“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Colossians 4:5-6
How should we, as Christians, conduct ourselves in our dealings with those outside Christ’s church in this world? This the Apostle Paul answers in the closing words of his instruction to the believers at the church in Colosse: “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
We, as believers ought to live our lives wisely in regard to those outside Christ’s church, redeeming the time and making use of every opportunity God gives to make known to them the truth revealed to us by God in His Word.
We may not realize it, but how we live and conduct our business here in this world can either make one want to know more of our faith or make one want nothing to do with it. Sometimes an uncharitable word is all it takes to close the door to further witness. Thus, how important it is to be charitable and honest in all our dealings with those not only inside but also outside the church!
We ought to buy back the time commonly given to evil or frivolity and make use of every moment God gives us to share the good news of God’s mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus.
Our speech should be “always with grace,” reflecting the grace of God toward us in Christ Jesus. When we remember how much the Lord has forgiven us and to what lengths He went to bring about our salvation — even going to the cross and suffering and dying for our sins — should it be any trouble for us to speak kindly even to our enemies and to those who have mistreated us?
Being “seasoned with salt” means our conversations with those outside the church should neither be continual preaching against them nor only kind words devoid of any rebuke of the law and comfort of the Gospel. The Christian must wisely and consistently share the truth at every opportunity but use care not to drive away the unbeliever by too much preaching. We must not try to coerce people into the kingdom of God but, rather, share with them the truth and let the Holy Spirit convince hearts. Our role involves interspersing God’s truth in our conversations so as to raise awareness of the truth and draw interest in it, making it possible to continue to share the admonitions of the law and the good news of forgiveness and life through faith in Christ Jesus.
The way in which we converse with those outside Christ’s church may be different with each person, making it so important that our speech be always with grace and properly seasoned with salt so that we, in the right way, give an answer to every person. For this, we most certainly need the wisdom and direction of God’s Spirit in our daily lives and conversations.
But what if we have been less than honest and charitable in our dealings with those outside the church? What if, instead of being motivated by God’s grace toward us, we have dealt with someone from the selfishness and wickedness of our old sinful nature? What can we do?
There is no better way than to honestly admit our sins and misdeeds to the Lord Jesus and to those — even outside of Christ’s church — whom we have offended.
We know from God’s Word that God graciously forgives us for the sake of Christ’s blood, shed for us upon the cross, when we repent and look to Him in faith. And, when we admit our sins and failures and forgive the sins and failures of others, what better witness to our belief in the true righteousness of God and in our total dependence upon His grace and mercy toward us for Jesus’ sake!
We do not proclaim ourselves righteous and holy and the world sinful. We share and proclaim that we all have sinned and come short of God’s righteousness but that with God there is mercy and forgiveness for Jesus’ sake — imputed righteousness through faith in Christ (cf. Rom. 3:23ff.)! The Gospel we share is the good news that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom we are chief (cf. 1 Tim. 1:15-16). And, if God shows mercy to me when I look to Jesus in faith, He can and will show mercy to you as well when you repent of your sins and trust in Christ Jesus, your Savior!
O Holy Spirit, grant me wisdom in my dealings with those who do not yet know and trust in Christ Jesus, that my speech may reflect Your grace and that I might wisely use the time and opportunities given me to share the good news of God’s mercy toward sinners for Jesus’ sake. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
[Devotion by Randy Moll. Scripture quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]