“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. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
There is an ‘infamous’ campus preacher by the name of Brother Jed who has been preaching on campuses all over America for many years. He is known for his judgmental and condemning statements as he preaches his version of the Gospel. One time he was heard shouting to a group of college co-eds as they walked by; “I don’t know how the whorehouses in this town stay open — all of you sorority girls are giving it away for free!” Wow! Are you as shocked as I was to hear someone who is supposedly preaching the ‘good news’ use a statement like that? Very sad indeed.
In Colossians 4, Paul gives some final instructions to the church, and he focuses his comments on how we, as regenerated believers, are to share the gospel message to those who so desperately need to hear it. I want to focus in on two very distinct instructions Paul gives us about how we are to communicate with unbelievers.
Paul states in verse 5, “Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; making the most of every opportunity.” Paul was a master at preaching to the Gentile believers who lived in a very corrupt and pagan culture. If you recall Paul’s presentation of the Gospel at Mars Hill (Acts 17), you will remember he wisely addressed the ‘unknown god’ they worshipped and used that god to reveal to them the true God. If we ask God, He will give us wisdom when we are presented with the opportunity to share the gospel with others. I recommend you make that request as a part of your Morning Prayer time. Ask Him to show you the opportunities to share the Gospel and the wisdom of how to share it. I can’t see our heavenly Father not answering that good request.
Speak with Words of Grace Seasoned with Salt
In the very next verse, Paul says, “Let your conversation be always full of Grace, seasoned with salt.” Notice he uses the term ‘Always’ and ‘Full’ when referring to the role of Grace in your conversations. I think this must be important! If it is so important that Paul describes it this way what does it mean to have your communication with unbelievers full of Grace? Much truth can be pulled from this statement but I will simply highlight a universal truth, and that is identified by Jesus Himself in Matthew 12. In verse 22 of Matthew 12, Jesus encounters and heals a man who was demon-possessed and was also both blind and mute. The seemingly ever-present Pharisees naturally tried to put a negative spin on this miracle by accusing Jesus of casting out the demon in the name of Beelzebul (basically, Satan himself). In verse 34 Jesus tells them that they are a brood of vipers and then says the oft-quoted statement, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” The lesson is simple and apparent to all. If you have truly experienced grace, then your heart and mind have been regenerated, and your speech should reflect that grace because it has been renewed (Hebrews 10:22).
Sharing the gospel with grace means we are leading with the love of God (John 3:16) and sharing with others the amazing freedom that comes from the freely given pardon that can never be earned, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to take the penalty of our sins from us to Him. People respond to love…not to hate and condemnation. That isn’t to say there isn’t a justice part of the Gospel and indeed we need to be convicted of our However, it is the Holy Spirit’s job to reveal sin to the lost and all the screaming and condemning some do, will not open up that door. It is our responsibility to demonstrate grace to them as we speak of the hope that lies within us.
Paul expands on speaking with grace by adding our graceful conversation should be seasoned with salt. Salt is both a seasoning and a preservative, but I think it is clear that Paul is using it from the perspective of bringing the Gospel message in an exciting and powerful way. One New Testament commentary states it this way:
“Evangelists know that an audience will never be attracted to new life by lifeless words, old cliches, and tired slogans! Paul’s wise exhortation is to bring humane graciousness together with carefully chosen words in our preaching ministry.”
IVP New Testament Commentary Series – Electronic Edition
There is nothing wrong with using persuasive speech by incorporating the use of various public and interpersonal communication principles to sustain the interest of those listening to you. Sometimes sharing your own testimony (1-minute witness) and other times using carefully selected metaphors or stories. Sometimes it is your excitement about ‘the change’ you have experienced coming through you sincerely. Our genuine and sincere sharing about our life experience can, therefore, be more persuasive.
I will end by quoting the entirety of verse 6. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Why should our conversation be full of grace and seasoned with salt? It is so that we may know how to answer EVERYONE! That should give us boldness and confidence to share the Gospel with everyone!
It reminds me of a man who set a wonderful example of this, our recently departed brother Kevin Cunningham. For those who didn’t know Kevin, he and his wife Christine were missionaries in Columbia, and that was not a place you went to share the gospel if you were not bold and confident in your faith. Tyler and I visited Kevin when he first went to the hospital, and we were blessed by hearing him tell us stories of how he went into some frightening situations in Columbia in order to share the gospel including dealing with the very dangerous drug cartels. Kevin was a fantastic example for all of us of how to be bold for the Gospel. May his legacy carry on with all of us at TCC as we pray for and act on the opportunities God gives us to share this amazing Gospel message of grace to a world that so desperately needs to hear it.