Prayer, virtue, and wisdom: Devotional Commentary for August 11-17
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
4:1 Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.
Contextually speaking, the first verse of Colossians chapter four fits better at the end of chapter three where behaviors and relationships in a Christian household and work environment are addressed. Hence, reading Colossians 4:1 in light of Colossians 3:18-25, we observe Paul turning his attention to masters and slave-owners, after exhorting servants to be godly in their position as workers. Consistent with his earlier admonition to husbands and fathers, Paul urged those in charge to treat their servants justly and with fairness, not to be merely nice, but recognizing that God Himself is their own Master.
Paul issued his admonitions to masters of his time and those like them who exercised absolute authority over their slaves, or employees, or servants. One word from them and a slave could lose his life. But it should not be that way with Christian masters. Masters, especially Christian masters, must always keep in mind that their authority over the servants they own or manage is subject to God's Mastership over both masters and servants. In other words, the manner of their behavior toward servants must be reflective of their own appreciation of God's Lordship over themselves. They must always remember, while they are masters to their servants, they themselves are servants of God.
2Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;
3praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned;
4that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.
Having concluded his admonition to family members, servants, and masters, Paul now gives a general exhortation directing everyone's attention toward God. He urged each one to be committed and vigilant in prayer. Paul understood that prayer is the most fundamental line of communication between God and His children.
None of the behavioral transformations are adaptable without leaning on the Power of the Spirit of God from within. So Paul encouraged the Colossians to be devoted to prayer and be diligent in it. He urged them to pray with a thankful heart. Paul was sharing what he learned from his own experience. Even though he commended them early on for their faith and love, he still prayed for them without fail so they might mature in their understanding of God and His ways.
Paul was committed to prayer. His life and ministry were a life-long journey of prayer. As he encouraged the Colossians to pray, he also asked them to pray for him and his companions in ministry. He firmly believed in the value of praying for one another as servants laboring together for the cause of the Gospel.
Paul's commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ was quite obvious. That was the reason for his imprisonment and the Colossians probably knew that. So he asked them to pray with him and for him on two specific focal points. He sought their prayer support for more opportunities to preach the Gospel, perhaps in light of his confinement. But he also solicited prayer that he might preach the Gospel with clarity and simplicity, so his message might be well comprehended by the least among the lost.
Paul was earnest in his exhortation to pray and his request for prayer support. He was eager for the Colossians to mature in their daily walk as the living witnesses of God's redeeming Grace. He was anxious to reach beyond his prison cell and proclaim the mystery of the Good News of the Gospel which has already been revealed in Jesus Christ. He wholeheartedly desired to deliver the Good News of the salvation of the lost in plain words.
5Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.
6Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.
Paul's heartfelt longing for the Colossians and all believers can be summarized in these words. Be wise in how you minister to the lost, and, make the most of your opportunities. Everything you say should be gracious and well thought out so that the ministry to each lost soul would be fruitful.
We have already observed how Paul urged the Colossians to put on the New Man by maturing in godly virtues. He urged them to be compassionate, loving, forgiving, peaceful, and patient so that they deal with unbelievers in God's Grace and Love with godly wisdom. That is, the child of God ought to walk wisely in the world as godly as one ought to behave within the Body of Christ. Paul's earnest desire is that believers would walk in a manner worthy of their calling in Jesus Christ, bearing fruit in every good work.
It is very important that God's people realize that every ministerial opportunity must be carefully considered. Each opportunity is unique and special. What is said in one situation might not work under another circumstance. Words must be chosen carefully so that the true Gospel can be faithfully communicated at the right time to the right person, without distorting the Truth. One must mature in the knowledge of the Truth, be virtuous and seasoned with godly wisdom.
As Paul draws his letter to a close, he outlines some very important precepts that are essential to our Christian walk. These precepts focus on the distinctive virtues by which we can effectively relate to our Lord, each other, and the world in which we live and serve. While these godly virtues influence our behavior, the life and ministry of the child of God is unavoidably animated by a never-ending conversation with God our Father. That is what we call prayer.
Our prayers must be continuous and earnest, but truthful, honest, and thankful. Every thought, every motive, every gesture, every action, and every aspect of our behavior must be confessed in our conversation with God. If our prayers flow out of a heart that is continuously engaged in a meaningful conversation with our Lord, The Spirit of God will freely move and His Word will flourish in us, enabling us to walk with wisdom within the Body of Christ and among the lost in the world. The words we speak will be authored by the Holy Spirit Who convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.
Identified as the chosen, holy, and beloved of God in Jesus Christ, we are filled with the Grace of our Savior so that we might impart to others, by way of the godly virtues bestowed upon us, the Grace we have received. With a life of prayer and an attitude of thanksgiving, we forgive because we are forgiven. We love because we are loved. We give because we have received. We are compassionate and patient because God is forbearing toward us in Jesus Christ. Being praying, thankful, and virtuous children of Grace, we are called upon to be prayerful and virtuous, and to do everything as unto the Lord in unreserved obedience to our Father, God the Almighty.