Grace and Love

Seasoned with Salt

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. -Colossians 4:6

Have you ever said something that you immediately regretted? I mean, the instant the words cross your lips you wish you could hit pause, grab them from the air, and pretend they never existed? I believe we all have had instances like this, where we say or do something caught up in the moment that we later regret.

When moments like this occur, we are reacting to a situation. Psychology Today refers to a reaction as being instant, driven by the beliefs, biases, and prejudices of the unconscious mind. A reaction is, “based in the moment and doesn’t take into consideration long term effects of what you do or say.” Although many reactions turn out just fine, just as many produce feelings of shame or regret.

On the other hand, a response typically comes more slowly. When we respond to a situation, we take the time to gather information from both the conscious and unconscious mind. Responses take into consideration the thoughts and feelings of others, weighing the long-term effects and staying in line with your core values.

That same article from Psychology Today says that,” the more reacting we do, the less empowered we are.” From my experience, that statement seems to ring true. When we are fearful, unsure of ourselves, disempowered, or threatened, we tend to react. When we are confident, secure in our worth, and seeking God in all that we say or do, we tend to respond.

Both a reaction and a response can look exactly alike, however the process for each one is quite different. The most important difference? God calls us, as His image-bearers, to respond to situations with truth and love.

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly. -Proverbs 15:1-2

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man o f understanding. -Proverbs 17:27

The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. -Proverbs 15:28

In order to properly respond to others, it is imperative that our hearts be right with God.  Without His Spirit leading us, it is impossible for us to approach anyone with a spirit of truth or love the way He would desire us to.

If you’re struggling with reacting instead of responding, I encourage you to take some time with God. Ask Him to show you any areas of hurt, fear, or disempowerment that might be influencing a reaction instead of a response. Ask him to soften your heart toward others and to give you compassion and wisdom.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. -Psalm 51:17

As you work on this area of your life, start making yourself comfortable with the idea of taking time to respond. Sometimes, breaking the pattern of reacting within a relationship could help put an end to a cycle of crazy that has become the norm. In most instances, it is acceptable and appropriate to respond in such a way that actually gives you time to formulate a response. Simply communicate to the person that you would like to think about the situation and that you will get back to them.

Not only is responding a God-honoring way to communicate with others, but it also gains more respect. When we choose our words carefully, others are more apt to listen. Because our words are few, they hold more power. Because our words are carefully weighed, they hold more value. And when our words are bathed in God’s truth and love, they are the most valuable of all.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear. -Proverbs 25:11-12

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. -Titus 2:7-8

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good or building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. -Ephesians 4:29

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