On Speaking Salty Words
Last month, 75-year-old Marion Shurtleff walked into a newly opened used bookstore and bought a very old and used Bible. It was a different version from the one she usually reads, and she thought it would be nice to be able to compare how the wording has changed. She found much more in that Bible than she expected. Inside her brand new old Bible was a folded up sheet of yellowed paper. When she unfolded it, the first thing she noticed was her own name. The paper was an essay on “Be Kind to Animals” that she had written as a young girl to earn a Girl Scout merit badge. The essay had been written more than 60 years before and 2000 miles away in her hometown of Covington, KY. She has no idea how it got there, but she is now busy playing Colombo trying to retrace the travels of her long forgotten essay.
This unusual story of coincidence reminds us of the fact that we don’t live isolated lives. We impact others. The things that we say and actions that we take today can have an influence on the people around us., and that influence can last far beyond today. Like Marion Shurtleff, we may find those words and acts impacted us in the future. Paul says,
5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:5-6)
The problem is we never know which of our words will be the ones to have a lasting impact on someone. Hey, if you knew which one of your essays would turn up 60 years down the road, then you could give special attention to make sure that was a good one. And if you knew which one of your words or actions will be the one that will have a lasting impact on the people around you, then you could give special care to make sure that the word or action really counted.
That's the problem. We don't know which words or which action will be the one that someone will remember and be impact by. These words may be the careful, prayerful invitation you make to a neighbor to visit church with you; they also might be the kind words you speak on the fly to a cashier who was just treated rudely by the customer in front of you. Your words that last just might be the Sunday School lesson that you teach after hours of preparation; but they also might be something you say off the cuff that encourages someone in the middle of a particularly bad day. We don't know which of our essays will turn up down the road… so make them all count. Make the most of each and every opportunity to speak words that are seasoned with salt.