Colossians 4:5-6 - Time is Short

Colossians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  39:46
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John Piper in his book Don’t Waste Your Life, told the following two accounts.
In April 2000, Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards were killed in Cameroon, West Africa. Ruby was over eighty. Single all her life, she poured it out for one great thing: to make Jesus Christ known among the unreached, the poor, and the sick. Laura was a widow, a medical doctor, pushing eighty years old, and serving at Ruby’s side in Cameroon. The brakes failed, the car went over a cliff, and they were both killed instantly. I asked my congregation: Was that a tragedy? Two lives, driven by one great passion, namely, to be spent in unheralded service to the perishing poor for the glory of Jesus Christ—even two decades after most of their American counterparts had retired to throw away their lives on trifles. No, that is not a tragedy. That is a glory. These lives were not wasted. And these lives were not lost. “Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35).
I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider a story from the February 1998 edition of Reader’s Digest, which tells about a couple who “took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was fifty-nine and she was fifty-one. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball, and collect shells.” At first, when I read it I thought it might be a joke. A spoof on the American Dream. But it wasn’t. Tragically, this was the dream: come to the end of your life—your one and only precious, God-given life—and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells. Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: “Look, Lord. See my shells.” That is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. Over against that, I put my protest: Don’t buy it.
Don’t waste your life.
As these two pointed accounts penetrate our hearts and minds, let us read the Word of God in order to further understand the truth God has for us today.
Join me as we read God’s Word:
Colossians 4:5–6 ESV
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.
Let us pray.
Today we are going to discuss two ways that we need to live - in light of the fact that our time on earth is limited. Our first point is:

I. Because Our Time on Earth is Short…We Should Walk Wisely (Colossians 4:5)

Colossians 4:5 ESV
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.
Those introductory accounts really opened my eyes a few years ago to the vanity of life. So many people spend their time chasing after their own dreams and pleasures. The American Dream is the goal of many a retirement account - only to find that all of that time spent amassing this wealth doesn’t bring the joy it provides. It proves fleeting and with a turn of the stock market - it evaporates anyway.
Where is your heart my friends? How is your walk? How do you make the best use of your time?
Let’s start by digging into the first half of this first verse. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders. We have discussed wisdom in the past, but I think we can always use a refresher.
The Greek word for wisdom is sophia and refers to wisdom first and foremost. Some other ideas that help illuminate what this word means are to be prudent, clever, skilled, insightful, knowledgeable, and to be experienced in.
Wisdom is not only having the right experience and knowledge though. Although these are definitely beneficial for wisdom there are many who have a vast array of experiences and are very learned who lack wisdom. Some incredibly intellectual people are also incredibly foolish.
Wisdom is being able to take knowledge and experience and insight and apply it at the right time in the right way.
And true wisdom comes from God who gives generously to those who are in Christ. See what James says about this:
James 1:5 ESV
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
How amazing is this? If you lack wisdom, God encourages you to ask and then promises to answer your request! The verses following this expound upon the fact that we should not doubt that God can do this however. We must trust God in faith and He promises to come through with wisdom for those who ask.
Our God is an unchanging and consistent God. And we can see Him answer this even in the Old Testament with King Solomon.
King Solomon has just taken over the throne from his father David and is overwhelmed and unprepared for the task at hand. Then God appears: 1 Kings 3:5
1 Kings 3:5 ESV
At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.”
What a question! Ask what I shall give you. And this question is coming from the Creator God - the Almighty - the Maker of heaven and earth. What would your answer to that question be? Money, fame, power, athletic prowess, good looks! Most people in our culture would ask for something as fleeting as those. But Solomon asks for something else.
1 Kings 3:9 ESV
Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”
He asks for wisdom - an understanding mind to govern the people of Israel.
God loves this request! He not only gives him wisdom but also gives him riches and power. God is a God who loves wisdom and loves to gift it to His children with wisdom.
Moving back to our verse:
Colossians 4:5 ESV
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.
There are many reasons we need to walk in wisdom. The first being because it helps us be obedient to Christ and live a more holy life. But Paul touches on a different reason as well here. Outsiders.
The Greek word for outsiders here describes those who are are not believers. They are outside of the body of Christ. They are not Christians.
The Preachers Outline and Study Bible says this about outsiders:
Outsiders Are:
(adapted from the Preachers Outline and Study Bible)
Without hope beyond this life
Without assurance of life hereafter with God
Without help in facing the trials and traumas of this life
Without peace and security
Without fellowship with God and His family of believers
Without freedom from guilt - no assurance of forgiveness
Without light - no freedom from darkness and the grave
Do you hear the darkness and sadness in these statements?
Outsiders are without hope, without assurance, without help, without peace and security, without fellowship, and without freedom.
How we walk before them is very important.
I have heard a great many people make the statement that we might be the only Bible that some people ever read. I think there is some definite truth in that. However, we must not just influence those around us with the way that we walk. We must also make the most of every opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are walking wisely when we walk the walk but also as we talk the talk.
As believers we are to make the most of every opportunity to share the Gospel. People are not saved by our righteous living. Our righteousness only gives credibility to our message. When people see the righteousness of Christ coming out of you through a changed life and heart that is bent on serving and loving God as well as others - it gives credibility to the true message of the Gospel. But the holy life in a believer is insufficient to save souls unless unbelievers know the Savior who changed the life of the believer.
My friends, don’t use your witness as an excuse not to share the Gospel. Don’t feel good just because you are kind to people and are generous and gracious to others. No one has ever been directly saved because someone was kind to them. How you treat people matters immensely - don’t misunderstand me. If you have a poor witness by lacking kindness, love, or integrity - you may have closed any door in order to be able to share the Good News with that person. But practicing gracious living alone is not what leads someone else to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. They must hear the Gospel proclaimed, repent of their sins, and place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ in order to be saved.
Romans 10:14 ESV
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
Brothers and sisters, let’s be sure that we walk the walk and talk the talk. Let’s start sharing the Gospel with our neighbors, family, friends. Because time is short.
Colossians 4:5 (ESV)
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.
Look at the end of Colossians 4:5. Making the best use of the time.
This Greek word means to buy back or to make this time count. Listen to the Psalmist encourage good time management as well.
Psalm 90:12 ESV
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
True wisdom understands that our days are numbered. We are a mist or a vapor that is here one day and gone the next.
James 4:14 (ESV)
What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
We need to make the most of our time while on earth because others are also perishing quickly as well. For us who are in Christ, this news is not necessarily bad. Sure we have things we would like to accomplish. Sure we want to spend more time with our families. But to live is Christ but to die is gain as Paul said (Philippians 1:21). We know where we are going!
But for outsiders - they will be just that. They will be outside of heaven for all eternity. And there is only one place that those who are outside of heaven go. And that place is Hell.
We must take advantage of every opportunity to share the Gospel with unbelievers.
We talked about the way to waste your life. It was to spend it on your self alone - selfishly reveling in your pleasures while countless souls go into eternal darkness.
Church - let us not waste our life on things that have no eternal difference. May we not spend our time toiling for the things that that are temporal while our neighbors pass away and enter eternal torment. Walk with God minute by minute and hour by hour and day by day as we discussed last week. Be praying continually and be ready for the circumstances and situations that God will put in your path. When you are willing and ready, He will start opening doors to share the Gospel. Keep open eyes and make the most of every opportunity. Time is short.
And because...
Scripture References: James 1:5; 1 Kings 3:5,9; Romans 10:14, Psalm 90:12; James 4:14, Philippians 1:21

II. Because Our Time on Earth is Short…We Should Speak Soundly (Colossians 4:6)

Colossians 4:6 ESV
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Let your speech - this refers to everything that you say. It isn’t just getting up in front of people and giving a message. It encompasses every word you say. All of your conversations. And here it is emphasized more because it comes right after a charge to walk in wisdom toward outsiders or unbelievers. This command has much to do about your personal witness before the world.
Theologian Richard Melick makes an important distinction when it comes to speech.
“...both the content of words spoken and the method of speaking matter”
Richard Melick
1. Content
What you say matters. The truthfulness and accuracy of the words that you say gives a direct correlation of your character and integrity. The subject matter in which you talk about also gives some great insight into your heart and mind.
What do you spend most of your time discussing with others? Especially unbelievers?
Is it usually superficial such as sports or the weather or is it more substantial such as the Gospel or Biblical truth? I understand that there will be times that we discuss more superficial things as we get to know someone. But our conversations with work colleagues, neighbors, family, and friends should get deeper over time. We shouldn’t just be satisfied with wasting our lives by talking about things that really don’t matter.
Engage those around you in deeper conversations. Get more real with people. Ask more pointed and open ended questions and get to know people on a different level. And take advantage of every opportunity to bring in the Gospel for our time on earth is short.
Next we need to address the method.
2. Method
This has to do more with how we say what we say. Delivery matters, church. You can say the same thing two different ways and have very different outcomes. This is where the next section of Scripture starts to pick up.
Colossians 4:6 ESV
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Your speech should be gracious and seasoned with salt.
This word gracious in Greek is charis and refers to unmerited favor. This is the same word we see in Ephesians 2:8
Ephesians 2:8 ESV
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
We are saved by grace. And we are to be gracious in our speech to others - especially outsiders in this context. Remember, this Greek word means unmerited favor. It is unearned favor. Just as we are saved by grace we are to be gracious toward others.
I can tell you one thing - as I started studying through this application that the Lord started laying out in front of me, I could feel the weight of this command. Paul is comparing our salvation - the grace offered to us through Christ - to how we should treat and talk to others - even our enemies. Even those outside the church who might stand in direct opposition to everything we stand for.
Many difficult situations come to mind in this setting. One such situation comes from living In a society marked by the murder of the pre-born. Even to these pro abortion advocates we are to continue speaking graciously. Yes we stand up and we fight for these human lives that are murderously suffering at the hands of executioners called health care providers working as undertakers. But we also are to speak to them graciously.
This means that although we should take a firm approach, we should take an approach that values the lives of those who are against us. We should speak with the motivation of hoping to see our enemies saved.
I’m afraid most of us - myself included - don’t always take that approach. When it comes to hot button issues - especially ones like abortion, I think we have a tendency to villainize our opponents and write them off as hell-bent pagans who have no capacity for salvation.
Yet we know that anyone who is still breathing can be saved. The Apostle Paul was one such man in whom his opponents likely felt was beyond reach for even Christ. As a murderer and persecutor of Christians, he would have surely been voted ‘least likely to be saved’ by his counterparts! However, Paul was miraculously saved and became a significant leader in the early church.
To move forward in understanding this concept let’s continue going through verse 6:
Colossians 4:6 (ESV)
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Paul even throws in a little phrase - seasoned with salt - to help us understand the importance of our speech.
Salt in ancient times was used for flavor, as a healing remedy, and for preservation. How Paul meant for this to be taken requires some speculation, but it is plausible that he understood all three of these uses for salt and used them to further understand how our speech should be presented to outsiders.
1. Salt as Flavor
The first use for salt is that it makes food taste better and gives it a richness in flavor. Our speech should have substance and richness. It should be full of the riches of God’s Word and the truth of the Scripture. It should have depth. When people leave most conversations with you, they should have encountered some truths of God’s Word. Not that we are to Bible bash people, but we should be so saturated by the Word of God that it pours out through us in the way we speak and the advice and guidance we give others.
2. Salt as Healing
This one is a little more difficult practically. Salt can be used as an antiseptic. We still use saline solution (salt solution) in medicine to cleanse wounds. This salt can sting when it first hits especially.
Our speech should not only be gracious, but it also needs to be fully truth. And truthful speech can be painful at first. We should speak this truth in love though, knowing that it might cause temporary pain in those we address.
Not to belabor the issue of abortion but this is a great example where truth can hurt. If you or someone you know has had an abortion, the truth of the gravity of this sin can be very painful at first. Yet the love of Christ and the grace of Christ is a wonderful balm that provides healing. The same salt that hurt is the same salt that is life preserving.
This salt of truth prevents corruption from sin in our lives just like saline solution on a wound keeps out harmful bacteria.
3. Salt as Preservation
Finally, we see that salt can be a preserver. Salt has been used with meats and other foods to preserve them for centuries. How can our speech be life preserving toward others?
Lets look at a Scripture that points to this concept further:
1 Peter 3:15 (ESV)
...always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
This means that we should always be prepared to share the Gospel as we have already stated earlier in this message. And we should do it in love and graciously.
The most life preserving words that can come out of your mouth are the words of the Gospel. There is nothing more preserving than that.
Brothers and sisters, we talked about the qualities of outsiders in our first point. They are without hope and without assurance. But we are not without hope or assurance. We have the words of life for others. We know the One who created them and Who desires a relationship with them. May our conversations be life preserving to others.
Scripture References: Ephesians 2:8; 1 Peter 3:15
As we come to a close today, I pray that we understand the gravity of our lives on earth. Our time on earth is indeed short. And everyone around us has this same lot. It is estimated that somewhere around 150-165 thousand people die each day in our world. Most of these people die as unbelievers and face eternal judgment.
Many will scoff and say - well why doesn’t God do something about it then!
He did. He sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins. He took on our sin so that we could have eternal life with Him for all eternity by repenting (turning from our sins) and believing and trusting in Christ as our Savior.
But then others will say - well why doesn’t He tell everyone about this? What is His plan to spread this Good News of the Gospel?
You are His plan church. His plan has always been to send out believers into the world to share the Gospel. Let’s be the church and move forward in doing this.
I want to encourage you all to join us Saturday, July 2nd, to go to Valley Park and hand out waters and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others. We can go in teams of 2-3 or so and it can be a great time where you can learn from someone who might be more comfortable with this than yourself.
We will meet at CrossPointe at 10:15 AM to discuss our plan and will spend an hour or so at the park talking with people.
I encourage you to step out in faith and take this event seriously. People’s eternal lives are at stake. They need to hear in order to believe. Let’s be that life preserving speech to our region.
Let us pray.
If you would like to learn more about salvation through Jesus Christ or want to obey Jesus by obeying the first commandment of a believer in going through the waters of baptism - please let me know.
Have a blessed week.
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