Reading the letter Paul wrote to the Colossians makes you think the believers at Colossae had some issues with words. Don’t we all?
I think it’s important to include the words Paul wrote just before these: “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”
Believers are stationed, if you will, among unbelievers. There’s a reason. God wants His children to be around one another to recharge and receive His encouragement, but His purpose for them is to be light on a hill – a beacon of His grace to those who are perishing. We are supposed to be in the middle of unbelievers.
Well, what happens when we’re among the unbelievers and stammer, stutter, falter, and forget the truth about our faith? If we seem unsure about what we’re talking about, is it possible those asking about our faith will find it unattractive? Will they walk away to their own devices and miss heaven? I don’t know the answer to that, but I think that’s on track with what Paul was saying.
We must practice speaking with grace. There is no need to – as we say in the South – talk ugly to people. None. You can get your thoughts across using words laced with kindness and favor. When we do, we’ll seem different. People will notice. Now, of course, some will try and test you. It happens. Continue to speak with grace.
Paul included “attractive” as a descriptor of what our conversations should be. Pleasant, winsome, interesting. When talking with unbelievers, we shouldn’t be discussing deeply spiritual things. (Read 1 Corinthians 2:14)
Why would someone want to join us at church when we look pitiful and say, “I have to go to church”? What if we said “I get to go to church Sunday!”? What if we said we get to participate in this ministry effort or mission? What if we sounded excited about serving the Lord?
What if we talked about that time when the money was tight and we thought we had all the bills caught up only to get the bill for $120 in the mail? With nothing left to pay that, tears flowed until seeing cash that had been “paid” for a look under the hood of a vehicle that found nothing wrong, unfolded bills that totaled exactly $120! What if we told those stories in the presence of unbelievers over and over, each time crediting God with the relief, peace, joy, excitement, and life given? (True story, by the way.)
What if instead of complaining and condemning we were intentional about adding a dash of salt to our conversations? Did you know that just a few grains of salt added to the grounds can remove the bitterness of coffee? Surely it can do the same for our words! (Disclaimer: I do not mean application of the granules to the person we’re speaking to or to our tongues when speaking. It’s a metaphor, y’all. Salt is pure. It is flavorful. It is grace.)
Let’s start this habit (maybe again) today. Let’s be cognizant of the words we say before we say them. Let’s take a breath before we speak so that the words we utter are gracious and attractive. With this ongoing practice, our answers to those with questions will be gracious and interesting, winning some to the Lord.
Coffee, Bible, Journal.