On The Roof
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6 NIV).
“Tact is one of the lost arts of the twentieth century. I heard about a man who lacked tact. He was the type of person who just couldn’t say anything graciously. He and his wife owned a poodle. They loved this dog. It was the object of their affection. The wife was to take a trip abroad, and she made it to New York on the first day. She called home and asked her husband, “How are things?”
He said, “The dog’s dead!” She was devastated. After collecting her thoughts, she asked, “Why do you do that? Why can’t you be more tactful?” He said, “Well, what do you want me to say? The dog died.”
She said, “Well, you can give it to me in stages. For example, you could have said, ‘The dog went out on the roof.’ And then when I travel to London the next day and call, you could tell me, ‘Honey, the dog fell and had to be taken to the vet. In fact, he’s in the hospital, not doing well.’ And finally, when I call you from Rome, ‘Honey, brace yourself. Our dog died.’ I could handle that.”
The husband paused and said, “Oh, I see.” Then she asked, “By the way, how’s Mother?” He said, “She’s on the roof.”
Paul reminds us in Colossians 4:6 that our speech/words are a powerful weapon in influencing others. I like the way the New Living Translation puts it “Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”
Salt had a unique place in the ancient world serving to preserve things, to help in the construction of roads and was used in the sacrificial system in offerings. It was such a valuable commodity it could be used to pay a person their wages. That is where we get the saying “He or she is not worth their salt.”
In our modern day and age, it is also valuable and fulfills several key functions. It also reminds us, as this writer states, of the parallels in our speech. “For centuries, salt has been used as seasoning to give flavour to foods and as a preservative to prevent meat from decaying. Over the years, it’s found many household uses from cleaning to de-icing to health and beauty. From the Morton Salt Company, household tips for using salt in everyday tasks include:
Stain Removal: use salt to clean stains from coffee pots and vases. Salt removes rust from household appliances and bicycles. Wellness: gargling with salt water alleviates mild sore throats. Soaking in warm salt water soothes tired feet after a long day.
Odour Elimination: salt can remove odours from hands, cutting boards, even garbage disposals.
Salt can do the same for our conversation, removing stains, promoting wellness, and eliminating odours. For our speech to be gracious and seasoned with salt, our words should express tolerance, thankfulness, and kindness.”
Our words not only having a cleansing and preserving function, but also should extend tolerance, mercy and encouragement as instruments of God’s grace. Romans 2:4 talks of God’s kindness, tolerance and patience towards us, should we do any less as His followers? To me, this is the language of love. As Paul says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with malice. Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:29-32). Proverbs 18:2 (NIV) states, “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.”
May our speech move “beyond the roof” as we speak graciously, with tolerance, thankfulness and kindness, to understand and empower others. May our speech have a way of preserving the best in others as we seek to live out Jesus. God bless you; have a great week
In His love,
- Pastor Ralph