The Everyday Ministry of Passing the Salt

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Colossians 4:5–6

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

CONSIDER THIS

When I was a young teenager, I had the good fortune of discovering a treasure trove of a book on my parents’ bookshelf. I’m not exactly sure why I pulled it off the shelf and even less sure of why I read it, but of the fact that it changed my life I could not be more sure. The author of the book was Dale Carnegie, and you have already likely guessed the title, How to Win Friends and Influence People.

I remember a lot about the book, though one lesson stands out and towers above the rest. “Become genuinely interested in other people.”  It’s what I hear when I read today’s text:

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders. (v. 5a)

By “be wise” Paul doesn’t mean “be on your guard.” No, he means, let your guard down. He means, don’t be about yourself. Be about them. It begins with Carneige’s rule: “Become genuinely interested in other people.” Why? Beyond the first step of noticing people, becoming genuinely interested in them is the posture of love. It lets them know they are, in fact, interesting.

Make the most of every opportunity. (v. 5b)

What is the opportunity? I used to think the opportunity was to try and work in some way to share the gospel message with them, which in retrospect looks more like trying to get people enlisted on my multilevel marketing discipleship pyramid scheme.

I think of the sharing the gospel differently now. It’s more about the mystery than the messaging. As we have discussed, the message of the gospel is the mystery of Christ, and the mystery of Christ is Christ in us. To the extent I am attuned to “Christ in me,” I can be present to the person sitting across from me. To the extent I can be present to that person, Christ will presence himself with us and the mystery will become manifest. As I become genuinely interested in another person, Jesus manifests his interest in him or her.

The opportunities are everywhere. The overwhelming majority of people in the world, outsiders or not, are not listened to. No one leans into them and listens with genuine interest. This is what supernatural love looks like in ordinary clothes.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (v. 6)

I think of becoming genuinely interested in other people like salting a conversation. It brings out the flavor in them. It necessarily means becoming less interested in myself (a.k.a. less self-interested). What is it about salt that makes food so much more satisfying? Maybe we need to think more about passing the salt as it relates to what is on their plate and not so much about our own.

Let’s call Domino #4/6 The Salt-Shaker. It’s another small one with exponential impact potential, and it can be tipped almost anyway at any time.

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who is the salt of the earth and who would so fill us with himself that we might become the same. Fill me with the fullness of Christ in my bearing toward others that I might become genuinely interested in them and that my interest could become an act of your love. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. When is the last time you experienced another person becoming genuinely interested in you? It can be rare.
  2. When is the last time you were intentional about becoming genuinely interested in another person whom you didn’t know?
  3. Why is this so rare in the world? How will you change this today? Tomorrow?

P.S. I want you to come to the New Room Conference

O.K. Daily Text Nation. The data is in. Only 25% of you have been to The New Room Conference. 😭 That’s one in four. My friends. These are only my favorite three days of the entire year. And it’s a great chance for us to meet each other in person. Will you consider it this year? September 21-23 here in our hometown: Nashville, Tennessee. Rates go up on June 15. And if you can’t come to Tennessee, would you consider the LiveStream option? And those of you who have been, how about sharing a testimony over on our FaceBook Page today

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

3 COMMENTS

  1. J D, I believe that being salty in our conversations with strangers is easier for some of us than others because of our personalities. I’m not sure if it’s listed as a spiritual gift but some of us have the “gift of gab”, in other words we’re able to strike up a conversation with someone we’ve never met and find common ground to discuss. I believe that the common name for this is extrovert. We genuinely enjoy talking with folks. On the other hand, I know other people who can only handle so much extended conversation. I have no problem speaking with new people, my problem is knowing when to cut it off. That requires the gift of discernment. I pray daily for that gift and the gift of viewing people the way Christ sees them. We’re told in scripture that Christ saw that they were harassed and troubled and that He had compassion on them. That’s also what I pray for.

  2. “People don’t care what you have to say until they know you care,” I heard this quote from a Kairos weekend talk. It stuck with me. As a socialite, I’m not. Melancholy is my temperament title. So how do I show interest or that I care? I show up. I am committed to the jail and rehab ministry and the Discipleship Band group because it’s about them and not me. But because of God’s law of reaping and sowing, I also am blessed. Doing what I say I will do, Getting involved in another’s life in the name of Jesus should be every Christian’s care package. If nothing else but to listen. Give a hug of compassion. Sometimes not even speaking but always allowing them space to express themselves.

  3. Human beings are fascinating. I’m especially fascinated by humans who look, think, or act differently than me. Listening to people’s stories and trying to see life from their perspective teaches me so much. When a stranger opens up to me, I learn that though we’re different in our circumstances, culture, or color, we’re basically the same inside our heart and I feel a deep connection–what the Bible calls love.

    As a white college student, I sold “Ebony’s Pictorial History of Black America” door-to-door. Often strangers would begin to share with me their personal pain from racial discrimination. As I listened my heart would break for them, that people who were inwardly like me had been made to suffer because of their outward color.

    As a man who had never even once been drunk, or high on drugs, I was the counselor and chaplain in a Salvation Army alcohol and drug rehab center. I listened to more than 1,400 men tell their story of how addiction had devasted their life. Though I had walked a different path, their pain was the same as mine and we often prayed together as our hearts embraced.

    As a Bible school teacher for a time in India, working with young adults from a culture I knew nothing about, I was inspired by their passion to follow and obey Jesus in a nation where their fellow citizens saw Christianity as a foreign, intrusive, and unwelcome religion. Shortly after I left, one of my students was murdered for his faith. My heart deeply connected with those beautiful Christ-followers who were willing to be looked-down on for their beliefs yet continued to show kindness and compassion to all.

    As an older adult who knows nothing about cars, I’ve been part of a team leading a ministry to a diverse group of young adults fresh out of high school who are learning to be mechanics and are passionate about cars. Beyond the automotive talk and across the generations, I see their heart and we feel a deep heart-connection between us.

    Invited by The Salvation Army to start a “non-traditional church” in one of their church buildings in a poor neighborhood in the process of gentrifying, my wife and I started a sermon-free Sunday service where anyone present could share what God put on their heart. An amazingly diverse group of people began to gather and be led by God’s Spirit. As we weekly saw into each other’s heart, our diversity was covered by the beauty of Spirit-led heart-connection and salted with supernatural compassion, peace, and joy.

    J.D. Thank you for being salt and listening to my stories when we met last week. You were so gracious and embracing and I appreciate your genuine interest in my views and experience. You don’t just write the “Daily Text,” you live it.

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