Salt and Iron would like to thank and recognize Lizzy Borcherding for submitting her work to our 1st Annual Essay Contest! Lizzy attends Grove City College. She explains her motivation for writing:
I write because it gives me an outlet to express the thoughts I would not share verbally otherwise.
Read her entry below:
A Lesson from Chili
My grandma once asked me to help her cook chili for dinner. Being the master chef that I am, I couldn’t refuse. With a loud plop, she poured two entire cans of Hormel chili into a large pot that already contained a half pound of cooked ground beef. She fiercely stirred the beans and beef, tested its taste, and then vehemently said, “Liz, you need to fix this.” Without hesitation, I walked to the spice rack, grabbed several small containers of spices, promptly put them back after realizing I had no idea what to do with them, and then added several pinches of salt. Problem solved. My grandma had left the room when I added the “spices”, but to this day I thoroughly have her convinced that I added a large concoction of spices to the chili, not simply salt. Though the chili would have been just as chili-like if I hadn’t added the salt, it would have tasted much different. Just like the chili with the added salt left me wanting seconds, speech that is seasoned with grace and love leaves listeners eager for more words.
Throughout all of Scripture lies the theme of the power of words. Let’s start at the beginning. In the beginning, God said… He spoke. He spoke and He created something entirely new. He created with words. After God created man, he charged man to name every living creature. It was through this assigning of words to different creatures and meanings that Adam discovered his solitude. It was through spoken lies that Adam and Eve were tempted in the garden and fell under that same temptation. It was through God’s words that fallen humanity found hope again through the prophecy of someone greater and purer than Adam who would come to save humanity and crush the head of the serpent.
John 1:1 highlights an incredible fact: Jesus is the Word. Jesus is the personification of God’s revelation in Genesis to fallen humanity. Jesus is our mediator. Through the Word, or Holy Scriptures, we learn about the good news of the Gospel. Also through Jesus, we can be saved from our sins if we believe in His death and resurrection and trust Him with our lives.
Proverbs, too, is laden with wise charges about our words. Our words can turn away wrath (15:1), can bring health to our entire bodies (16:24), can keep us from trouble (21:23), and can bring healing (12:18). Words are powerful. The way in which we wield our words can either bring death or life. Knowing how powerful our speech is, how are Christians supposed to know the proper way to speak with others, both Christian and non-Christian?
Paul gives us an idea when he says in Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” According to Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers, “salt” in Scripture is most commonly referred to for its preserving quality, and goes hand-in-hand with the idea of graciousness towards others. This means that when Paul commands Christians to have speech seasoned with salt, he is therefore commanding them to help preserve the world and each other from corruption. Mark 9:42-50 talks about the seriousness of “cutting off” anything that causes one to stumble and fall into sin. Mark then goes on and states, “Salt is good…Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” In this context, Mark is speaking of inward grace, which alone is what makes the Church “the salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13).
Salt also is used for purification. It is important to note that just like the cleansing from salt comes from without and not from within, so the cleansing of our souls comes from an external source: Christ’s righteousness. It is only after we have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus that we can begin to speak with life-preserving words that are full of grace. Although it is possible to change outward habits, it is impossible for any human being to change the state of their own heart (Rom. 5:12). That is why it is essential for Christians to constantly seek grace and guidance from the Lord when trying to season their words with salt.
As commanded by Jesus himself in Matthew 5:13-16, all those who bear Christ’s name are to season their words with salt in order to be the “salt of the earth.” Being the salt of the earth requires a sense of duty towards preserving the world from the corruption that is constantly knocking at the door and, also, towards the purification of oneself and other believers. Seasoning one’s words with salt is not passive activity. Rather, it takes serious discipline and prayer to attain and maintain “saltiness” (see Mk 9:50). So, Christian, season your words with grace as you season chili with salt, but rely on Christ to do so. Remain steadfast as you pursue the preservation of the Church and God’s creation and as you purify yourself and your brothers and sisters in Christ.