Live wisely among those who are not Christians, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right answer for everyone. - Vs 5-6
In chapter 3, Paul urged us to "keep seeking the things above" and to "set your mind on the things above." Now as further proof that Paul is not encouraging some kind of heavenly-minded disengagement from the world, he tells us to watch our walk and our talk among the unbelievers with whom we live. So we are to keep seeking the things above, but to conduct ourselves wisely when it comes to our interaction with the lost here on earth. The kind of wisdom Paul is talking about is a heavenly wisdom. It comes from above. And we discover it by seeking the things above. Solomon said it this way:
For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. – Proverbs 2:6
So the kind of wisdom we need to live our lives alongside an unbelieving generation comes from God Himself. Earlier in chapter 2 of Colossians, Paul had told them that he wanted them to "have full confidence because they have complete understanding of God’s secret plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:2-3). So the more we know Christ, the more access we have to the treasures of wisdom and knowledge we need.
Over in the book of James, we read about earthly wisdom versus heavenly wisdom. James flatly states that earthly wisdom is demonic. It's characterized by bitter jealousy and selfish ambition. But heavenly wisdom looks differently. James says, "If you are wise and understand God’s ways, live a life of steady goodness so that only good deeds will pour forth. And if you don’t brag about the good you do, then you will be truly wise!" (James 3:13). According to James, the wisdom that comes from above is "first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no partiality and is always sincere" (James 3:17).
So how are we to conduct ourselves among the lost? With wisdom. And what is the source of that wisdom? Jesus Christ Himself. How do we access it? By seeking the things above. By spending time in the Word. By getting to know more of Christ, so we can respond like Christ. Why is this so important? So that, as the New American Standard Bible translates verse 5 of Colossians 4, we will be able to make the most of the opportunity. So we will know how to respond to each person. To be able to give them the right answer, seasoned with grace. Grace is "that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm; loveliness: grace of speech; good will, loving-kindness, favour." That kind of response is NOT of this world. It is not natural. It is not normal. It is from above. And it only comes when we make the things above our highest priority.
Jesus told us that the world would hate us just as it hated Him. We are aliens and strangers here. This is not our home anymore. We are citizens of a new kingdom. But we still have to live here and God expects us to live as ambassadors of His kingdom. We are to be His representatives here on earth, extending His grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness to all those we meet. We are to love the unlovely, share the good news of the gospel with the condemned, share the forgiveness of God with sinners, and exhibit the wisdom of God among a people who desperately need a word from God.
Father, I want to live my life here on earth with wisdom. Your wisdom. I know I can only find that wisdom in Your Son and I get to know Him better through Your Word. Help me to keep my attention focused on Him. Help me to remember that He sits at Your right hand in heaven. That is where my focus and attention needs to be. So that I can respond to each person I meet here on earth with a right answer, seasoned with grace and filled with love. Amen