God could spread the gospel without using us. And sometimes He does. But most of the time He doesn’t.
If I were able to speak to many of you and ask each one of you to share your testimonies, I’m guessing that the majority of you would talk about one or two individuals whom God brought into your lives and used to wake you up to your need for Jesus Christ.
When it comes to spreading the gospel, most of the time, God uses individuals to do it.
Because of that,each one of us needs to think carefully about the way we live and the way we relate to unbelievers.
In Colossians 4, Paul says we need to live wisely.
“Conduct yourselves wisely towards outsiders….”
If I were to talk with you about what those individuals God used in your life were like, I’m guessing most of you would say something about the way they lived. I haven’t met too many people who when sharing their testimony said I became a Christian after I met this guy who was a total hypocrite and I was like man that’s great.
No, God uses individuals and He often uses their godly lives.
That’s part of His plan.
But how do we live wisely? What does that mean?
It means first of all being very purposeful about the way we live.
Being purposeful is making the most of every opportunity God gives us for His glory. That’s what Paul is getting at when he says, “Conduct yourselves wisely towards outsiders, making the best use of the time.”
That phrase explains how to live wisely, and literally means – “redeeming the time.” When you redeem something you are purchasing it, and so when Paul talks about redeeming the time, it is as if he is saying, if you are going to live wisely you need to “purchase opportunities for yourself to spread the gospel with the time God’s given you.”
In other words if you are going to live wisely you are going to seek to take advantage of every opportunity you get to point people to Jesus Christ.
The picture I get in my mind which helps me understand this phrase is of one of those, and you may have seen this on a game show, it’s basically this glass closet that they put people into, and then for a minute they rain down money on them, and they get to keep all the money they can grab. I guarantee you as the money rains down on them they are not sitting there with their hands in their pockets. They are grabbing every single dollar they can until their minute is up.
That’s the way we should be with opportunities to point people to Jesus Christ. Grabbing every chance we get. After all, we all say that’s the most important thing we can do with our lives. Yet too often we lollygag around like we had all the time and opportunity in the world to do that.
If a doctor were to tell me that I had one week left to live, I can guarantee you I’d think very carefully about how I spent that last week. I wouldn’t want to waste any opportunity to do the things I thought were most important. You’d be pretty surprised if knowing I only had a week to live I wasted much time doing trivial activities.
Well none of us knows how much longer we have to live, hopefully it’s more than a week, but even if it is seventy more years, still time is limited. And if we really believe that pointing people to Jesus is the most important thing we can do, we should focus on not wasting any opportunity to do just that.
The fact of the matter is we often pray for opportunities to proclaim the gospel, when opportunities to proclaim the gospel are all around us, we’re just not making use of them. We’re like a person sitting in front of a table full of food saying “I’m so hungry, I wish I had something to eat.” If you are really hungry, eat the food that is on the table.
And if we really want to see the gospel spread, we should start by making use of the opportunities God has already given us. I’d encourage you before this day is through to write down the names of as many people as you can that you have contact with on a regular basis who are unbeliever; and then thinking this next week how you might use opportunities to point each one to the one and only Savior Jesus Christ. Living wisely means being purposeful in the way you live.
Secondly, living wisely means being very careful about the way we speak.
Paul explains, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
Words have power.
If we are serious about the spread of the gospel we’re going to recognize that the words we speak and the way in which we speak them is very significant and powerful, so we’ll be careful.
We’ll be careful our speech is gracious. That simply means we need to speak with unbelievers in ways that are kind, thoughtful, and helpful. It rules out making fun of someone, being sarcastic, putting someone down.
We’ll be careful our speech is “seasoned with salt.” When you season something with salt, what are you doing? You are making it tasty. Our speech as believers should be tasty.
We should especially work hard at doing this when we share the gospel. We can’t get inside someone’s heart and make them want to hear the gospel, but we should do everything within our power to present the gospel in a way that is easy for them to hear. I’m not talking about toning down the gospel. I’m just talking about the way in which we present the gospel. The way you say something can really have an effect on whether or not people hear it.
Once Marda bought me a book for Father’s Day on punctuation. Can you believe that? Well, this particular book on punctuation is actually a best-seller. I wanted her to buy it because I wanted to find out how this lady could write a book on punctuation that people actually wanted to read. There are thousands of books on punctuation out there that nobody wants to read. But somehow she seasoned her punctuation book with salt so that it was pleasing to people and easy to read.
We need to work on doing something like that with the gospel. We need to think about ways in which to present the message that make it easier for people to hear and understand. We need to think about what we say and how we say it and make the way we talk with unbelievers as pleasing as possible.
We’ll be careful our speech is appropriate. Part of the goal of continually forcing yourself to speak in ways that are gracious and pleasing is that by doing so you are preparing yourself to be ready to talk to anyone at anytime the way you need to. That’s what Paul is getting at when he says, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” We never know when we are going to have an opportunity to share the gospel or point people to Jesus Christ. Usually those opportunities come up at the most inopportune times. It could be at McDonalds when you are standing in line or when you are at the park or when you are in the grocery store. The only way we will be ready to share the gospel when opportunities do come up is if we have prepared ourselves for those opportunities beforehand by making a habit out of speaking graciously and seasoning our speech with salt.