Mike Gerhardt, 05-05-19 Be Wise Part 2, Speaking to people about God. Read Colossians 4:2-6. Let’s review the last time we were here, and we looked speaking to God about people in prayer being faithful, watchful, thankful and specific. I do hope you have been praying that way or at least have started to practice some of these ways. Today we will look being a witness for our Lord. The word mystery in verse 3 and elsewhere in the New Testament does not mean something we cannot understand but something that was hidden but now is revealed. Christ the Son of God, the Messiah was hidden with God from everlasting, the prophecies were there in the scriptures but now Jesus has been revealed! Paul knew how important it was to share this message. He knew the importance of speaking to people about Jesus, God’s son who redeemed us by his blood. Paul gives us three pieces of advice regarding our witness. We tell our story of transformation in at least two ways:
By language (verse 5): Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Paul’s desire, his ambition, his goal and his purpose in life was to proclaim this gospel clearly. In fact, that was the very reason he was in prison. The book of Acts chapters 21-22 tells us it was Paul’s concern to share this great news with Gentiles and his ministry among Gentiles that put him in prison. When John Bunyan was arrested for preaching illegally and put into prison; he was told that he would be released if he promised to stop preaching. He replied: If I am out of prison today, I will preach the Gospel again tomorrow by the help of God.
The apostle Paul had that same burning conviction. He could have played it safe and just preach to a Jewish audience who may have accepted the message in some circles. But Paul knew his orders were from God and he was to proclaim the gospel to the Jew first and to the Gentile nations in the entire world. The message was not for a select few, but to everyone! Now you might think to be in prison would hinder Paul from sharing the gospel. Paul was assigned according to the experts, four Roman soldiers who would change shift every few hours to guard him. Paul had a captive audience to hear his message. Some of these soldiers were converted as were some of those who came to visit him during his time of incarceration even some in Caesar’s household! Philippians 1:12-14 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. 4:22 All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household. Through Paul’s witness in prison, the Gospel was carried into parts of Rome that would have been inaccessible to Paul had he been a free man!
Back to verse 4. Paul was aware that the proclamation of the Gospel is more effective when supported by prayer.
In the 1800s, five college students were spending a Sunday in London, to hear the famed Charles Spurgeon preach. While waiting for the doors to open, they were greeted by a man who asked: Would you like to see the heating plant of this church? They were not particularly interested, for it was a hot day in July but they consented. They were taken down a stairway, a door was opened, and the guide whispered: This is our heating plant. Surprised, the students saw 700 people bowed in prayer, seeking a blessing on the service that was soon to begin in the auditorium above. Closing the door, Charles Spurgeon introduced himself.
Paul knew the importance that prayer made to the proclamation and so he requested the assistance of the Colossians in his ministry. Pray for the message. You can make a difference! By life (verse 5-6): Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Mark 4:11 He told them, the secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside, everything is said in parables. Jesus made a distinction between His disciples, those on the inside and the crowd, those who were outside the family of God. Don't act like those outside are less intelligent or more corrupt than we are. And don't expect those outside to know what you know or act like an insider. Paul also made this same distinction in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. A good question to ask yourself is: Are you an insider? Those of us who are born again, who have been converted, who name Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior are those whom Paul refers to as the spiritual insiders because we now belong to God's family and God has given us his Holy Spirit and the gift of eternal life. Christians should NOT have a sanctified superiority complex. In fact, we should feel the very opposite. Every Christian should be humble in the great responsibility to witness to those on the outside and to seek to bring them into God's family. Notice the phrase making the most of every opportunity. This phrase is a commercial term and means to buy up. It's the picture of finding something on sale that is so cheap that you buy as much as you can because you know it will not be this cheap again!
Likewise, we're to buy up every opportunity to speak for Christ when we see one. Paul tells us in these verses two insights that will help us buy up the opportunities:
(1). Walk wisely (verse 5). Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders. Literally: Walk in wisdom toward them that are without. The word walk in the New Testament refers to the way we live. Paul reminds us that non-Christians are not stupid. They watch how we live, and act and they take notice. Sometimes they are very critical.
(2). Talk wisely (verse 6). Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Season your words with salt is a great expression. In the ancient world, the phrase could mean using some form of wit or humor to get your wise point across. Jerusalem Bible renders this Talk to them agreeably, and with a flavor of wit, and try to fit your answers to the needs of each one. We often are answering questions that no one is asking. We need to listen and give adequate answers. Our example is Jesus, who was the perfect embodiment of both truth and grace, wit and wisdom.
Use truth and grace, wit and wisdom, whenever you share your faith journey.
Paul wanted our speech to be appetizing. Salt enhances flavor. Use wit, and astute discussion, and thoughtful words when telling your story, the opposite of being boring. When we talk about our faith journey, does it represent the transformation we have in Christ? Remember salty speech makes people thirsty for the truth. We should be talking about Jesus in such a way that they want to hear more! God wants to show the truth about His love through our conversations and through our lives with those on the outside. Our aim as Christians is not to win arguments but to communicate and demonstrate Jesus Christ. Someone said: You can have a hot head and win an argument, or you can have a warm heart and win a soul! The Christian's walk and talk must be in harmony with each other. Nothing will silence the message like a careless life. But when the character, conduct, and conversation are all working together, it makes for a powerful witness.