Colossians 4:2-18

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Duties of every Christian

Colossians 4:2-6

Colossians 4:2–6 ESV “4:2 ¶ Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 

4:3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 

4:4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. 

4:5 ¶ Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 

4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” 

Paul writes his letter to the church to instruct them on how to live in this world and point people to the Lord Jesus Christ. He knows the only answer for mankind is Jesus Christ, and the only way they will hear is by the church proclaiming the Gospel.

In the earlier verses, Paul stresses how you treat others so they might see your faith in Jesus Christ. Your faith plays an important role in your relationship to both saved and lost.

Paul continues to stress to the church two very important duties the Lord has given the church: prayer and witnessing.

Praying for the sharing of the Gospel

Colossians 4:2–4 ESV “4:2 ¶ Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 

4:3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 

4:4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” 

Every Christian has the duty to pray for the church, his family, others, nation, ministry, themselves, and so much more.

Paul gives four instructions about one’s prayer life.

Be daily in your prayer life

The word ‘continue’ means to be consistent in one’s prayer life.  Consistency means to be mindful of one’s prayers each and every day.  Daniel was a man of prayer that he prayed in the morning, noon, and evening.  Even when he was forbidden to pray, he prayed.

Psalm 55:17 ESV “Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.” 

Daniel 6:10 ESV “¶ When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.”

Paul reminds the Christian in Philippians chapter four and verse six not to fret or worry over things but to pray.

Philippians 4:6 ESV “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” 

Be watchful in your prayer life

Matthew 26:41 ESV “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.””

How does the Christian know what to pray for?  He must be vigilant and aware of what is happening around him, in the church, in the nation, and in the world.  He must be aware of what needs prayer.  He must be aware of the needs of the church, ministry, and etcetera.

There are so many things that keep the Christian from being vigilant.  Things like sleepiness in one’s Christian duties will keep a Christian from praying for the real needs of the church and family.  Distractions with the things of the world will keep a Christian from being watchful on the things he needs praying about.  Being too busy will keep a Christian from praying about the things that he should be praying for.  These and other distractions can keep a Christian from being watchful or vigilant in prayer.

Be thankful in your prayer life

Thankfulness to the Lord is so important in one’s prayer life.  The Christian’s prayer should be coupled with and full of thanksgiving and praise to the Lord.  The Christian must be thankful for all that the Lord has done and is doing for him.  He needs to have a heart of praise and a heart of thankfulness for the Lord’s blessings.

Ephesians 5:20 ESV “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” 

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 

Psalm 92:1 ESV “¶ It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;” 

Be missionary minded in your prayer life

Colossians 4:3–4 ESV “4:3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 

4:4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” 

Another part of the prayer ministry of the Christian is the prayer for the ministry of the church and others.  Paul is asking the church at Colossae to be in prayer for him.  Paul, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, knew the power of prayer.  He knew that prayer was important for his ministry.  So, Paul asked the church to pray that he had a door of opportunity that he might share Christ with others.

What a wonderful ministry that a Christian has when they can pray for an open door of opportunity to share Christ!  It is a joy to pray for the ministry of others.  It is a joy to pray for the ministry of the church.  The Christian should pray that his own church has a wonderful door of opportunity to share Jesus with others.

Paul asked the church to pray that he has continual boldness to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul endured great hardship because he preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  He suffered persecutions, afflictions, and imprisonment.  He was in prison because he preached the Gospel.  He wanted the church to pray that he never compromises the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

One of the dangers of the pastor is after years of preaching to succumb to the temptation to compromise the message of the Gospel.  It can come from temptations, persecutions, or pressures from others to water down the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It can be the temptation to have larger crowds or more money.  It can be the temptation to have an easier time preaching.  Whatever the temptation, the pastor must guard against not preaching the Gospel of Christ.  He needs the prayers of others for boldness in his preaching.

He asked for prayer to help him reveal the Gospel to others.  He wanted the church to pray that he shared Christ with others in a clear manner.

Witnessing to the lost about Jesus Christ

Colossians 4:5–6 ESV “4:5 ¶ Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 

4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” 

Witness by how you live your life

Action must follow prayer. As the Christian is praying for the spreading of the Gospel, he or she must be active in sharing the Gospel in their lives.

Paul gives two aspects of sharing the Gospel: how you live and how you speak.

In verse 5, Paul stresses the Christian must behave, live, and walk in wisdom before the lost. How he or she acts, does, and lives will make a great impact on the testimony they have before the ones they come in contact with daily. One’s attitude, actions, words, and motives play a huge part in the effectiveness of their lives to reach people for Jesus Christ.

One will either draw them to Christ or repeal them away from Christ by how they live.

Christ stressed the believer’s behavior in His sermon on the mount.  He told the child of God that he was a light shining in darkness.  And, this light is to point others to the Lord.

Matthew 5:14–16 ESV “5:14 ¶ “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

5:15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.

5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” 

It is a sad state when Christians act in a hateful or discourteous manner in public.  When they bring a reproach on the name of Christ by the way they act; it is not pleasing to the Lord.

One Sunday, after the evening service, I was in the checkout line at Wal-Mart buying a couple gallons of milk and a loaf of bread.  The person in front of me could not speak English and the cashier could not speak Spanish.  So, the transaction took longer than normal.  When I finally reached the checkout, the cashier apologized for the delay.  I told her that it was no problem that it was nothing to be upset about.  She made the statement that the worse and rudest customers on Sunday were the ones that just came from church.  What a horrible testimony to leave a person!

The Christian must behave himself in such a manner as to bring others to Christ, not repel them away.

Witness  by what you say (includes words and tone)

Paul uses three words to describe the Christian’s speech in regard to unbelievers:  alway, grace, salt.  Each word speaks about a specific need for the Christian to have the right speech to those that are lost.  And, this speech includes more than just the words but the tone and attitude too.

Alway

The word ‘always’ signifies that the Christian must use the right speech all the time.  He cannot use good speech one day and foul speech the other day.  He cannot be inconsistent with his speech.

James 3:6–12 ESV “3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.

3:7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 

3:8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 

3:9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 

3:10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 

3:11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 

3:12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.” 

Grace

Proverbs 25:11 ESV “¶ A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”

The word ‘grace’ signifies the words that the Christian uses.  It should be words of kindness, courteous, and gracious.  It should not be words of hate, spite, anger, and so forth.  It is saying that the Christian must choose his words wisely and cautiously so he might show the love of Christ to the unbeliever.

Salt

The word ‘salt’ is referring to the seasoning on our words, the attitude and tone of the words.  The conversation should be enjoyable and pleasant.  It should be one that brings the person closer to the Lord and not further away.  It should be a blessing and not a curse.

Matthew 5:13 ESV “¶ “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”

How should the Christian’s speech be seasoned with salt?  What does it mean?

Salt has unusual characteristics.  When salt is rub on meat, it will penetrate the meat to the bone.  When speech is seasoned with salt, it will go deep inside of the person.  It will make an impression on the person.

Salt rubbed on meat will keep the meat from spoiling; it has preserving properties.  When the Christian’s speech is seasoned with salt, it helps the person be preserved because it brings the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them.

Salt sprinkled on meat adds tremendous flavor to the meat.  Salt adds flavor.  Salt adds character to the meal.  When the Christian’s speech is seasoned with salt, it makes it favorable, enjoyable, and pleasant.

Titus 2:7–8 ESV “2:7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 

2:8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” 

Consider the following passages.

Matthew 5:37 ESV “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” 

James 3:2 ESV “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” 

1 Peter 3:15 ESV “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, 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,” 

Also remember that every word that the Christian says will be judged one day.  The Christian will give an account of his words, motives, tone, and attitude.

Matthew 12:33–37 ESV “12:33 ¶ “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.

12:34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

12:35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.

12:36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,

12:37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.””

Paul’s closing remarks

Colossians 4:7–18 ESV “4:7 ¶ Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 

4:8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, 

4:9 and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here. 

4:10 ¶ Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him), 

4:11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. 

4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. 

4:13 For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. 

4:14 Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. 

4:15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 

4:16 And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 

4:17 And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.” 

4:18 ¶ I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.”

Lessons

There is a saying that goes like this, “If everyone will do his part, the job will get done.”  This is so true in the church, if every person will do his or her part, then the ministry will accomplish great things.  There are several excuses that Christians give to keep from doing the ministry.

First excuse:  my age

“I have paid my dues, time for the young people to carry the load.”  Throughout the Scriptures, there is no retirement for the children of God.  The focus of the person’s ministry might change as life goes along, but the ministry does not stop.  Moses was eighty years old when he led the children of Israel out of Egypt.  He was over one hundred and twenty years when the Lord called him home.

We are to continue praying and sharing the Gospel until the Lord calls us home.

Second excuse:  I don’t know how

“I do not know what to say to someone to lead them to Jesus Christ.”  The Christian’s job is not saving the person, the Christian’s job is sharing the Gospel.  It is up to the Holy Spirit to save the person.  Sharing Christ can be simply done by telling someone what Christ has done for the Christian in his or her life.  The Christian needs to sit down and write out his or her testimony.  This will enable the Christian to share the hope and joy that in within his or her life with others.

1 Peter 3:15 ESV “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, 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,”

The Scriptures tells the Christian to prepare his answer beforehand so that when one sees the difference in his life, he will have an answer.

Third excuse:  It is someone else’s job

“I am not responsible for this; it is someone else’s job.”  Unfortunately, the idea among some is that the church has paid professionals to do the ministry.  This is not accurate according to the Scriptures.  The church is to prepare the Christian for service in the world.  Every Christian, from the paid staff to each member, has a ministry of prayer and witnessing.

“Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.”⁠1

1 Peter 2:9 ESV “¶ But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 

What is our excuse for not sharing the good news of Jesus Christ?

Lets pray for God to open a door for the Gospel and when He opens the door, let us share the Gospel by how we live and talk.

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1 Book on Illustrations – ??? – not sure where I found this

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