27 February, 2016 40 days of change-Lent, 2016
Outspoken –Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:16
Sometimes we think it is better to keep silent and let everyone think you are a genius, rather than saying something and proving that you are not. With that thought in mind, we slide into a self-conscious silence. That thinking is working in the opposite direction of the desired change of being bold. There use to be a chap seen on television at major sporting events in North America holding a sign up with John 3:16 printed on it. He would wear brightly coloured clothes and stand in the right place for the camera to catch him at the opportune moment. He was silent and bold, and he was exceptionally unique. To be bold, most of us will need to use words. We are called by the verse cited above to use gracious, salty words as we give answers.
Jesus was outspoken, but rarely do I think he shouted. So often we think outspoken is the same as loud. He was not afraid to wade into debate with the Pharisees, Sadducees and his own disciples, but I sense it was always reasoned and at an appropriate volume. Even when he accuses the religious leaders of rotting and stinking on the inside, but being clean and orderly on the outside, I don’t sense he needed to raise his voice. The sting of the words were enough. His words were not only used to confront, but were used to comfort and to guide, a mixture of salt and grace. His candid claims of being the bread, the living water, the door, the way, the truth and the life were often spoken with gentle directness giving hope and help. We would say that Jesus called a spade a spade, digging in and turning the proverbial soil with purpose, but never banging people over the head unnecessarily. He had the grace and salt mix just right. A mixture attributable to his steadfast commitment to only say what the Father asked him to say.
Do you believe in being the strong silent type? Well don’t! At least not when it comes to things of God. Leaving the communication of truth to people’s interpretation of our lifestyle and body language seems to be leaving too much to chance. Our voices need to be heard, and as the parent of a two year old so often says ‘use your words.’ Words like God, love, give, thanks, sorry, free, life, are all words that most of us learned to pronounce a long time ago, but we need to learn ways to say them to others daily. Salting our conversation with the grace and truth of Jesus may be as simple as exchanging something negative for something positive. God is found in encouraging and life-giving words. Today, watch for an opportunity to say something that encourages or gives life; I am sure the opportunity will come. If you are uncertain what to say, then pause and let God give you a word or two. Then say it! The words will change his or her life, and yours.