Mystery, Opportunity, Conversation, and Grace By Scarlett Stough

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt….,” the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Colosse (Colossians 4:6). I would love to be obedient to this exhortation! But I find myself more often than not saying words that are by no means gracious and often served without the “salt.”

I want to be perfect in my speech. James wrote, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless (James 1:26.) Oops! It is so much easier just to not say anything, than it is to rein in that tongue! But James also gave us a little encouragement, saying that “no man can tame the tongue (James 3:8.)” How is that encouraging? It tells me that we are all struggling with the problem of taming the tongue. It also tells me that if I want someone else to give me a break when my tongue gives in to that “restless evil, full of poison,” I had better be willing to overlook or forgive that lapse in someone else’s tongue.

James warns those who teach that we will be held accountable and judged more strictly than those who do not (James 3:1-2). Some do have to teach; and everyone who is maturing in Christian living is expected to grow into the ability to teach something, even if by example rather than by words (Hebrews 5:12-14; Titus 2:3-5; I Peter 3:1-2).

Back to Colossians: The word translated “conversation” in the NIV is from the Greek word “logos” which means “an expression of thought” and has been translated with a variety of English words. It can refer to ordinary conversation, but is often used in the Bible to refer to God’s message, his “expression of thought,” and as a proper name referring to Jesus.

When we look closer at the context of this exhortation, it is tucked into a passage about preaching the Gospel:

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 (Colossians 4:2-6.)

I had always read that as a series of disconnected imperatives; but in the context, it is all connected to proclaiming the mystery of Christ. Certainly our everyday speech ought to be gracious no matter what the topic, but it should be even more so when we engage those who are not yet Christians in conversation. When an opportunity arises, we need to be prepared to give others the reason we have put our hope in Christ (I Peter 3:15-16).

How do we stay prepared? I don’t believe having “canned” answers, memorized with a string of scriptures, is the way to prepare. Conversations rarely go as planned.

I Peter gives us one clue: “But in your hearts set apart Jesus as Lord (I Peter 3:15.)” Our faith in Christ needs to be genuine. Our witness needs to be out of our own experience with his faithfulness.

Paul gives us another in Colossians: “Devote yourselves to prayer.” Being connected to God through prayer gives us that instant access to his help in being able to give a clear and confident answer.

Another clue is in the phrases “full of grace” and “seasoned with salt.” The answer needs to come out of a real concern for the person who has given an opportunity for that answer. Contempt for the person, an holier-than-thou attitude, or the Time of the End spiel will shut down that conversation quicker than it started.

Jesus told his disciples to not worry about what they would say when they were called upon to defend the faith in front of rulers and judges. He promised that the Holy Spirit would bring to mind at the moment what needed to be said (Luke 21:12-15.) He can do the same for us.

The more knowledge we have of the Scriptures, the more complete our understanding will be, and the more complete our explanation can be. But the newest of the new, can give an answer for their genuine hope. Having a love for God and a gratitude for his grace towards us is the biggest witness we can have to those who have not yet heard the message of the mystery of Christ.

When opportunity and grace meet in a conversation, another person may have an opportunity to have the mystery of Christ revealed and a life changed forever.

 

Volume 9 Issue 5 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation | Book Review

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