"Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person." (Colossians 4:5-6)Most of us go through life with little thought as to what and how we are living. We are on autopilot; living and responding as we always have; living by habits and patterns developed over years of life experiences. However, Paul is asking us to be more purposeful in our lives; to take a greater interest and care in how we live and act, especially as it relates to those around us.
The goal of the Gospel is the reconciliation of men and women back to God. However, not only are we reconciled to God but we are also reconciled towards one another and made members of God's family; members of His household. We live in a world where there are two spiritual families. Those who are the children of God and those who are called, "children of wrath," (Ephesians 2:3) "children of the devil," (1 John 3:10) and "sons of disobedience." (Colossians 3:6) Each day we live and commingle with those who have yet to know God and have yet to be reconciled to God through His Son. Each day we are given an opportunity to leave an impression on other people regarding the Gospel and the God we serve. However, when we live our lives on autopilot, that message gets lost and confused though the business and distractions of life.
If we are to allow our lives to testify of God and His Gospel, there are three things we must do. First we need to live our lives according to wisdom. Wisdom, like prudence, is knowing what not to do; it's knowing how to avoid sin. However, wisdom, unlike prudence, is also knowing what to do; it's knowing how to do righteousness. We need to think about how we should live. We need to consider the message our lives are sending to people around us. If we go through life always complaining, then how can we convince a lost world of the joy that comes from knowing Christ? If we always surrender to the will of the majority and never stand up for righteousness and justice, how will the world see that there is another way of living? We must learn to direct our lives and our behavior according to wisdom, the wisdom of God.
Secondly, we need a since of urgency. Paul says in another place that we should be "making the most of your time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:16) In both cases the Greek term for "making the most" means to "redeem" or "buy back." Life is very short and sometimes opportunities do not come twice. We never know what lies ahead for anyone and we may never get another opportunity to communicate to them the good news of the Gospel of God. We need to redeem the time, to buy it back, before it is too late. We cannot afford to withhold our testimony from those who need it just because it might inconvenience us or disrupt our plans. Life is precious and time is short.
Finally, we need to make sure that the conversation of our lives is seasoned with salt. There is a saying that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Standing on a street corner preaching hell-fire and brimstone may work for some people but many find such a message unpalatable. We meed to learn how to communicate the Gospel in a way that is easily to receive and digest by those who hear it. This does not mean that we compromise the message but sometimes a "spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down." Being tough, bold, and blunt may inflate our immature pride, but it does not win many friends. Think about how the other person is hearing what you are saying. Remember how you felt when you first heard the Gospel. Remember that the Gospel is of little value if it is not, or cannot, be received by the hearer. Learn to speak in a way others can receive it.