“Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunities. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone.”
Colossians 4:5-6 (NET)
Evangelism, a word that strikes fear in the heart of many believers! I love these verses in Colossians which remind me that God calls me to befriend those who do not know Jesus and just use the opportunities that God opens as I love them. We need to view them “from the clouds.” In fact, I read recently that the way to evangelize the younger generation involves including them in our groups and loving them first; then, they listen to our words. We just need to be ready to take advantage of that opportunityJ Part of being ready involves praying like Paul.
Read Colossians 4:2-4.
1. List Paul’s instructions on prayer.
The NET Bible translates the first instruction “be devoted.” The verb “is from proskartereo, a compound word made up of kartereo (‘to be steadfast,’ or ‘to endure’) with an added preposition that intensifies the meaning. The verb means ‘to be courageously persistent, to hold fast and not let go.’”15
2. How do these other verses relate to this idea?
a. Eph. 6:18
c. Rom. 12:12
3. How does thanksgiving relate to the concept of persistence in prayer (Col. 4:2)?
When our prayers aren’t answered as we hope, it may be that we are praying wrongly.
5. Sharing question: Over what heartfelt prayer have you lost hope of ever having an answer, or at least wonder whether God hears? Is there a way to change the prayer so that the request focuses on God’s kingdom priorities—the view from the clouds?
6. Responding to God: Pray the request that you have written in kingdom terms.
Read Colossians 4:2-4.
In 4:2 Paul gave instructions for prayer in general; then, in 4:3-4 he shared his own requests, asking the Colossians to intercede for him, praying for him before the Father.
1. What do you learn about praying for those in ministry from Paul’s request?
2. What did Paul mention in passing about his circumstances?
I find it amazing that Paul’s prayer request did not focus on a change in his circumstances. Instead, he focused on kingdom priorities, as we saw in yesterday’s lesson.
3. There were times when Paul requested prayer for his circumstances. Read Phil. 1:19-26. Although he did mention their prayers for his deliverance (v. 19), that was not his focus. What was Paul’s focus in these verses?
4. Sharing question: In what situation are you or a family member in right now where you can change your focus from relief out of the situation to kingdom purposes in the midst of them?
5. What are some kingdom prayers that you can pray for a pastor, minister, or missionary in light of Paul’s prayer request and concerns?
6. Responding to God: Pray those prayers. Write them down and tell the one for whom you pray them what you are praying.
Paul’s prayer request in 4:2-4 focused on reaching those outside the faith; then, he continued his thoughts of reaching those who needed to hear about the good news of Jesus.
Read Colossians 4:2-6.
1. How did Paul suggest the Colossians reach out to those who did not know about Jesus?
2. How do these verses relate to Col. 4:5-6?
3. Sharing question: Describe one opportunity that has opened up to you with a non-Christian. Did you make the most of it or not? Explain.
4. How do we speak with grace and season it with salt (4:6)? What does this picture of seasoning say to you about what you say to outsiders?
5. Responding to God: Pray for one particular person with whom you have a relationship at work or school or in your neighborhood. Pray for the opportunity and gracious and seasoned speech. Write out your prayer. You may want to make this your prayer request for your small group this week.
Read Colossians 4:7-18.
1. Who took this letter from Paul to the Colossians? How would you have felt if the apostle entrusted such a letter to you? Why?
2. From Paul’s greetings and his comments, what qualities would you say that Paul valued in others?
3. Sharing question: This is your last week to be with your small group for this study. Go through the list of women in your small group and write down one quality of each one that you appreciate.
4. Sharing question: For what would you like to be remembered by others after you are gone? During the next year in what quality would you like to grow? Why?
5. Responding to God: Write out your prayer or poem that details the person you would like to become by the grace of God.
Because you are going to use the study time tomorrow to think through what God has done through this study, I am placing the story of the week here. Just remember that you aren’t through with this week’s work! Tomorrow should be a great encouragement as you think through God’s work in you through this study.
I have been in vocational Christian ministry for 32 years. For 7 of those years, as a single woman, most of my time was spent in ministry to both believers and unbelievers. But, after I got married and had children, I found that being a wife and mother consumed most all of my time. I was involved in the ministry of my church, but was mostly in contact with believers. My feelings of being insulated from unbelievers only increased when my husband moved into the pastorate. My whole world, outside our home, was the church.
I knew the Lord wanted me to put myself in an environment where I could meet and develop friendships with people who did not know Him. My husband and I started praying for how the Lord wanted me to get connected with unbelievers. His answer for me was through the school system. During their school years, our children were in both public and private schools. They both went to public high school in a town that had only one large high school. The Lord led me to start volunteering there. My husband and I decided how much time each week I could spend in volunteer work. I made sure my availability was made known to the people in charge. Due to the difference in my children's ages, we had kids in high school for 7 consecutive years. I started volunteering when my daughter was a freshman and continued until my son graduated. Over that 7 year span I got to know the majority of the faculty and staff at the school. I got to communicate the gospel to people who did not know the Lord as well as encourage those who did. I even had the opportunity to develop a ministry with high school coaches' wives that lasted for 5 years.
The key to all this was prayer for guidance and then intentionally putting myself in an environment where I was continually around unbelievers. The outcome was being blessed by getting to know and minister to people I otherwise would have never met.
6. Sharing question: How can you better position yourself, as Kay S. did, so that you have the opportunities to share your faith with those with whom you have relationship?
Spend some time reviewing the book of Colossians. Read it if you have time. Review the table of contents of this study on p. 6.
1. Sharing question: What one truth about Jesus in Colossians is most meaningful to you? Why?
2. Sharing question: In what one way has God changed you through the study of Colossians?
3. Responding to God: Write your prayer of thanksgiving to God, focusing on what He has taught you and done in your life during this study.
15 MacArthur, 179.