“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6).
"Seasoned with salt" meant “witty” in Classical Greek usage and suggests language that is pithy, interesting and well chosen. British theologian, G. B. Caird, commenting on this verse, suggests that every person we address should be "treated as an end in himself and not subjected to a stock harangue."
Case in point: I have a friend—his name was Matt—who was invited to a dinner party in which he discovered that he had been set up, brought in to witness to a man who loved to bait Christians.
Throughout the evening the man harangued Matt mercilessly about the evils of Christendom, citing the Crusades, pogroms against the Jews, Apartheid, colonialism, the Ku Klux Klan, the Inquisition, the Aryan Nation and churchmen throughout history burning one another at the stake to the glory of God.
In each case Matt rolled with the punch and calmly replied, ”That’s an interesting point of view. Tell me what do you do in your spare time?“ Or he interjected some other query, showing genuine interest in the man and deflecting the discussion away from the dividing issue. (Sadly, under attack, like Peter defending his Lord, we sometimes go straight for the jugular.)
As the two men were walking out the door at the end of the evening the man fired one last salvo, at which point Matt put his arm around the other man’s shoulders, chuckled and said, ”My friend, all night long, you’ve been trying to talk to me about God. Are you some kind of religious nut?“ The man’s animosity dissolved into laughter.
Jesus was remarkably oblique in his witness, using indirection, plying his listeners with metaphors, analogies and whimsical comments that surprised them, subverted their minds and went straight to their hearts. His practice bears imitation.