“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”
“that you may know how you ought to answer each one”
God wants us to flavor our speech with grace and “salt.” He wants us to speak with savory words, not with something insipid. We answer one person one way and another person another way. We need the wisdom to discern how we approach each individual.
“Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
Lest you also be like him.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
Lest he be wise in his own eyes” (Prov. 26:4,5)
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).
Plutarch of Greece used grace and salt in the sense of charm and wit. This is light-years from Paul’s point here. Paul wants people to know how to win people with God’s grace and savor in communication. We need to know what is appropriate for each person. Paul himself was firm yet conciliatory at the same time in his speeches. He remained loyal to the truth. He did not compromise any principle, yet he spoke with grace.
To “answer” means that non-Christians have asked us something. They have studied our life or listened to our comments. They want to know what makes us different. At that point, we need the know-how to answer them (Isaiah 50:4; 1 Pet. 3:15). We need the wisdom to know how to press for a decision. When the timing is wrong, it is not good judgment to ask for a decision.
God wants Christians to give informed answers to the real questions people ask of us.
We cannot explain the gospel clearly if it is muddy in our mind (2 Tim. 2:15). God wants us to design and tailor our speech to the need of individuals, especially those without Christ.
God’s desire for us is to give His viewpoint in all our conversations. The point is not to gain ascendancy over others. Winning a debate rarely wins anyone to the Savior. It is essential to be relaxed and winsome yet faithful to the truth in presenting the gospel.
We know how much money we have in our checking account (or should!). We should also know how much credibility we have at the office, factory, school, or neighborhood. How much would you dare write a check on your testimony?
Sometimes we become so “discreet” that we do not “close” on our message. A better word for “discreet” is “scared!!”