When speaking to God about yourself or others;
- Ask for open doors. It’s amazing to me that while Paul is under house arrest he doesn’t ask for prayers for his release, or for better food, or anything else like that. He simply wants an open door for the gospel message. In Scripture, a door is an opportunity, or ability. In 1 Corinthians 16:9, Paul says, “a great door for effective work has opened to me.” In 2 Corinthians 2:12, he writes, “I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me.” Jesus opens and shuts doors for us as we seek Him in prayer.
- Ask for clarity. Once God opens a door, it’s essential that we have the ability to proclaim the mystery of Christ with clarity. The goal of evangelism is to make the cloudy clear. As we’ve learned in Colossians, the mystery is that Christ has died for the sins of the whole world, and that when we receive Him by faith, He comes to take up residence in our life as Colossians 1:27 states: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”… It’s the mystery of transformation power!
As we study verses 5-6, we’ll gain some insight into how to speak to others about God. This is where prayer dovetails with evangelism as we discover that our ability to impact people is directly related to the intensity of our intercession in prayer. Verse 5 focuses on how we walk. In verse 6 the emphasis is on how we talk. We must balance our life and our lips.
Let’s look first at verse 5: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.”
1. Be wise. To be wise in the way we walk means that we’re careful not to say or do anything that would make it difficult to share the gospel. Often this simply means that we need to remember that those who don’t yet know Christ are watching us. When we pray, God will give us open doors. Let’s not shut them by our behavior.
2. Make the most of opportunities. Are you making the most of the opportunities you have every day? Try to accomplish as much spiritual good as you can in all your relationships.
3. Be gracious. Verse 6 challenges us to guard what comes out of our mouths. Our wise walk should lead to wise words: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” It’s important that we communicate with words of grace when we speak with those who don’t know Christ. Unfortunately, many times believers go off on people who are living in sin. Or, we let loose about a moral issue in our culture, forgetting that there may be someone listening who is caught in that particular sin. When we’re filled with anger and rage people feel judgment, not hope.
4. Be appetizing. Our conversations need to be seasoned with salt. Salt enhances flavor and makes food appetizing “Salty speech” in Paul’s day referred to witty and clever discussion. It was the opposite of being boring or monotone. When we talk about our faith how can we be interesting? In our Growth Group right now we’ve been working on giving our testimonies. One of the common themes in almost all of them is a funny story or interesting comment that peaks the interest of the hearer. Salty speech makes people thirsty for more. We should be talking about Christ in a way that makes someone’s mouth water!
5. Be ready. When we choose to mix it up with people who don’t yet know Christ we need to be ready to give them an answer when they ask us some questions. Another way to say it is that when we are gracious and appetizing, people will want an explanation. This is a natural process that will happen when people see Christ in us. Peter put it this way in 1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Your reason ought to be because of the things God has done in YOUR life, not to beat people with the Bible or to point out their sin.
The key here is to always be “prepared”. We cannot be prepared unless we have prayed, studied His Word, listened and applied these things to our own life and have a real relationship with Him ourselves. There is no way we can convince others unless we ourselves are convinced by our own experiences with the living God.