Prayer, Death, and Marinades
Colossians 4:2-6 – 2 Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah—for which I am in prison— 4 so that I may reveal it as I am required to speak. 5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the time. 6 Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.
Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it…
There’s so much truth in these five verses. So much convicting truth. I know I’m not devoted to prayer like I ought to be. I’m not alert like Jesus told the three on the night he was betrayed, “Watch and pray, so that you will not fall into temptation.” (Matt. 26:41, Mark 14:38) There’s a devotion to prayer that also requires a watchful alertness – so that we’re not easily led astray by every wind of doctrine or tactic of the enemy.
Prayer must also be done with thanksgiving. Too often I’m simply bringing my list of needs to God, not truly thankful for who He is or what He’s done, and the things He’s answered already.
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders…
In relationships, we must walk in wisdom – to have Christ’s attitude – in every relationship to maintain the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom. (Prov. 1:7) Paul calls them outsiders – those not a part of the family of God. They are watching how we live our lives.
… making the most of the time.
Our time is short. The Lord is coming back, and death is a certainty. In Crazy Love, Francis Chan tells a powerful story to illustrate the frailty of life.
“As a pastor I’m often called upon when life ‘vanishes like a mist.’ One of the most powerful examples I’ve seen of this was Stan Gerlach, a successful businessman who was well known in the community. Stan was giving a eulogy at a memorial service when he decided to share the gospel. At the end of his message, Stan told the mourners, ‘You never know when God is going to take your life. At that moment, there’s nothing you can do about it. Are you ready?’ Then Stan sat down, fell over, and died. His wife and sons tried to resuscitate him, but there was nothing they could do – just as Stan had said a few minutes earlier.
I’ll never forget receiving that phone call and heading over to the Gerlach house. Stan’s wife, Suzy, was just arriving home. She hugged me and cried. One of her sons, John, stepped out of the car weeping. He asked me, ‘Did you hear the story? Did you hear? I’m so proud of him. My dad died doing what he loved doing most. He was telling people about Jesus.'” (p. 46)
Our time is short. We can’t forget that.
…to speak the mystery of the Messiah…Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt…
So we must communicate our words and actions with grace – graciously – seasoned with salt. Not blurting out the first thing that comes to mind. To season a steak takes time – marinading takes time to get the right flavor. So also our words should be marinaded – seasoned – thinking before we speak – devoted to prayer before we speak – careful to say what God wants us to say, but not compromising the Gospel. Paul never did that.
And here’s where I think there are two real dangers that we often fall into:
1. Thinking that seasoning equals compromise. It certainly does not, nor does it equal fear or lack of boldness. It’s all about wisdom – the fear of the Lord.
2. On the other hand, there’s a temptation to convince ourselves that we’re seasoning or marinading our words, when we’re actually doing nothing, using seasoning as an excuse for remaining silent. I think that’s a real temptation in our evangelical culture that has silently and perhaps unknowingly adopted the principles of tolerance, though we often excuse it as and confuse it for seasoning.
Lord, help us be devoted to prayer, to stay alert and give You thanks in all things. May we be constantly aware of our own frailty and the shortness of life. Help us in our interactions and relations with those who don’t know You. Give us speech and actions that are seasoned with salt. That we might proclaim boldly the mystery of the Gospel with outsiders. And in our effort to maintain seasoned speech, guard us against apathy, silence and fruitlessness.