of seeing grace at work in us.
When Paul speaks of speech alway with grace, seasoned with salt, did he give us any room for exceptions? When Paul said to “only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ”, let me ask a question. Were you won over by the gospel through all kinds of words of hatred? Love pleads with gentleness… meekness… kindness. Speaking truth in love. It’s not just that our conversations wouldn’t turn others off from the gospel but they’re conversations that draws them to the gospel. Conversations that are reflections of the character of the gospel itself: peace, love, grace. Remember how Paul said, “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” Hey, if all you’re doing is showing condescending hatred toward people with whom you disagree, then your opinion about anything is worthless. If you’re going to talk about His grace, you’ve got to live His grace life, be a model of His grace. We can’t be just grace believers. We have to be grace doers.
Consider How Love Operates
To be a model of His grace requires that you have the very attributes of agape love living out of you, love that suffereth long, love that is kind to those with whom you disagree and who consider themselves to be your enemies. Just as God showed love to us when we were enemies to Him, we are to show love to others even when they are enemies to us. Love that doesn’t envy what others have, love that isn’t about self-promotion. Love that doesn’t put itself on a pedestal. Love that doesn’t make a vain display of its own inflated sense of self-worth. Love that isn’t puffed up and full of arrogance and condescension. Love that doesn’t behave itself unseemly. Love that isn’t rude, bullying, because love isn’t carnal in its thinking. Love that doesn’t tear down but builds up. Love that is ever willing to become all things to all people for the sake of their salvation and edification.
True love isn’t selfish. True love does not strictly care for one’s own physical or spiritual welfare only but also of others. Love is never satisfied except in the welfare, in the spiritual growth, and in the salvation of everyone else. True love is a Christian who looks past himself to the well-being, to the salvation and the edification of others. Love doesn’t get triggered. Love will have nothing to do with anger. Love is not made bitter or given to wrath. If love be provoked in any way, it should be provoked to extend more love to others. Love rejoices in the truth. Love doesn’t tear down others for not knowing truth but gently beseeches others to accept the truth. Love also bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love is the strength that bears the weight of all things. Love conditions you to perform well even when you’re weak. Love maintains consistency throughout all suffering, throughout all the wrongs done to you, all the errors of others. Love never loses its power. Love continues no matter how bad the circumstances may get. And love hopes for the best. Love wants the best for everyone, especially those with whom you differ.
We must also have a healthy love, abounding ever more, which is also why Paul told the Thessalonians that they were taught of God to love one another, and the Colossians, that love is the bond of perfectness. Love is the bond, the ligament, the glue that holds the Body and the entire program of grace together. And with perfectness, you get the sense of full maturity, the ultimate fulfillment of everything God intended for us in this victory program of grace. When believers exercise love toward each other, they remain bound together in a complete whole. Love binds together, whereas selfishness or the flesh is just the opposite. Flesh tears apart. Love binds. Love removes the difficulties in human relations, whereas self and the flesh bring in difficulties. Love not only bears and forbears but overcomes evil with good and binds together the Body of Christ.
Speaking Truth in Love
Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: What does it mean to speak the truth of love? Does this not mean that you’re sharing truth in the context of true pure love for that person? Love determines the tone and words you use to share the truth. Love doesn’t condemn those who are wrong. Love, in grace, beseeches, love humbly pleads with gentleness and meekness to embrace the truth because that truth will not only reconcile them with God but also help them to experience the joy and the peace that we know God wants them to feel resting in His truths.
As Mike would say, “People won’t care about what you know until they know you care about them.” When you speak truth in love, even when you’re not feeling it, it will affect the way you feel. You feel good living this way! You’re creating an environment even with unbelievers filled with grace and love! Rom 12:9 Let love be without dissimulation, without hypocrisy. You love them sincerely. This means that your actions, your mouths, and your hearts are in perfect agreement with your words. Baker once wrote, “Whatever comes out of the mouth originates in the heart (Mk. 7:21) and is therefore a barometer of the condition of the soul.” Our words must reflect the love of the Father shed abroad in our hearts.
Verbalizing truth in a manner that reflects the character of agape love is speech with grace in an atmosphere of pure love. When we allow those attributes of love to live out of us, we put into words the thoughts exhibiting agape love, and they become words of grace. These are words that are tender and compassionate, kind and obliging, mild and gentle.
Thoughts of grace in our words reflect the gracious attribute of God Himself. They are words of love that rejoice in the happiness, the honour, the comfort of others. We are in that constant disposition to speak of our desire to see good fortune come to others, preferably over ourselves even. Words of grace never act out of place or out of the character of love. Words of grace observes decorum and good manners. Words of grace rooted in love is never rude, or bullying – ever willing to extend love to all men for the sake of their benefit, their edification.
Edification is a building up of a person in the faith and love builds them up in the faith, and that love that is felt is exhibited in words of grace to them and about them. Words of grace proves the love you feel. There is that connection between agape love and speech with grace because if there is love, then he would not think of evil or wish for evil in his words to anyone. Love thinketh no evil. Love speaketh no evil. Words of grace avoids the trappings of thoughts that do not embody agape love.Like love, words of grace would not rejoice in iniquity but verbally rejoices in the truth. Words of grace would not only rejoice in the truth, but also praise the one who speaks that truth to encourage that person for believing the truth. Just as agape love hopeth all things, words of grace expresses hope for the best for everyone and also abounds ever confident in our one hope in Christ.
Notice what Paul says here. Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. Speaking truth in love isn’t simply about others growing up into Him in all things, but YOU learning to speak all truth in pure love, helps YOU to grow up into Him in all things. Developing the skill to speak truth in love helps YOUR growth more so than others. By learning the ways of speaking truth in love, you’re diving deep into the ways of Christ Himself, of perfecting and getting out of you the life of Christ that’s in you.
Speech Always with Grace
This brings us to Col 4:6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Your speech must alway be with Grace – it isn’t just that our conversations with one another take place within the framework of His grace wherein we all stand, but that they also reflect the very nature and character of His grace living out of you. You are through your words showing favor even to those who seemingly may not be deserving of it. You don’t love a brother based upon his behavior. You love that brother because of who he is in Christ. Speech with grace reflects everyone’s acceptance in Christ.
And notice he says alway. You never surrender your gracious speech. I loved how Ricky Kurth once wrote, “If you are always crabby and critical of the lost, then suddenly sweet when you witness for the Lord, unbelievers can see right through this. You must be gracious in everything you say; you must have a grace accent. Your colloquial accent can be heard in literally every word you speak, and tells people where you are from.”
And where are you from? Heaven. Your citizenship is in Heaven, already seated in heavenly places. Is this easy to do? No. Are we all experts yet? No. Will we ever feel like we’re experts? Doubtful. But you never surrender your gracious speech. You aspire every day to fulfill God’s will for you in how you speak to everyone you know, including unbelievers.
Salt, from its use in preserving food from corruption, makes our speech both savory and wholesome. Grace flavored with the preservative of truth and wisdom makes our conversations edible, makes us hungry for more, and keeps it from corrupting. Grace and truth in our speech demonstrates the influence of His grace upon our hearts and works His grace into the hearts of our hearers. But notice how the gracious speech is only seasoned with salt. Sprinkled with truth. If you put too much salt on a meal, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth, just like someone who is overbearing, overwhelming you with too much doctrine.
Then Paul says, “that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Notice that he doesn’t say you have to know what to answer every man. You’re supposed to know how to answer every man. This isn’t only about knowing the Bible rightly divided and all the sound doctrines of grace, but this is also the tone, the attitude, the love, in how you answer every man, speech alway with grace, seasoned with salt. As they say, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Ricky Kurth also wrote, “You may not be a grace pastor, but you can minister grace unto others if you let your speech be always with grace, ‘seasoned with salt.’” Pro 16:21 The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning. Pro 16:22 Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly. Pro 16:23 The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips. Pro 16:24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
Conversation Be as it Becometh the Gospel
This brings us to Php 1:27, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” How is the gospel presented? Are people won over by a gospel given in anger and bitterness? No. Love pleads with the unbeliever with gentleness, meekness, kindness. Speaking truth in love. It’s not just that our conversations wouldn’t turn others off from the gospel but it’s conversations that draws them to the gospel. A conversation that is a reflection of the character of the gospel itself: peace, love, grace. Bullinger would say this verse is to “exercise your citizenship” and I’d add to also exercise your identity.
Php 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Our identity is already heavenly, so our conversations should be heavenly in nature, too. What does that mean? We speak in tone and words that reflect the nature of God himself – love, grace, peace, truth.
1Ti 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
Timothy’s conversations had to be as edifying as the grace doctrines he taught, and I suspect that our conversation is a matter of put off and put on. In Col 3:8, one of the things we put off from our former lives is filthy communication out of our mouths. Paul would say in 1Co 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Bad company and bad conversations are likely to make bad men. Error and vice are infectious. And Paul would say in Eph_4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. We put off the filthy and unclean discourse poisonous to our souls, and we put on the words of grace seasoned with salt, because the intent of our speech is to minister grace unto the hearers. I don’t think this means that we constantly speak of the doctrines of grace, but that the nature of grace itself would operate in our hearts expressed in our word to grace itself would transform their hearts, to make them more amenable to the gospel or to continue serving Christ even more passionately. The use of speech is to edify those with whom we converse. Grace isn’t about teaching mid-Acts dispensationalism, although that’s part of it. Grace is the life you live. Grace is the way you think. Grace is the way you interact with others. Darby wrote, “If we carried Christ in every word, what a life we should live!”