…as you pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may declare it clearly, as I should. Act wisely toward outsiders, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:3-6)

There is a gravitational pull in our own human hearts toward selfishness and our own concerns. Much of this is entirely understandable, for we know more about what troubles and concerns us than we do about others. And we are repeatedly enjoined in Scripture to take our requests to God.

But we must also break the habit of think ONLY about ourselves, and praying ONLY about our needs. It is the sign that someone has been with God, that God has been getting His way in someone’s heart, when that person thinks of others, especially when he thinks of strangers and those who are lost.

Pray for the one who serves among them

We are first commanded in this passage to pray for those who serve among the lost, especially among those we do not know, whether they be missionaries or normal workers. Any Christian who regularly rubs shoulders with the lost world we can lift up in prayer. Three specific concerns are mentioned here by Paul: (1) that God would open a door of ministry, (2) that he would have the courage to go through that door, and (3) that he would have divine wisdom in phrasing the message and the ministry properly.

These three things – open doors, courage, and wisdom – are so very much needed. In dealing with a lost world we are often stymied and ways seemed blocked to say or do anything at all. But God has a way of opening them, of turning hearts toward Him and toward people of faith. When we pray, God acts.

Actions speak loudly 

Among all people, but especially among the lost, our actions speak loudly. When we act wisely, graciously, and faithfully, God can use us. Our duty does not end only with our actions – the great commission did not say to merely act like Christians to the whole world, but to preach the gospel to the world. But our witness often begins with our actions.

A literal translation of verse five is: “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, redeeming the opportune moments.” The command requires an awareness of, an orientation to, and a sensitivity for the perspectives of those outside of the Christian faith. We cannot gain these thing without listening to them, taking time to read what they read, being informed about opinions, etc.

The word translated “time” is kairos in Greek. Two different words for “time” are found in the New Testament: chronos, which means the steady passing of time, and kairos, which means the seasons or opportune moments of life. So the Spirit is commanding us to look for those golden opportunities that He opens up for us to share something with those around us who do not know God.

And be gracious

The heated and angry rhetoric often found among Christians is a definite turn off for most of the world. Such talk might have its place from time to time, but only rarely. Most of the time, and by this I mean 99% of the time, graciousness is best approach.

But it is to be graciousness that is “seasoned with salt,” that is with the preserving influence in society of the gospel. Some Christians are so gracious in dealing with a lost world, that they may accidentally corrupt the gospel itself, or at least lose the gospel message.  I like this quotation from Ellicott’s Commentary on this passage:

Their speech is to be primarily “with grace,” kindled by the true life of Christian grace in it; secondarily, however, it is to have good sense and point, so as to be effective for the inquirer or against the scoffer.

Admittedly it is often difficult to strike a balance. Most of us will tend to lean to one side or the other in our basic personality. We will either be so gracious and nice that we might sound like we agree with the lost person’s perspective. Or we will be so direct and “preachy” that we might seem cocky, arrogant, and inconsiderate.

Hence the increasing need for God to open doors, and for us to gain sensitivity, wisdom, and courage.

Questions:

  1. How has God opened doors for you to share with lost people around you?
  2. Why does it take courage to go through these doors?
  3. Which way do you lean in this matter of sensitivity and sharing the gospel? Are you more gracious, or more prone to share the truth?
  4. Who is God putting on your heart to pray for today?
  5. What does it mean to pray for God to open a door for the sharing of the gospel?

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