Have you noticed that the New Testament speaks of Christian worship in terms of old covenant offerings? For instance, the author of Hebrews says, “Through [Jesus] let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Heb. 13:15). When the church sings hymns of praise to God or draws near to him in prayer, we are “standing at the altar,” so to speak.
But did you know that even our everyday conversation is to be an altar offering? Moses writes, “You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt” (Lev. 2:13). In his letter to the Colossians, Paul draws on this priestly instruction when he says, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:6).
Paul isn’t suggesting that chitchat about the weather, politics, ball games, or holiday plans is worship. The act of worship is purposeful and conscious. In worship, we are acutely aware of our entering into the presence of God.
But Paul is saying that my everyday conversation must please God – like an offering presented at the altar with salt. Speech that pleases the Lord is “gracious.” Grace-salted talk is honest, deliberate, sensible, kind, courteous, wholesome, encouraging, and hopeful. It is therefore free of lies, mockery, insults, threats, sarcasm, rudeness, vulgarity, coarseness, and profanity.
Solomon says a lovely thing about gracious speech: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Prov. 25:11). Does our everyday speech honor the Lord? Or is the salt missing?