About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Chapter 4:2 - 6

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Further Instruction (ch. 4:2-6)


Paul continues to give further instruction to his readers.  In verse 2 Paul tells his readers to devote themselves to prayer, and, in the midst of this prayer they are to be watchful and thankful.  Christians are to be as much as possible in a spirit of prayer.  You might say that one can't always be praying.  Well, you cannot always be on your knees in prayer.  That is certainly true, but, you can always be in a spirit of prayer.  You can learn how to think to God.  Remember, prayer is simply talking to God.  It makes all the sense in the world then that you can think your thoughts to God.  That is prayer.  


The word "devote" means to give yourself to.  We are not only to pray once and a while, we are to be given to a life of prayer. 


The word "watchful" in relation to prayer reminds me of Jesus telling us to "watch and pray" (Matthew 26:41, Mark 14:38, Luke 21:36).  Part of our prayer life is in response to what we see, in what we watch around us, both in the world and in our personal world.  Prayer is more than a matter of praying for yourself.  It's praying about all of the things we see around us.  Then, whatever we see, whether good or bad, our prayers should always be laced with thanksgiving to our Lord.


In verse 3 Paul told the Colossians to pray for him and his co-workers.  Notice what he wanted them to pray for.  He didnít ask for more money.  He didnít ask for more of anything.  He asked for doors to be open so he could preach the good news of Jesus.  The gospel of Jesus was the driving force in Paulís life.  He wanted to preach this gospel to anyone who would listen to him.  In our western world consumer driven church most of our prayers are for things we want from God, and, there is a place for that, but look at what Paul says here.  His first prayer request was for doors to be open so he could share Jesus.


To be specific, the aspect of sharing the gospel he speaks of here is the "mystery of Christ" which we've talked early.  The mystery that was somewhat hid, especially to the rebellious Jews in Old Testament times, was the truth that Christ will live in and among the believers, both individually and collectively.     


Paul says here that he was in chains, in prison, because he was preaching the gospel.  This clearly tells us that this letter was written while he was in prison.  Those of us in the western world know little to nothing about being in prison for one's association with Jesus.  In other parts of the world, like in China and in many Islamic nations, people know all about being in prison for the sake of Jesus.  


In verse 4 Paul asks for prayer so that he can preach the gospel with clarity.  This is very important.  If people canít understand what you are saying, why say it.  We must preach in a way that people can hear and understand what we preach.  This is not always the case.  We use Christian terminology that no one in the world understands.  Of course, we need to know what to preach and teach ourselves.  In our Biblically illiterate church, many just don't know the Bible and what it says sufficiently enough to teach what we are to teach. 


In verse 5 Paul tells the Colossians "to be wise in the way they act towards outsiders and to make the most of every opportunity."  Being wise in our behaviour is important.  If we are to be criticized by non-Christians, then let us be criticized for the gospel that we preach, not for any bad behaviour or lack of wisdom that we might demonstrate.  We bring shame and criticism to the Lord when we do not live what we preach.  This is a major problem the church seems to always have. 


In my early days of being a Christian I'm sure I did some things in the service of the Lord without much wisdom.  Now that I'm older, hopefully all I do in the service of the Lord is mixed with a great amount of wisdom. 


Making the most of every opportunity is important as well.  So often we let opportunity slip by us.  Sometimes we think that we need to make opportunities to demonstrate or to preach the gospel.  Maybe at times we do need to make an opportunity but many times there are opportunities in front of our very eyes that we ignore.


In verse 6 Paul says, "Let your conversation be full of grace and seasoned with salt."  In some cases the word conversation means lifestyle, but not here.  It literally means conversation; the words we speak. 


Our words need to be laced with grace.  The simple fact is that harsh words, negative words, critical words, can be destructive and hurt what our words are meant to do, and that is lead people to Jesus.  Be graceful in the way you speak to others and they will be willing to hear you out.  I know that at times a prophetic negative word must be spoken, but that is not the norm, and, we need to know that such prophetic words are what the Lord wants us to speak.   


What does it mean to be seasoned with salt?  Maybe we will never know exactly what Paul was thinking here until we can ask him in person in Heaven, but I have an idea.  Salt makes one thirsty.  If our conversation can produce a thirst for the gospel in others, then we have seasoned what we have said with salt.  We have said something that has left a desire for a person to think more of the good news.  On the other hand salt is a preservative.  It causes food not to rot.  So, Paul might have meant that our speech must be spoken in such a way that our message is preserved in the hearts and minds of those who hear us.  Of course, the Holy Spirit's involvement must be involved in our speech at this point.  Still, on another hand, salt provides flavour when you are baking.  I cook oatmeal almost every day and when I forget to put salt in the oatmeal, it tastes pretty bland.  This too might be what Paul had in mind when he spoke of salt.  I'm not sure what of the three above Paul had in mind, but I suggest that all three have their place in our conversation. 


The last phrase of this verse is "So that you may know how to answer everyone."  These words might actually give us a third way in which Paul used his analogy of salt in the last verse.  Paul expects Christians to be able to answer questions when asked of them.  Does this mean we have all the answers?  Well, life tells us that we don't have all the answers but for those answers we don't have, we should at least attempt to find the answers.  We should never think they are unanswerable. 


Grace and salt might well then have something to do with us being prepared to answer questions.  Both are foundational.  Both pave the way to have a meaningful conversation with the one to whom you are speaking.  If you live a life of grace; if you speak in such a way that people want to listen; you will be prepared, and will have prepared yourself, for whatever comes your way.  This includes any questions or comments one might have.    


The simple fact is that we must be prepared.  We must have an understanding of Biblical truth.  We must be able to speak this truth in such a way people will hear it.  The sad fact, at least from my side of the fence, is that the majority of Evangelical Christians are not so prepared.    

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