5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to respond to each person.
Paul is arguably one of the greatest speakers of all time. He made it a point to be all things to all people. He sought opportunities through cultural and religious contexts to make clear the gospel of Christ. Whether relating to his fellow Jews or making known the unknown God to the polytheists in Athens, Paul always found a way to turn a conversation to the truth of Christ.
We are called to walk in wisdom, speaking words that are from the Holy Spirit rather than our own minds. Instead of wasting time mindlessly absorbing the culture we should use our downtime wisely – meditating and studying Scripture, praying for the unsaved, and seeking opportunities to engage those outside the faith. “Time” is also translated “opportunity” in other translations, and “making the best use of time” can be literally translated “buying up every opportunity”. Realize that every virtual or “real-time” conversation is a possible opportunity to speak Truth into the lives of others.
Rather than being argumentative with those of opposing views, we should be gracious. (This is especially apropos in America today as our nation awaits the results of an almost equally divided presidential election.) Always listen to others with the intent of understanding their viewpoint rather than constantly “turning your wheels” to think of a great counterpoint. When you are in tune with the Spirit, you will know how you ought to respond to each person.
Why would Paul write that our speech should be seasoned with salt? When something is properly seasoned with salt, it does not taste salty. Rather it somehow tastes more like the thing it is. Properly salted eggs somehow taste more like eggs. Properly salted meat somehow tastes more like meat. Salt is also a preservative, keeping things from spoiling. Properly salted conversation will be gracious, interesting, wholesome, and more like the speech of Jesus Himself.
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16