Are We Acting Wisely Toward Outsiders?

Grace For The Journey

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5MarIf you know Christ personally, I am sure you are like me, you desire to share Christ’s love and life with others who do not know Him.  The Bible says in Colossians 4:5, “Walk (conduct yourselves) in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming (making the most of) the time.”  This verse has always caused me to seriously examine how effective I am in fulfilling my assignment from the Lord to share Him as I go about my daily life (Matthew 19:20).

I pray that today’s blog will be a source of instruction and inspiration to lead you to examine whether your “conduct” with non-Christians is wise or unwise.  The grammar in this verse dictates that the answer to this question determines whether I am maximizing each God-given opportunity that I have with unbelievers.

Even though Paul clearly teaches the Colossians to speak the “mystery of Christ” among those who do not know Jesus (Colossians 1:5, 25; 3:16, 17; 4:3, 6), his command for them to “walk in wisdom toward those who are outside” seems to demand more.  It is interesting and instructive to note that Paul is not led by the Holy Spirit to use the word “speaking.”  This, of course, would only involve verbal discourse.  God leads Paul to use the word “walk” which is a word that incorporates all aspects of human behavior.  Taking note of how Paul uses this word in other places in his letter to the Colossians will help us get a clearer definition of what he is implying with this command.

Paul uses the Greek root for “walk” three other times in this letter:

(1) In Colossians 1:9-10, Paul prays that the Colossian believe may be “filled with the knowledge of His [God’s] will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” … so that [they] “may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him …”

(2) In Colossians 2:6, Paul writes that just as the Colossians have, “received Christ Jesus the Lord, so [they should] walk in Him.”

3) In Colossians 3:7, after listing several evidences of the flesh, “immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed,” (3:5) Paul reminds the Colossians that “in which you yourselves once walked when you lived I them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these . . .”

When we look at how Paul uses the word “walk,” we can see . . .

That his concern for their effectiveness

In witnessing to unbelievers

Encompasses both their verbal

And non-verbal behavior.

Paul expects the Colossian believer’s words and deeds to match the divine standard for Christian witness – to lift Jesus up and to draw all men to Him (John 3:14; 12:32).  That is why he directs us in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” and in Colossians 3:23, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”

It is not surprising that Paul then further qualifies his command with the phrase “in wisdom.”  Literally, the verse says, “In wisdom, conduct yourselves.”  By phrasing it this way, Paul is emphasizing the substantial role that wisdom plays in the believers’ spoken and unspoken “conduct” with those outside the church.

As he writes his letter, he talks about how “the knowledge of the mystery of God” is fully realized as we receive and live by the truths of God (Colossians 2:2-3).  That is why he says in Colossians 2:6, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus, the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established I the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7)

The Word of God is very specific about how you as a Christian are to conduct yourself toward the non-Christian.  

Before we go any further, we need to focus on something very important . . .

The cross of Christ.

It is because of the cross

And our redemption found there

That we are able to seek to be wise

And good towards unbelievers.

The sacrifice of Christ has cleansed us from our sins, given us forgiveness of our trespasses, and enabled us to be gracious and kind by changing us.  While we lived in rebellion and rejection of God’s rule over us, He was gracious and kind to us.  Because of what God did through Jesus we have the power and ability to be kind to others.

Literally, the Greek says to “walk in wisdom toward outsiders.”  To the Jew every non-Jew was an outsider.  To the Christian, every non-Christian is an outsider; that is, outside the family of God . . . Outside of a relationship with the Lord Jesus.  In the days of the early church believers were often slandered by these outsiders.  Christians were called atheists because they served no visible god, unpatriotic because they did not burn incense before the image of the emperor, and immoral because, of necessity, they would often meet behind locked doors.

Today there is still an attack on the church.  Christians are called bigots because they condemn homosexuality, intolerant because they oppose abortion, religious extremists because they condemn sin, and narrow-minded because they believe there is “one faith, one Lord, and one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5).  Yet, in spite of these attacks we are to remain humble, loving, caring, kind, and gentle toward them.  If we are not, if we do not show love and forbearance in the face of cruelty, insult, intolerance, and ridicule, then we are not showing the world that we know Jesus?

God wants our conduct to be with wisdom.

This conduct is our  the life that we life.

How may we walk more wisely?

1) We are to be sympathetic (this could be in counseling, listening, etc.) compassionate and humble – 1 Peter 3:8 – “To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit.”

2) We are to be loving – 1 Peter 3:9 – “Don’t repay evil for evil, or insult with insult, but with blessing repay the evil cast at you”

3) We are to be patient – you are to be considerate and longsuffering with the unbeliever.

4) We are to be careful in how we live – Ephesians 5:15-17 – “Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

5) We are to be careful in how we talk – Colossians 4:6, “Let you speech always be with grace; seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought ot answer each one.”

Paul is asking the Colossians to be careful with their tongues.

  • Careful when they speak in public and private, no gossip.
  • Careful when they speak to an equal or someone in power, no slander.
  • Careful when they speak to the poor and the rich, no favoritism.
  • Careful not only when speaking of the gospel but also when speaking of the weather, the economy, politicians, the authorities.

In all our conversations God wants us to be careful, gracious, kind in your speech.  Grace is getting whatever you do not deserve.  And note the word “always.”  In all situations at all times – playing a sport, watching a movie, driving, shopping, business, in church, out of church, at work . . . The Bible says in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that I may impart grace to the hearers.”

6) God also wants us to know how to answer everyone – Verse 6, “That you may know how you ought to answer each one.”  In 1 Peter 3:15, the Bible says “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who ask you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”

Part of having answers means being wise.

Proverbs, as well as the rest of the Bible, is the only source of true wisdom.  With wisdom, you will be able to properly answer in times of counseling and heartache, joy and sorrow, and in times when morality is an issue.

Part of having answers means knowing doctrine.

The Bible is an excellent teachers of doctrine.  We are to know the doctrine of the Trinity, the deity of Christ and of the Holy Spirit, the gospel message, the resurrection, the return of Christ, and the rest of what the Bible teaches.

Part of having answers means studying difficult issues.

Study evolution, cults, and other religions.  You don’t have to master them, just be familiar with them.

We will walk wisely when we give ourselves to the following  . . .

  1. Learn to fear God – Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”

  2. Spend more time in the Bible – Psalms 119:130, “The entrance of Your words give light; it gives understanding unto the simple.” The purpose of the book of proverbs is, “To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity.” (Proverbs 1:3)
  3. Make walking in wisdom a priority – Proverbs 4:7, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Study the 119 verses in Proverbs on wisdom.
  4. Ask God for wisdom – James 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraids not; and it shall be given him.”

  5. Follow the advice of 1Thessaloians 5:21-22 and prove all things before we make a decision. 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
  6. And don’t forget, in your wisdom and grace toward those who are outside the faith, pray for them.
  • They need to be granted the faith that God gives – John 6:28ff.
  • They need to be granted the repentance that God gives – 2 Timothy 2:25.
  • They need to be granted the belief that God gives – Philippians 1:20.
  • You can make a difference in your prayers – James 5:16.

So . . .  what difference do these verses make in your life?  It should be plenty.  Your conduct and speech before an unbeliever is vitally important.  Your conduct should be with wisdom, your speech with grace.

I heard about a Christian who years ago worked with an unbeliever.  For two years, this Christian answered the unbeliever’s questions; he was gentle and kind in his conduct in all situations and always tried to point his friend to Christ.  He sought to be wise and gracious.  Today that unbeliever has become a pastor.  The Lord used that Christian, his wise conduct, his gracious speech, to help bring another into His kingdom.  To Jesus be the glory, Amen!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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