Perspicacious, ubiquitous, calamitous, cacophonous, irascible. I know what all of those words mean and can use them correctly in a sentence. I also am not commonly heard saying, “Hey, Y’all, watch this!” nor do I eat livermush, listen to country music (except for “He Stopped Lovin’ Her Today”, but you have to be a communist to dislike that) or ever touch alcohol. Our home is lovely and clean.
I need to make sure you understand all of that before I say what comes next, lest you mistake me for someone worthy of a Jeff Foxworthy routine.
My wife bought me a “Bug Assault” salt gun at the beginning of the summer, and I had more fun with it than a congressman with a big donor list. Whoever invented this jewel must surely have lived in the south, where the summertime brings flies indoors of everything from singlewides to mansions.
Living in the country, the flies, are large, arrogant, and smart enough to land on places where they know you would not swat them, such as a popcorn ceiling.
Enter the Bug Assault gun. With this salt-slinging power house, you can dispatch a fly without so much as leaving the slightest trace of a mess. It is strong enough to bring a tiny yelp from a 20 year old boy with sasquatch-hairy legs (Sorry, son. Sort of.) but is only truly dangerous to flies, mosquitos, and with multiple shots, spiders.
Despite years of eggs, cole slaw, green beans, and tomatoes, I am now enjoying salt more than ever. Within two weeks of being so armed, the entire colony of flies was gone, and we have not seen any others for months. It is almost as if the word has gotten out, “bzz bzzzzz buuuuzz,” which is flyese for “Let’s go back to Ethel’s place; she is still using an old plastic swatter and is so slow on the swing you could time her with a sundial.”
The real beauty of this contraption is, as I have alluded to, the fact that it does the job without causing collateral damage. If it were just a matter of killing flies, I did not really need the salt shooter; I have a 12 gauge shotgun that would have done the job very effectively. But at what cost to the ceiling, roof, windows…
Paul the apostle said something about salt that ties in quite nicely with that truth.
Colossians 4:6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
If I could have the liberty to paraphrase that, “When you are speaking, don’t use a shotgun when a salt shooter will do, and don’t swing a sledgehammer when a paint brush will work.” Our words, for good or bad, are very powerful. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
In the faraway days of my youth I experienced the power and noise and hurt of words, and often over the smallest things. So when I became a father I determined to speak only as loudly as absolutely necessary and to speak only words that would achieve the desired effect but would never cause injury to a young heart. I knew there would be some “insects” to destroy in the lives of my children, but I made up my mind not to rip their hearts out along with it.
I have, far too often, heard husbands and wives speak to each other in words so harsh that I knew they would likely never get over them. I have witnessed parents screaming at their children, and children cursing broken-hearted parents. I have seen Christians rip each other to shreds with their words. Paul’s command to “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt” sits on the sidelines waiting to be sent in, while rage and volume take the field and do their awful, destructive work.
Hurtful words said cannot be unsaid. A scream cannot be unscreamed. This is why no single word ever spoken should be any harsher than it needs to be, any louder than it needs to be, any angrier than it needs to be. We sometimes need to speak negative words, and from time to time even loudly, Scripture makes that clear. But we never need to shoot a fly with a shotgun.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Feature photo by Bo Wagner)