The Power of Words for Our Children: The Metaphor of Salt
This past weekend, I had the privilege to speak to families on the subject of the power of our words for our children. In that workshop I focused on just a FEW of the verses in the Bible that address the power of the tongue and the importance of our speech. Now, if we were to do an exhaustive study on what God says about our words, we would have had to camp at that conference center for days!
Prov. 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
Those are some drastic extremes. For us, that means that we need to seriously consider how we use our words to engage and encourage our children. An unguarded rant made out of frustration can do lots of damage to little ears. And once it is spoken, you can’t unsay it, right?
Well, one of the points I discussed has to do with what Paul writes in Colossians 4:6. He says, “Let your speech be always gracious, seasoned with salt, that you can know how you should answer everyone.”
We are instructed here to make our words salty. Why does Paul use this metaphor?
Well, salt is an enhancer. When you are whipping up a batch of sweet cookies, you add some salt into the mix. Why? Salt isn’t sweet, yet it is necessary for a perfectly delicious cookie. Why would you add it to a sweet recipe, then?
One of my favorite sweet treats is a dark chocolate bar that has a “hint of sea salt.” Have you ever tasted one? You take a bite of the rich, creamy chocolate, and as you begin chewing, you suddenly experience a bit of the salt, causing the flavor in your mouth to explode with chocolatey deliciousness!
I’m sorry. I digress. (But I LOVE those things!)
Needless to say, salt enhances the flavor of whatever it is in.
Likewise, our words need to be seasoned with the saltiness of the Truth…gracious speech, as Paul says. You see, when we speak words of encouragement and words filled with graciousness, we build up our children. We fill their sails.
Just an intentional word letting your son know you are grateful for his willingness to share his toys with his brother…
…or your daughter’s joyful obedience…
...or your son’s persevering as he worked through a particularly challenging school assignment…
…each of these will fill up your kids. This kind of intentional encouragement sticks with them. Even with your teens. They may sigh, but in their hearts they are filled in a way that will remind them that you are FOR them. You see their value and importance, and you identified it specifically.
Explosion of deliciousness!
Salt is also a preserver. Before the days of refrigeration, people would keep meats and other foods longer by salting them. Salt dries out food by removing its water. And that makes it difficult for bacteria to grow. Thus the food lasts longer.
Words seasoned with salt last. They endure. They are not fluffy or empty. Do you want what you say to be a short sound bite for your kids, or do you want it to last and be held in their hearts? Our words need to be sprinkled with the truth and encouragement of the Word.
Finally, salt is healing.
Prov. 16:24 “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Salt particles have been shown to kill pathogenic microorganisms by dehydrating their cells. Salt has also been shown to reduce inflammation and remove mucus from airways so people can more easily breathe. This also can help with allergies and other respiratory illnesses. Natural salt in our diet provides important minerals like potassium and magnesium which help the nervous system and provide a healthy calcium balance in the body.
Words seasoned with salt heal. They encourage growth. They are filled with nutrients for our soul. When you speak edifying words to your children, they will be inspired to grow. They will be pushed on to accomplish greater things.
So I encourage all of us to be intentional with our words. We need to remember that our words are powerful and can build up our children so they will soar. By carefully crafting them, we can season our words to make them encouraging, enduring, and delicious!
I pray that we all will work to use our words so they are refreshing to the soul!