“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:6).
My friend Chet Griffin passed this on to me some time ago. My notes do not indicate whether this was his personal story.
When I was a kid, my mom liked to make breakfast for dinner every now and then. I remember one night in particular when she had had a long hard day at work, then did the breakfast thing for us. Dad and I were seated at the table when she brought in plates of scrambled eggs, sausage patties, and some extremely burnt biscuits.
This was so unlike my mom.
I sat there waiting to see if Dad noticed or would say anything. Yet, all he did was to reach for his biscuits, smile at my mom, and ask how my day went at school. I don’t recall what I told him, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that biscuit and eat every bite!
Later, I heard Mom apologize to Dad for burning the biscuits. I’ll never forget what he said.
“Honey, I love burned biscuits.”
“That night when I went in to kiss Daddy good night, I asked him if he really liked his biscuits burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, “Your mama put in a hard day at work today and she’s real tired.”
“Besides,” he said, “a little burnt biscuit never hurt anyone.”
God give us the grace to speak words of kindness to those we love but who, for any of a thousand reasons, may have done a thing poorly today.
The grace to speak with patience and understanding is more treasured than flowers and candy. It’s also more expensive and harder to come by, if my experience is any indication.
To extend kindness to one who is tired and doing the best he/she can and finding it not enough is not asking a lot.
It’s just not our first impulse. Not natural to the human animal who wants what he wants and wants it right now.
It is, however, the Christlike thing to do.
A touch of grace. A portion of mercy. A little slack. Appreciation when your first instinct is to criticize and demand more and better and prompter.
Life is full of moments when responding with shortness only adds unbearable pain and stress to someone we love who is doing their best.
The Apostle Paul was writing to a church filled with members who had issues with one another. Some were taking their brothers to court and demanding their rights. Some were threatening to splinter the membership and start competing churches. Some were proud of their spiritual superiority and a few were indulging in flagrant sin and bragging about it. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians is God’s message to these carnal believers, and is well worth studying repeatedly today.
Take the teaching in I Corinthians chapter 6. It is unique in all of Scripture.
Paul rebukes those who were taking fellow church members to court over something or the other (he doesn’t say what). He sounds a wakeup call and is not gentle about it.
Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? and that we shall judge the angels?
Stop and ponder that for a while! Truly thought-provoking. (Don’t we wish we knew more about that?)
And yet, here you are acting like lost people. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.
Then, as the defendants squirm–we hope–Paul asks two questions:
First: Is there not one wise man among you who can decide between his brethren? It may not look like it to us, but that is a rebuke. After all, they are in Corinth, Greece, the historic center of wisdom. In the first three chapters of this epistle, Paul speaks of so-called wisdom again and again. Would that they had some of it there, he said with a note of sarcasm.
Second: Rather than have lawsuits against one another which represents defeat for everyone involved, particularly for the cause of Christ, why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? (I Corinthians 6:1ff.)
Why not enjoy a burned biscuit occasionally rather than make a federal case out of something a brother or sister did poorly?
Why not absorb the hurt when someone offends you? Why not cover the cost when someone takes what is yours?
Why do you always insist on your rights, on getting what is coming to you?
Why not rather be wronged?
That’s asking a lot, isn’t it?
It’s asking us to be mature, to act like grownups.
What a refreshing thought that would be.
“Oh, Lord, help us to season our conversation with grace. To speak with kindness to those who disappoint us. To show the love and gentleness of Christ at those times when our flesh wants to react with sarcasm and selfishness. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.”