As a young adult, I taught a five-year-olds' Bible class. One Sunday's lesson was "God's Word is a recipe book for our lives, and following God's recipe keeps us going in the right direction." I illustrated the lesson by making play-dough, using a simple recipe that included one optional ingredient...cream of tartar. Not knowing what cream of tartar was, or did; I opted to leave it out.
Unfortunately, I did not test the recipe first. As eager eyes watched, I dumped flour, water, salt, oil, and food coloring into the bowl. Much to my surprise, the unusable, messy mixture lacked cohesion! I discovered cream of tartar was a necessary stabilizing ingredient.
The following week, repeated the process. With cream of tartar in hand, I explained that when you leave out part of God's ingredients, life gets messed up, just like useless play-dough.
Colossians 4: 6 gives us a three-ingredient speech recipe: "Your speech should always be pleasant and interesting, and you should know how to give the right answer to everyone." (Good News Translation.) Pleasant, interesting, and right are all necessary ingredients.
The first essential ingredient, "pleasant", translates "grace" in the King James Version, and means "gracious", "kind", "sweet". Every day drop generous amounts of pleasant, sweet words into your conversation bowl.
The next significant ingredient, "interesting", translates "seasoned with salt" in the KJV. Salt is used as a preservative, and adds flavor to food. Add flavor with life-preserving words that build up and encourage others, rather than tear down.
The third vital ingredient is "right". Speak words that are right, proper, and true according to the Word of God. Words of truth instruct and give wisdom. Right words yield hope, strength, and comfort (Psalm 119).
The psalmist David wrote, "I will be careful about what I do and will not let my tongue make me sin..." (Psalm 39:1). Begin each day by giving the Lord control of your tongue. Then combine the necessary ingredients to your conversation- words that are gracious, words that build up, and words that are true.
Cream of tartar is a necessary play-dough ingredient. God has given us a recipe for our speech. Making substitutions or omitting one of the pleasant, interesting, and right ingredients will not produce beneficial conversation.
Our Father God in Heaven, daily may we surrender our tongues to You. Please remind us to speak words that encourage and build up others. Use us to speak words that are kind, true, and give hope to those who are weary and discouraged. In the sweet Name of Jesus, the hope of the world...amen.