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God’s Word for You

Colossians 4:5 The Moment

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, October 5, 2019

5 Walk wisely regarding unbelievers, making good use of the moment.

Paul doesn’t often talk about a Christian’s conduct toward outsiders or unbelievers. This verse stands out in its double focus. First, “Walk wisely,” which is to say, entirely within the sphere of wisdom. Don’t be foolish around unbelievers. Why not? An unbeliever may take away the wrong idea, thinking that your foolish behavior is a testimony to the foolishness of the Christian religion. This is not in the least the kind of foolishness Paul means in 1 Corinthians 1:23-25, nor is the wisdom Paul mentions here the kind of wisdom he describes in those same verses. This is true wisdom, unavailable and unreachable by the unbelieving world. Be wise in how you act, wise in how you speak, and be wise even in how you think about unbelievers. When you meet someone for the first time, think to yourself, “If he doesn’t know Jesus yet, how might I best show my faith? If I am not brave enough to share the message of the gospel, how can I at least model the way that a Christian will behave?”

All of this will lead to the second focus: making good use of the moment. “Moment” is kairos (καιρός). Often it means the precise moment, the best time, or the right season for something to take place. This is the word used throughout the Greek translation of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8: “A time to give birth and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot plants (etc.)” (Ecclesiastes 3:2 EHV). Also, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of trouble” (Proverbs 17:17 EHV).

In fact, Paul’s words here in verse 5 read very much like a proverb, utilizing the kind of parallelism (known as synthetic) in which the second line continues or expands on the thought of the first line, as in Psalm 23:1. “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing” (EHV). The “wise walk” or conduct of one’s life looks for the right moment when faith can be shared, demonstrated, or explained. The serving-girl of Naaman the Syrian did not harangue her master about the Law of Moses, but when the right moment appeared and he contracted leprosy, she quietly said to his wife, “I wish my master stood before the prophet who is in Samaria, because he would cure him of his leprosy” (2 Kings 5:3 EHV).

Another example is in Genesis 13, when Abraham must separate himself from his cousin Lot because of a dispute between their servants (Genesis 13:5-9). There we see Abraham operating as God’s representative in all three estates, the church, the home, and the government. He works as God does, for the good of all those in his care (Romans 8:28). Abraham shows his patience as he waits for the right moment within the church, because Lot and his family were the only other believers in the true God; they were the other half of the holy church in Canaan at that time. To be separated would be a cross to bear, since God lovingly commands and invites us to gather together and not be separated from one another (Hebrews 10:25), but in Genesis 13, to remain together might cause a deeper rift between the groups than mere physical separation, and so time apart was the wise choice until they could be instructed further and for tempers to cool down. The same is true of Abraham’s decision regarding the second estate, the family. In order to keep families together in a loving way, there sometimes needs to be distance when mature family members have a competing business. For the sake of love and to avoid unnecessary competition or hard feelings, distance is a wise choice, as long as we keep coming together as a family to remember our mutual love and care for one another. Finally, as the Patriarch who was in every way the State at this time (the third estate of man), it was necessary for the simple keeping of the peace among the hired men and their families to separate the groups. Assuming there were unbelievers among their herdsmen, this also preserved their lives while the examples of Abraham and Lot would lead them to seek the Lord. This is why God caused people to live all over our world and not just in one place, so that “they would seek God and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, ‘Indeed, we are also his offspring’” (Acts 17:26-27 EHV).

So whether you make good use of the moment to share your faith now, or make good use of the moment to keep a door open for a chance to share your faith later, walk wisely regarding the unbelievers in your life. You or someone else might be just the missionary that they need—and the gospel of Jesus Christ is certainly the message that they need to hear.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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