Colossians #18 Colossians 4: 5-6

 


Colossians #18 Colossians 4: 5-6

 Last time we learned that there is to be mutual reciprocity among brothers and sisters in Christ to intercede for one another.  Who have you prayed for this week?  Who have you stood in the gap and pleaded that God supplies them with that “in spite of power” to meet the challenges in their life and overcome the obstacles they face?  Did you ask someone to pray for you, that the same “in spite of power” would be yours to the full to help you keep on keeping on in the midst of your storm?  Mutual reciprocity, praying for one another is yet another characteristic of those who have bent their knee to God through faith in Jesus.

 Have you bent your knee?  That’s where your spiritual journey starts on the upward trail.  Have you acknowledged that the relationships in your life are not the way you want them to be?  Has it been revealed to you that sin is the reason for the estrangement you have experienced?  Do you realize that there is a spiritual economy that teaches that sin separates?  Have you come to believe that Jesus reconciles relationships?  Jesus died making atonement for sin so that if you choose to receive the gift He has made available sets you right with God, and empowers you to be right with others and yourself?  Having acknowledged and believed have you committed yourself to a sacred vow to be Jesus’ disciple and learn how to live your life to the full?  That’s what bending the knee is all about, recognizing His right to command, guide, and be obeyed.  Having acknowledged, believed, and committed, have you asked God to accept your faith?  If you have, and if you continue, you are God’s adopted child, you have been made a citizen of the Kingdom of God, and you are part of the family of believers.  If not, discover what is holding you from getting in on God’s invitation.  Whatever is holding you back is a locked door to the blessings God wants to enrich your life with.  Figure out what is holding you back and then ask God to unlock the door.  He will and then you will know how to respond.

 We are coming to the close of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the believers in Colossae. 

Paul has refuted the teachings of the Gnostics and Judaizers.  He has explained how disciples are to treat one another.  In these next two verses, Paul is writing about how we are to interact with those outside of our spiritual family, to those who haven’t bent their knee.   

 Colossians 4:5-6 (MSG)

Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don't miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.

Disciples do not withdraw from society.  The monk in wilderness isolation is abnormal.  The closed community, the holy huddle is abnormal.  Christianity is a socially responsible faith.  Jesus withdrew from the others for prayer time and for rest time, other times He was engaged in fulfilling the mission of revealing the Kingdom of God to the world.

 The way the world is set up there are things that you need to do to thrive. One of those things possibly is a secular vocation.  You work for a company in the office, out in the streets, in the fields, and you trade your time, your labor, for income.  That’s how we peasants live.  In that living, disciples come in contact with those who have yet to receive God’s gift of reconciliation and all that goes with it. Most likely these others wear garments associated with your old way of life, a life dominated by egoism, selfishness, and self-centeredness, where you look out for number one first.  As you have heard “the only normal person in the room is you, the rest are just degrees of abnormal.” God has His ambassadors, you, placed amongst those He desires to bring into his Kingdom.  Through you, God invades the world to bring the gospel to others so that in following Jesus they might truly thrive.

 Surprise!  You’re a missionary.  You’re a missionary from the kingdom of God to the people in your world, in your sphere of influence where you work, shop, live, and recreate. You have been given the responsibility and the power to show others, in the things you do, the way of Jesus.  It is through you, your way of doing life, that an appeal is made.  What you do and how you do it matters, your behavior will either be appealing or repelling.

 This task calls for wisdom and tact.  Use your head Paul admonishes.  We have a lot of public animosities to overcome.  There has been so much abuse of power, so much scamming, so much hypocrisy, so much cultural compromise, and so much concentration on keeping the religious systems going, that in the public eye there is no truth in the Church, no goodness, no righteousness.  Jesus gave us a warning, He said:  “There will even come a time when anyone who kills you will think he's doing God a favor” (John 16:2 (MSG).  Overcoming this prejudice will require wisdom and tact.

 Wisdom is to be found in the things you do. 

1 Peter 2:12 (MSG)

Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they'll be won over to God's side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.

Live your life to the full in front of others.  Let them see that you are a real person (Matthew 5:37), a good person (Luke 16:31), one who loves others (1 John 4:8), does stuff for others (Galatians 5:13), willing to go the extra mile with others (Matthew 5:41).  You invite people into the Kingdom when you behave like the King, like Jesus. 

Wisdom focuses on the things you do.  Tact focuses on the things you say. I think I  have a spiritual gift for complaining.  I have forgotten what the assignment was, but I remember complaining, saying something like “this is really stupid” and such to a group of my peers and Art LaGrange asked me if that’s how all Christians behaved.  Wow, talk about a wake-up call.  The Holy Spirit stopped my rant and I said; “No Art, and I apologize for my negativity.”  Tact is saying the right thing at the right time.  Not only does what you do matters but what you say matters. 

 Tact requires a degree of thoughtfulness and understanding of a situation that with sensitivity and delicacy you can deal with the circumstances.  Another time I said the right thing the wrong way.  I was telling someone that if the guy they are dating now is abusive it will only get worse later and that the best course of action is to run out of the relationship yesterday.  Well without tact, it came out harsh, judgmental and sounded a whole like anger. Tactful speech requires sensitivity for the other.  Think before you speak. A spoon full of grace helps the truth go down.

 It is good to remember that listening is often more powerful in helping someone than talking.  There will be times though when you will need to speak.  When you feel the need to speak, to advise, to warn, to correct, ask the Holy Spirit to give you the right words, words to say in the right way. 

Matthew 10:19-20 (MSG)

“…don't worry about what you'll say or how you'll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words.”

 90% of effective counseling is in listening to a person sort out their problem, asking questions instead of giving answers, even when asked for an answer.  The Holy Spirit can give you words for the other 10%.

 There is another stereotype for the disciple to overcome.  “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints” is a lyric from a song I hate, “Only the Good Die Young.”  Because Christ-followers don’t party like the world parties we have the image of being uptight and no fun.  I have seen brothers and sisters who looked and spoke like they were baptized in lemon juice and had cod liver oil instead of wine during communion.  A people of don’t; a people of against; a people of bigotry; a people of legalism, nobody wants to be with those kinds of people.  Don’t behave and speak like one who deserves their accusations.  Don’t fit the stereotype.  Let joy and laughter fill your life, there are always occasions to cry, to grieve, but there are also times to rejoice.  The sky is blue, the promises are true, the future secure.  You have the power to cultivate a heart of gratitude for life, thanksgiving flows from you.  You have “in spite of power,” and you keep on through the toughest of circumstances. You have the power to work good out of every situation because the One dwelling within you does that sort of thing.  You have the power to live your life to the full, rightly related to God, Others, and yourself.   Have Godly fun.  Laughter is attractive.  Joy is attractive.  Mirth and wit are attractive.  Sanctimonious dullness, quiet as a church, no! When the wrinkles come let them be laugh lines etched on your face.  You’ve been given the best of sweetheart deals.  Enjoy it.

With wisdom and tact and joy we are to make the most of every opportunity to witness, to testify, to glorify our savior, Jesus.  There is no opportunity if you don’t look for it. When you seek out opportunity the Holy Spirit opens your eyes to all of it around you. There is opportunity all around you every day; everywhere you go, to represent the Kingdom.  Don’t avoid the opportunities; embrace them by being a lover.

 If you lack wisdom ask God. Need wisdom:

James 1:5 (MSG)

If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it.

 If you lack tack ask for compassion

Ephesians 4:15 (MSG)

God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do.

 God wants you to tell the truth to others with love.  If God wants you to do so, He gives you the power to do so.  Compassion seasons your words in grace and kindness.

 If you lack joy ask for it.  You’ve been prayed for:

Romans 15:13 (MSG)

Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!

 As followers of Jesus, we are to relate rightly to God the Father through our obedience.  We are to relate rightly to our brothers and sisters by wearing the wardrobe of the Kingdom. We are to relate rightly to those yet to have bent the knee by being love in action.

 Here’s the truth to let grow in your heart:

The opportunity to influence others for Jesus is all around you. Make the most of those opportunities by the things you do, the words you speak, and the laughter in your soul.


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