Friday, February 10, 2012

Walking in Wisdom, Seasoned With Salt

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 4:5-6)
Paul concludes his instructions with a word on how believers should relate to people who do not know King Jesus or understand the faith. “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside.” It is a walk, a consistent pattern, a life of wisdom. Not the wisdom offered by the false teachers, the wisdom that is according to the principalities and powers and how the world has learned to operate under them, but spiritual wisdom — the wisdom that comes from God by the Holy Spirit at work in our spirits.

Ever since Paul heard of their faith, he has prayed for these believers to be filled with wisdom and understanding (Colossians 1:9). This is the wisdom that is able to bring every believer into maturity in our new life in Jesus the Messiah (Colossians 1:28). It is the wisdom that is found in Him, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3), the wisdom that abounds to us as we let the word that is from and about Him come and make its home in us.

We are to “redeem the time.” The word for “redeem” literally means to buy up from the marketplace. The word for “time” here is not chronos but kairos. It is not clock or calendar time but poignant time, a time that is ripe, an opportune time. This is not about time management but about preparedness. To redeem the time is to make the most of every opportunity. Thayer’s Greek Definitions offers this meaning: “to make wise and sacred use of every opportunity for doing good.” We do this by walking in the wisdom that comes from God. He will show us what to do or say, just as He showed Jesus (see previous section).

Our speech, our words, our communication, should always be gracious, “seasoned with salt.” Jesus said, “Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another” (Mark 9:50). If our words have no wisdom or grace, they will be tasteless and will not go down well, and they might be spit back at us. When they are seasoned with wise understanding and a gracious disposition, they convey the love of God in a way that might persuade the hearer and lead to their peace. In his letter to Timothy, Paul said, “a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses” (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

Walking in wisdom and speaking with grace, we will know how to effectively answer those with whom we engage. Peter put it this way, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). This is about making a defense, not being defensive. It is giving answer, a reason for the expectation we have in King Jesus. This readiness is not especially about studying rhetoric and engaging in debates, although those may be good things to study. It arises from knowing King Jesus the Messiah, who He is and why He came, understanding from the Scriptures what God is doing in the world, walking in the wisdom that comes from God.

Focus Questions
  1. What does “wisdom toward those who are outside” look like?
  2. Paul speaks of “redeeming the time,” or make the most of every opportunity. What sort of opportunities do you think he might have had in mind?
  3. What are some examples of speech that is “seasoned with salt”? What are some examples of speech that is not?

The Focus of Our Faith
The Focus of Our Faith
Paul’s Letters to the Jesus Believers at Colosse
Bite-Size Studies Through Colossians
by Jeff Doles

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