Walk in wisdom toward the unsaved

Devotional thoughts for the month of December 2019

(Click here to read Monday Musings ... where I discuss the thinking that led to this article.)

“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” (Colossians 4:5–6)

Have you ever met a fire-and-brimstone Christian? … one whose job it is to warn unsaved people about God's imminent judgment? Such Christians season their speech with ash, not with salt — but don’t get me wrong: since countless people are condemning themselves to a fiery hell by merely ignoring God, a little ash is in order! But this wasn’t the tone that Paul used in Colossi. In fact, he warned the Colossians to speak graciously so that people might receive their words more readily.

We Christians walk a thin line. On one hand, we should be winsome people... friendly, engaging and kind. But on the other hand, we should not give the impression that we approve of sinful behavior. So, here’s where we are: we need to affirm our human-to-human bond with other people. This is very important. But we need to warn them of their imminent danger. This is more important... I mean... what good is it if unsaved people feel all warm and fuzzy in our presence, only to find destruction at the end of the day?

So, although our foaming-at-the-mouth brethren might close people off to the gospel for a season, that is better than velvet-gloved brethren implying affirmation... and missing an opportunity to share the gospel. Here’s the thing: unsaved get more resistant to God’s wooing over time, and we may lose the very people we are trying to love into the kingdom. So, how should we proceed? We should proceed by faith. After all, we have been saved through our faith... so it only makes sense that we should live by faith too.

But make no mistake: God’s grace came first. He is in the business of drawing people to himself — and that is such an advantage in soul-winning! Our unsaved friends probably sense that we have a connection with God. So, well-tempered communications — combined with a congruent lifestyle — can help our unsaved friends see that there is something true in all this God business.

Now, I have a list of sins that I particularly hate — and I could go on about these all day long! But I need to proceed prayerfully before debating these in the presence of unsaved people. They may already be under conviction — and perhaps God will give me the go-ahead to speak about these someday. But sin is only half of the issue. God's redeeming work is the other half. So, we should shine the light of the gospel primarily... while we condemn the darkness profoundly.

So, let me ask you; what do you think of the Apostle Paul? Do you think he was loving, or do you think he was abrasive? Well… we know his desire was to become all things to all men that he might win them to Christ — and he used every means to be the most winsome proclaimer of Christ that he could be! But when evil workers sought to divide the flock, he let it fly... yet of some others, he washed his hands. But of all, he prayed that they might be reconciled to God through the blood of Jesus Christ.

So note this well: real love risks speaking the truth... and Paul both taught the truth and spoke the truth... and he did so with wisdom and with grace. In this, we have our model.

(Mainsail Ministries articles often have a preamble where I discuss the thinking that went into them. These are called Monday Musings — and if you haven’t read the one associated with this article — consider doing so at the following link: 20191125 Walk in wisdom toward the unsaved).

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