A short while ago, I heard a news anchor say something that shocked me. In his effort to quiet the Christian community on abortion, he made the following statement, “Let me just say, as a Southern Baptist, I grew up reading the Bible, maybe a backslidden Baptist, but I still know the Bible. Jesus never once talked about abortion. Never once.” I did not use that quote to criticize the Southern Baptist organization but instead reveal the lack of insight, or what I would like to call, the wisdom of some who profess to have it. Wisdom! It has always been important for God’s people to seek wisdom. James writes, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives it liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Solomon says in Proverbs 2:6, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding…”. Again, he says in Proverbs 4:7, “Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.” The value of wisdom can also be seen in these words, “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!” (Proverbs 16:16). The worth of wisdom cannot be overstated. The simple truth is that if we want to navigate this world of ours with the desire to bring Him glory and honor, it becomes crucial to seek wisdom. As we look at Paul’s letter to the church in Colosse, we see that things have not changed.
“Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.” (Colossians 4:5)
Paul writes in chapter 1, “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God…” (1:9-10). How we walk is vital to the gospel and our mission to share it with others. John wrote, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (1st John 2:6). So, what is the Holy Spirit urging the church to do? What does it mean to “walk in wisdom”? One commentator writes, “Deal with them on the strictest principles of integrity so that they may not have occasion to reproach the religion which you profess.” The focus here is how they interacted with unbelievers. The ETRV says, “Be wise in the way you act with those who are not believers.” Paul echoed this same idea in Ephesians 5:15 when he says, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” The days were evil in Paul’s time, and they are still evil today. The effort to “walk in wisdom” has a purpose. That purpose is the “redeeming the time.” The word redeeming comes from a Greek word that means to buy up, i.e., ransom; figuratively, to rescue from loss. Wisdom will surely equip the believer against the external dangers around them, but that is not its only purpose. It should also help us to “make full use of external opportunities,” as one commentator puts it. Still, another writes of wisdom, “embracing and improving every opportunity of doing good, particularly of gaining souls to Christ.” Paul urged the Galatian church, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all…” (Galatians 6:10). So, to walk in wisdom, at least in this instance, is with the intent to influence others for Christ. Paul builds on this idea with the following.
“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt,
that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (Colossians 4:6)
Returning to the news anchor above and his foolish thoughts about abortion which he spoke on national TV. There was another news anchor I listened to who opposed the first one by calling him stupid. This caused me to think that one might be right, but in their rightness, they could be wrong because of a missed opportunity. Does that make sense? As God opens a door, our words can quickly and unwittingly close it. So, let your speech always be with grace. Grace here speaks to the idea of leaning towards to share benefits. One commentator explains it as “the kindly, winning pleasantness which makes the talk of a good and thoughtful man attractive.” Still, another writes, “Even the smallest leaf of the believer should be full of the sap of the Holy Spirit.” Paul builds this further with the words “seasoned with salt.” Jesus wants His followers to remember, “You are the salt of the earth…” (Matthew 5:13). It is true that how we use our words is important to the church (Ephesians 4:29), but they also matter to those lost around us. Words, like salt on various foods, can make a conversation wholesome and palatable. As one commentator writes, “Whatever be the topic, the spirit of piety should be diffused through it – as the salt in our food should properly season it all – whatever the article of food may be.” As much as it depends on us as believers, this is our approach to those around us.
The definition of civility is formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech. For the Christian, it is the byproduct of godly wisdom and a means, I believe, that God uses to open doors. You don’t have to compromise truth for this to happen; you only need to be wise in how you speak it to others. Thus, it makes sense that God would encourage these early Christian to “walk in wisdom.” Not merely to protect themselves from external threats, but equally important, to ready themselves to talk about Christ and the hope found only in Him (1st Peter 3:15). How? By seeking to speak with grace, we make our words attractive. So I leave you with this question, “How attractive is your speech?” Be blessed this day, and may we all commit ourselves to walk like Him.