“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:5-6 ESV).
Paul refers to those who aren’t believers as outsiders. I find this choice of words interesting as the world seems to look at us as outsiders. The world is exclusive; it doesn’t like those who don’t fit in. And Christians don’t fit in.
But Christians are, or at least should be, inclusive. We want to let the world “in.” By this I mean that we would like the lost to find Jesus. Paul said it well when sharing his testimony with King Agrippa, “I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am” (Acts 26:29 ESV).
In light of that, we are encouraged to “walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.” Paul gives us a good idea of how we are to go about doing that—by using our words. We all love the idea of “letting our lives do the talking,” because it excuses us from using our words. That is just a bit too uncomfortable. But we have absolutely no way of knowing if the words we speak will be the last ones that an individual might hear. They may be longing for us to share with them the reason for our hope in Christ (1 Peter 3:15).
I don’t mean to intimate that we need to preach the Gospel in our every interaction. This calls for wisdom. But it doesn’t rule out sharing the gospel. We need to use our actions and our words to demonstrate the love and grace of God toward those who are outside the will of God.
Another interesting part of these verses is the word, “answer,” because it carries the implication that there is a question being asked. Sometimes there are literal questions presented to us. Sometimes, however, the questions are unasked, but discernible—if we are paying attention! Here again, we see a need for wisdom.
It can be uncomfortable opening our mouths to speak about Jesus and the difference He has made in our lives. But where would we be if someone hadn’t shared the gospel with us? With so great a salvation and so many lost, we would be remiss if we were to discount the “outsiders,” leaving them to find Jesus on their own.
I encourage you to make the best use of the time, pay attention to questions—asked and unspoken, and speak graciously, with all wisdom. Let’s widen our circles and invite others to join in the great adventure that is faith in Christ.
Blessings on your day!