Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. [Colossians 4:2-6 NKJV]
Several years ago my wife and I would go through the scriptures inductively, and in this particular day we were finishing up Colossians. Every so often as we read and study together the Lord presses upon my heart something I have never seen before. The Holy Spirit has a way of using our spouses to gain insight of a text probably because they know us so well. Today was one of those days as we read and explained things to each other, the pieces fit perfectly for a lesson that I personally needed to hear.
As the Apostle Paul gives states the application portion of this epistle, think about how we can apply these verses into our daily lives as we As we go through the verses above, think about how they fit into evangelism each and every day.
Continued Earnest Vigilance in Thankful Prayer
When it comes to evangelism, many of us talk about planning, preparation of sermons, and getting ready to talk to people about Christ. We read the books, plan the events, but some of us neglect the things that really matter…like prayer. The Reverend Billy Graham stated that if there is one thing he could do differently, he would spend more time in prayer. Not only more time, but quality time, earnestly and with the right heart and attitude, being thankful for what the Lord has done in YOUR life, and that he chose to save even a wretched sinner as yourself in the midst of your sin. When I open-air preached, I was always reminded of that. I tell others, “Gifts are meant to be shared, and I’m just sharing the gift that was given to me ten years ago.” This is how to be successful in prayer…preparing your heart, be alert in what you say, and doing it with the right attitude.
Pray for Open Doors to Preach the Word
More times than I like to admit I go through life not praying for God to open doors and windows of opportunity to preach His word. But if you think about it, it’s the divine appointments that seem to have the most impact in evangelism. God is the mover of all things, and His plans always come to pass. As you go through life, “Think Evangelism.” Think of every opportunity and every interaction as a moment to share the gospel. Maybe you haven’t shared the Lord with the lost in a while, and you feel dry. Pray to God that He would open those doors of opportunity and help you be the soul-winner He created in you.
Make it Clear. Make it Count.
The NASB says of verse 4, “that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.” Our prayers shouldn’t end with just opening the doors, but also asking God to help us walk through those doors and help to make our speech clear in a way that others who are outside the fellowship of Christ can understand. It’s not enough at the end of the day we say to God, ‘We shared the gospel with ten people today,’ when those ten people didn’t understand a thing you said. I need to pray to ask the Holy Spirit to make to make what I say understandable. Not so much that they understand with their heart but that they at least understand with their head. It’s the Holy Spirit’s goal is to change the heart, it’s my goal is to make it understandable.
One way is to teach unbelievers as if you are teaching children. Not talking down to them, but simplifying it. We shouldn’t use “Christianeese” and big words like presuppositionalism and propitiation which just adds to the confusion. We should take the Apostle Paul’s advice and just preach Christ and Him crucified. Not getting caught up in things that don’t really matter in the beginning. There is a place to talk about baptismal regeneration and the reasons why or why not to keep the Sabbath. In the beginning though…just adds to the uncertainty of the Christian faith for people who are on the outside.
How To Walk and How To Talk
In verses 5 and 6 we see how the apostle Paul responds to how we as believers and soul-winners should walk and talk. When I came to these verses something struck me right off the bat…the walking part of the Christian soul-winner comes before the talking part. It’s as if the walking aspect is more emphasized than the speaking part. Albert Barnes, author of Barnes Notes states in his commentary the reason why this may be.
“The reason why we need to walk in wisdom towards outsiders is the following:
- People of the world judge of religion, not from the profession, but from the life of its friends.
- They judge of religion, not from preaching, or from books, or from the conduct of its Founder and his apostles, but from what they see in the daily walk and conversation of the members of the church.
- They understand the nature of religion so well as to know when its friends are or are not consistent with their profession.
- They set a much higher value on honesty and integrity than they do on the doctrines and duties of religion; and if the professed friends of religion are destitute of the principles of truth and honesty, they think they have nothing of any value. They may be very devout on the Sabbath; very regular at prayer-meetings; very strict in the observance of rites and ceremonies – but all these are of little worth in the estimation of the world, unless attended with an upright life.
- No professing Christian can possibly do good to others who does not live an upright life. If you have cheated a man out of never so small a sum, it is vain that you talk to him about the salvation of his soul; if you have failed to pay him a debt when it was due, or to finish a piece of work when you promised it, or to tell him the exact truth in conversation, it is vain for you to endeavor to induce him to be a Christian. He will feel, if he does not say – and he might very properly say – that he wants no religion which will not make a man honest.
- No person will attempt to do much good to others whose own life is not upright. He will be sensible of the inconsistency, and will feel that he cannot do it with any sense of propriety; and the honor of religion, therefore, and the salvation of our fellow-men, demand that in all our intercourse with others, we should lead lives of the strictest integrity.”
Now this does not mean that us Christians are not to mess up. I mess up. I’ve failed all of these in some way or another. But this shouldn’t be the norm, and it shouldn’t be done knowingly. Repent, and turn around. Humble yourself, ask for forgiveness, and do it quickly. I do because I don’t want to be a reproach to Christ that someone curses my savior because of something I did or said. If they see in us that we can’t even follow what we preach, why should they. If we can’t follow it, why do they think that they can? Sometimes when I get the courage to ask tough, personal questions, I often ask, “What is stopping you from coming to Christ?” The answer I often get is because of how other Christians treated them, or because of televangelists wanting their money.
This week think of practical ways to apply this to your life, and do it. Pray that God would make you a better soul-winner and for Him to open doors of opportunity to share God’s word. Bless someone with the gift of the gospel, and show the kindness, love, and compassion Jesus has for others. Be a light in this dark world.
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