“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 (pleasant, kindly) and salt (not insipid). We answer one person one way and another person another way,
“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).
We need the wisdom to discern the difference.
“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 grace and savor. 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.
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 wants us to give his viewpoint in all our conversations. The point is not to gain the ascendancy with others. Winning a debate rarely wins anyone to the Savior. It is important to be relaxed and winsome yet faithful to the truth in presenting the gospel.
To “answer” means that they 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 to know when to use the “soft-sell” or when to use the “hard-sell,” that is when to press for a decision. It is not good judgment to press for a decision when the timing is not right.
We know how much money we have in our checking account (or should!). We should know how much credibility we have at the office, factor, 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!!”