In his letter to the church in Colossae, the apostle Paul issued a series of commands to that church. In chapter three, he addressed wives, husbands, children, fathers and slaves before turning attention to masters, in chapter four. These two chapters were all about holy living and Christian conduct.
Notice the kind of language that he used:
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things (3:2)”; “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature… (3:5)”; “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with… (3:12).”
Those of us who call ourselves Christians need to realize that God holds us to a higher standard. Christians ought to look different. We need to conduct ourselves well, while we wait for our Lord’s return.
The church at Colossae had its share of problems, but no more than any other first century congregation. They needed to live holier lives; they needed to live a life worthy of their calling. This message was emphasized over and over again throughout the epistles of Paul:
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1),
“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10),
“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).
Peter also taught the same thing:
“But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15–16).
The Apostles understood what it meant to be ‘called’. They understood how blessed they were to be the people of God; to be the forgiven people of God. Now they were trying to help all Christians understand this. This is very clear from the language Paul used throughout the letter to the church in Colossae.
When we come to Col 4:2-6, Paul gives further instructions. He started out in verse two by saying, “Devote yourselves to prayer.” Other translations say, “Continue steadfastly in prayer.” Prayer should be a very big part of a Christian’s life. It is not something we should neglect to do. It is communication with the Creator. It is sharing our cares and concerns with our Heavenly Father.
Remember this: prayer was designed for us, not for God. God does not need our prayers. Prayer is designed to help us realize how much we need God and depend on Him. God knows what we need before we ask Him. Before we put our thoughts into words, God knows what we will say. But more importantly, he knows what we really need. God is only a prayer away and He wants to help!
Every time we pray, whether we realize it or not, we are declaring the existence of God and our dependence upon Him. Prayer is by its very nature an act of faith. The difference between prayer and wishful thinking is faith in God and the conviction that he wants to help!
So, Paul told these Christians to devote themselves to prayer. He understood how important prayer was to the Christian life. He added to that, “…being watchful and thankful.” Some translations say, “…be alert and be thankful.”
We need to be careful to have the right frame of mind when we pray, thankful and alert to this very important duty. Which raises the question; are we grateful people? Do we understand the blessing and the privilege that God has given us by not only allowing us to come to Him in prayer but urging us to do so?
Paul asked the Colossians to pray for him (vs 3-4) because prayer makes things happen. Christian prayer calls on the power of the one who created us. Paul understood this and that is why he asked the Christians at Colossae to pray for his work. This great apostle had preached fearlessly in the face of violence and disbelief while God had worked wonders through his hands. Yet he asked for for prayers or ‘ordinary’ Christians that he might preach clearly and effectively. He knew that God is the one who grants success and that God would hear their prayers on his behalf.
Are we thinking of others and praying for them? Or do our prayers rarely extend beyond our own little world? Do we want God to ‘get onside’ with our desires, or do we pray for power to do his will?
In verses five and six, Paul turned attention to non-believers. He instructed the church to be wise when dealing with them and especially when preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their good behaviour would give credence to a message urging repentance and obedience to God. And one of the first things that people observe about us is what we say.
Here is what he said in verse six,
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
I wonder if perhaps the Apostle Paul had once said something to a non-believer and ruined an opportunity to preach the gospel. Had he learned from his own experience or that of others? Either way, he asked the Colossians to pray for him that he might proclaim the mystery of Christ clearly. This ought to be our prayer as well
As Christians we always need to conduct ourselves wisely, especially around non-believers. We need to speak to them gracefully so that they might see Christ in us and be attracted to the truth. We need to make the most of every opportunity that God gives us because we might only have that one time to plant a seed and leave the right last impression.
Summing up, the apostle Paul instructed Christians to:
*Devote yourselves to prayer or continue steadfastly in prayer. Do not neglect to talk to your Heavenly Father and pray to Him often. There is power in prayer!
*Be watchful or alert in prayer and be thankful. Do we truly understand the blessing and privilege of prayer? Are we thankful for this way of communication to the Creator?
*Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders. You may only get that one time to make a good first impression or better yet, win them to Christ.
*Let your conversation or speech always be gracious and seasoned with salt. CEV “Be pleasant and hold their interest when you speak the message. Choose your words carefully and be ready to give answers to anyone who asks questions.”
Colossians 4:2-6 gives proper weight to the importance of Christian conduct. It may help or hinder the further advance of the Gospel, upon which the souls of men and women depend. As scripture, Paul’s instructions set a permanent standard for Christian living. It is really up to us then to heed what is written; to share the mystery of Christ with those who are lost and to pray for those spreading the gospel. May Christ live in us, shaping our conduct and leading others to Him.