About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Chapter 4:2 - 6
Instruction (ch. 4:2-6)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.