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Seasoned With Salt

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:2-6 ESV)

Paul asks the Colossian Christians to pray that he might declare the mystery of Christ, making it clear, as he ought to speak. We sometimes miss the crucial link between prayer and making Jesus known to others. Witnessing begins with prayer. First we pray for another person, and often God gives us opportunities to pray with them before we speak to them about Christ.

Praying with people - out loud - when they have a worry or fear or felt need is a witness in its own way. There's something about speaking to the Father together in Jesus' name that makes Him real in the midst of the prayer.

So before speaking to someone about Jesus, it's always best to be speaking to Jesus about the someone.

Paul then urges the Colossians (and us) to walk in wisdom toward outsiders - non-believers - making the best use of the time. And what is the best and wisest use of time in approaching a non-believer with the truth of the Gospel? Love them. Make a relationship with them. Relationship is the bridge over which Jesus moves from one life to another.

Stop and think a moment. Right now in your life, how many of your friends are fellow believers in Jesus Christ, and how many of them are non-believers? We instinctively make friendships with people with whom we share common interests and beliefs. Over time, it is not unusual for a Christian's friends to be mostly Church friends - fellow believers. After all, we share a love and passion for the same most-important-thing: Jesus.

But Jesus calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Mark 12:31) That Great Commandment is not restricted to the persons we sit beside at Church. It includes our actual neighbors across the street, to the left and right of our house and across the back fence. It includes our coworkers and fellow students. It also includes the least, the last and the lost. So being a good friend and building strong relationships builds trust to share the most-important-thing in our lives. Make a friend. Be a friend. Bring your friend to Jesus.

Paul then encourages the Colossians (and us) to "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." Words matter. Gracious words, seasoned with salt, have a much better possibility of getting past walls and lowering defenses in the other person. When a non-believing friend trusts you enough to spill out their worry over an upcoming surgery or their grief from the recent loss of a loved one, a loving friendship offers the opportunity to ask a simple question like, "Have you been praying about this?", listen intently for their answer, and then entering into an honest conversation about how God can make a difference in a situation like this.

One thing is for sure: speech that judges another person's failure to believe what we believe is neither gracious nor seasoned with salt. "Jesus can help when we're faced with a difficult thing" is a much more gracious starting point for a faith conversation than "If you'd just give up drinking all your problems would go away." The "turn or burn" approach to witnessing is pretty much assured to raise the defensiveness of the other person, rather than giving the opportunity for a conversation that might lead to faith.

One of the most powerful things any believer in Jesus has to share with a non-believer is a testimony - sharing the story of how God answered a prayer or intervened in our lives in some undeniable and life-giving way. So it seems to me that one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves in preparation for sharing the truth about Jesus with someone who does not yet know Him is a simple one: "What has God been doing in my life?"

Thinking about and noticing and remembering and even rehearsing the telling of the stories of what Jesus has done in and for me is great preparation for gracious, seasoned-with-salt conversations with someone who needs the hope that Jesus might do something in their life. The story of how God healed you can encourage one who is battling an illness. The story of how God answered a specific prayer can open the door for a friend to pray and trust that God might help them, too.

One such story of faith is the story of how you came to put your faith in Jesus Christ. What was life like before you trusted Jesus? What did trusting in Him look like in your life, whether it was a sudden, dramatic conversion like Paul had on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), or a gradual, opening up of your eyes like the two disciples experienced on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24)? And what has life been like since you entrusted your life to Jesus? This simple, three-part story of your conversion can be used by God as a witness when the moment is right in a real relationship with a non-believing friend.

Many of the people around us who do not yet know Jesus will simply never come to worship at church to hear the Gospel. We must make the Gospel known to them through our friendship, our love and our speech that is gracious and seasoned with salt. Every believer in Jesus is called to be a proclaimer of this great good news. So what's your story?


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