With the subject of evangelism on my mind, I came to a place in the book of Colossians that spoke loudly to me, and I wonder if it will you as well. As chapter 3 closes out, Paul, with the Holy Spirit guiding him, talks about things like the Christian home (husbands, wives, and children vv18-21), Christian slaves (v22), and as chapter 4 begins, masters (4:1). Then, there is this appeal, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving….” Therein is a lesson in and of itself. Prayer that seeks out God and realizes the blessings of which they have is mighty indeed. These are efforts put forth by the redeemed, those who have and are putting off that old person and putting on the new (Colossians 3:1-11). These seem to be more about us and not so much about them; that is, until the next verse.
“Walk-in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.”
These words may sound familiar, for Paul says something similar in Ephesians 5:15. In both cases, the appeal encourages awareness and purposeful action. Here, the church in Colosse is to be intentional in their conduct with those outside the church. The ETRV says, “Be wise in the way you act with those who are not believers.” Why? We may get some insight into this from Paul’s exhortation to Titus to show “yourself to be a pattern of good works” so that no “one who is an opponent maybe be ashamed, having nothing evil to say to you” (Titus 2:8). Our behavior in the workplace, in our neighborhoods, and in our homes speaks volumes to those around us. As one person writes, “Deal with them on the strictest principles of integrity, so that they may not have occasion to reproach the religion which you profess.” We do this to redeem the time; that is, we see these as opportunities to influence the world around us for the cause of Christ. With that in mind, Paul refers to one of our greatest assets, our words.
“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt….”
Once again, the simplicity of the ETRV, “When you talk, you should always be kind and wise.” Another translation uses the word “pleasant” in place of grace. I am reminded of his messages to the church in Ephesus, that the intent of their words would be for “necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29). One person describes it as words that are “kindly, winning pleasantness which makes the talk of a good and thoughtful man attractive.” The use of salt adds further depth to the speech of the Christian, towards those outside of God’s grace, for it is “the savor of fresh and lively spiritual wisdom and earnestness,” void of the often-corrupt words of our broken world.
We offer to them something different, and we do so in part through our speech. You see, it is through our actions, especially our conversation, that people today will recognize that there is something different about us. It may cause someone to inquire why we are different from the world they so readily see each day. It is then that God, working through us, may open a door as we are asked the question from those outside, “Why?” It is then that we can begin to share with them “the hope that is in” us “with meekness and fear” (1st Peter 3:15). Help us, Lord, to be ever vigilant in our endeavor to draw others to You.