Redeem the time for the sake of the lost – Colossians 4:5-6

In Colossians 4:5-6, Paul tells us to “Conduct ourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.” Literally, “Walk with wisdom toward outsiders, redeeming the time.” Wisdom toward those apart from Christ entails many things, but it certainly means that we need to have our antenna up, the way that smartphones and laptops detect WiFi hotspots – that is, we need to be scanning to see where people stand with Christ and His church, realizing that every time we are in proximity to an unbeliever (whether unchurched or churched!), there is possibly an opportunity for gospel conversation. It could be in the checkout line at the grocery store, your waitress at a restaurant, the person next to you on an airplane, the people at the next table in a coffee shop, your roommate if you’re in college, the people in your classes or study groups, your neighbor on a Saturday afternoon, the person next to you in the pew, etc. To be sure, some people are like password protected wireless networks – they’re closed to the gospel, and it may be that talking with them would be casting your pearls before swine, as Jesus puts it in Matthew 7. But perhaps the next time you see that person, he’s like an unsecured, open wireless network, and there’s a door open for the word. Paul doesn’t give a lengthy set of directions here, because he knows that every situation, every person, is different – that’s why he says that we need to walk with wisdom.

Do you have your antenna turned on to be listening and looking for opportunities? Do you see that God has providentially put you where you are at that moment, and that He wants to use you to build His kingdom? Wherever you go, whomever you meet, be thinking, “What is this person’s relationship to Christ? What is this person’s relationship to the church?”

Now, when Paul says that we are to walk with wisdom toward outsiders, that tells us something about the character of our antennas, the character of our wisdom. If unbelievers are outsiders – outside the faith, outside the church, outside Christ – then we who believe are inside. The temptation is to turn that fact into an occasion for pride and ingrownness, for looking down on those who are outside, for acting like the church is the ultimate social club or secret society that people have to jump through all sorts of hoops to join and fit in. But we who are on the inside know that that is absolutely not the case – that Jesus has jumped through all the hoops for us, that none of us fit in, that we’re all outcasts and messed up, not one of us deserves to be here, that if membership is open to me, it’s open to anyone. Actually, being on the inside means that we are in the position of humble host – therefore we must walk through this world in a posture of humility, and a posture of welcoming hospitality. Having our antenna on means being like the host who is always on the lookout to make sure that people are enjoying themselves or having a good time at their party. The host is always concerned about his guests first and foremost. The host always asks how he can serve his guests, and not demand his guests serve him. See, God tells us that because we are His, we are going to inherit the whole world; we will judge the world (I Cor. 6:2). So we approach those who are outside with gentleness and humility and grace, knowing that we could just as easily be those on the outside. When Jacob moved to Egypt after Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, Joseph brought his father into the presence of Pharaoh to present him to the king of Egypt. And Moses tells us, twice, that Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Here is this old shepherd man, in the presence of the most powerful king on earth, and Jacob blesses Pharaoh! It’s because he knew that he was the host of the planet, and Pharaoh was the guest. That’s the posture of wisdom we are to take with the world; a posture of service, a posture of humility, a posture of grace, a posture of readiness, a posture of alertness, a posture of prayerfulness, that God would grant us grace to make the most of every opportunity.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Aunt Margie on July 24, 2014 at 8:35 am

    Thank you, Caleb, for the reminder of the ‘posture of wisdom we are to take with the world…’.


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