In our world, we are inundated with a host of options as to what will consume our time. We face this decision countless times per day, if for no other reason than the sheer volume of nuanced options. We would be greatly helped by applying an athlete’s mindset to our spiritual life. Athletes often say goodbye to luxuries, hobbies, opportunities, and many distractions, all in order to achieve excellence in the one or two events in which they will compete. So much is stripped off to obtain a prize. Likewise, Paul exhorts us, “Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24).
However, we are not as quick to think of the things an athlete adds in order to achieve that one goal. Many things are stripped away, but they are replaced with a new and specific diet, sleeping rhythm, training schedule, and even study of other athletes. If this is true for earthly things that are passing away, it is even more true for eternal life. In Colossians 4, Paul is speaking to those who have stripped off false wisdom and deception but now need to begin adding. Three commands he gives will sharpen our daily walk with God, if we apply them to our lives.
“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” (4:2). There are layers of potential adding available to us here. Perhaps you pray, but a habit of “devoted” prayer is not yet a reality in your life. Or, maybe you are in fact devoted to the Lord in regular times of prayer, but He wants to expand your “alertness.” God wants us to be alert to the promptings of the Holy Spirit; He may convict us of sin, remind us of needs, or lead us into praise. Then we add “thanksgiving.” Making petition after petition to the Lord is easy, but then we must thank Him for all He has done and will do! Gratitude is a protective shield for us against adopting a demanding spirit.
“Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of every opportunity” (4:5). Here we find tremendous need for wisdom, in our dealings with lost people. We should be “making the most of every opportunity” to show them Christ. This is challenging. Some are gruff, others mock Jesus, some seem disinterested, and still more are not in the frame of mind to listen to a gospel presentation.
God wants us to see beyond the physical things and the current state of souls, to catch a view of His potential grace and salvation over their lives. Jesus tells a parable of a landowner who, even at five a clock in the afternoon, found people “standing around…idle all day long” (Matthew 20:6). “No one hired us,” they argued, so the landowner said, “You go into the vineyard too” (20:7). They went. I believe that is how the Lord sees people in this final hour of history. They may even be up to no good, but in most cases, no one has given them a good reason to follow Jesus Christ. They still need to hear the Spirit’s invitation that pierces to the depths of their soul.
That is why the Spirit gives us the next command. “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:6). From divine appointments to interactions with a cashier, we seek to speak with the kindness of Christ and offer whatever words the Holy Spirit gives us. Daily, we can ask for the Lord to give us grace with our tongue. Daily we can ask Him to season our speech with salt, so that He is glorified. We need the wisdom of the Holy Spirit on how to respond to each person. Let’s ask Him for it today.
The Rock Church