Read Colossians 4
As Paul wraps up his letter, he wraps up his letter.
He has some more with which to teach and challenge this body of believers, but he spends most of the chapter updating people on who is where and helping whom and who needs to finish the work that they began. He even told people where to send this letter when they were finished with it and with whom they should trade letters.
There are Hebrews and Gentiles in the mix of this conversation. Paul even notes that he wrote this personal part in his own hand. Scholars have debated whether Paul had arthritis or bad eyesight, but something afflicted him.
There is always the possibility that like your pastor, he just had bad penmanship. Paul thought it important to note that he actually penned part of this note.
But he still had some teaching to do.
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
What did Paul tell us?
Prayer is not just something that we do. We are devoted in our prayers. I will pray for you is not a polite substitute for that stinks. I wish you didn’t have that problem.
Prayer is part of our life. It’s not a weekend getaway. It’s the moment-to-moment breathing essential to our existence sort of devotion that we need to continue in this life. We are devoted to prayer as an essential part of our lives.
In military awards, the citation for the award often includes the words for his or her exceptional devotion to duty. Those are some words coined to say that somebody poured everything they had into whatever it was they were being recognized for doing.
They gave it all that they had. In the course of the Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln noted that those who were being honored in the graves around them gave the last full measure of devotion. They gave their very lives.
We are to be devoted to prayer. We are to pour ourselves into prayer.
Paul then noted that he wants some of that church’s prayers for himself and his ministry. He wanted doors to open for the good news and he wanted to make sure that he didn’t wimp out.
Paul lived in a tough world, sometimes a mean world. He had been stoned, imprisoned, run out of town more than once, shipwrecked, snakebit, and was in the custody of the Romans, the master of the crucifixion.
Times were tough and Paul wanted opportunities to preach the gospel and the strength not to give in when continuing on his mission might mean torture or death or both.
Paul directed these believers and he directs us to be wise. This should sound familiar. It’s almost the same thing that he told the Ephesians.
· Be wise.
· Make the most of every opportunity.
· The days—this age—is full of evil.
Paul noted to this group to be especially attentive to outsiders. They may be seeking the good news and just don’t know it yet. They may be out to do you in. Be wise. Use your sound mind.
Have you seen the meme that says:
Courage is knowing that it might hurt but doing it anyway. Stupidity is the same. And that’s why life is hard.
Here is one of my favorite phrases from the apostle Paul.
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt
Grace should govern all that we do and be a part of all that we say. Our very lives are lived in response to God’s grace. We talk a lot about how to respond to grace—love, obedience, encouragement, peace, hope, faith, and so many other threads of response weave themselves throughout our lives.
Some see their spiritual gifts manifest in our responses to grace. For others, it’s just love, love, and more love. For some, it’s obedience. Some respond as peacemakers.
In the body of Christ, we will find so many responses to God’s grace that bring fulness to our lives and glory to God.
But this is not Paul’s first rodeo. He has lived and lived to the full. He has been stoned and left for dead. He knows that not everyone you talk with has your best interests in mind. Think about his words again.
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt
What does seasoned with salt mean?
In the Marine Corps, if you had a young man who had been in for a while, but didn’t have much rank to show for it, you might call him salty.
It’s not that he had not been promoted. He had. He was promoted and promoted again and then busted and then promoted then busted.
This was the guy that knew to go to sick call just in case there was real work to be done that day. He never went to sick call on a Friday. That could mess up his weekend, but when he saw three big trucks show up with empty sandbags, that might be a good day to see if he had a cold or the Swine flu or Rheumatoid arthritis or the plague.
Salty meant that you knew your way around the ways of the world. Salty meant that you were aware of what was going on around you. You were always on the lookout.
Paul wasn’t telling believers to adopt those ways, but you might want to be aware of them. You needed to see how the world worked.
We are not to be naïve. We do not become skilled in the manipulative ways of the world, but we have eyes to see what’s going on around us.
We are just a little bit salty.
Wouldn’t you know it. I rushed through the grocery store and didn’t check expiration dates like I usually do and ended up buying a container of salt that expires in December 2022.
Imagine, stuff that’s been around since the creation of the earth going bad at the end of this year. Salt can’t really lose its saltiness. It would be worthless.
Jesus commanded us to be the salt of the earth. We are the real seasoning of the planet. Those who seek God and his kingdom and his righteousness are where life’s real flavor comes from.
Mercy and grace gave us life in right standing with God. Our entire lives are to be lived in response to this grace, but we should be just a little salty.
We should see the ways of the world at work. We don’t adopt them but we must know them when we see them. We must be aware of them as we converse and interact with others.
A long time ago, I attended the Karrass Negotiating seminar. A few weeks later, I hired them to train 20 of my people who worked Marine Corps contracts.
They taught about 20 different negotiating techniques that were mostly manipulative. They also taught win-win negotiating.
They only endorsed win-win, but cautioned that you had better be on the lookout for the others. Practice that which works best for both or all parties, but be on the lookout for those who would take advantage of you if you let them.
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt.
Let’s take the love of God to the world but let’s be on the lookout for those who might think us naïve because love is our currency.
Let’s take love to the world and let’s be seasoned with salt.
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