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As the apostle draws his letter to the Colossians to a close, he is “thinking out loud” about the implications of the great good news of what Jesus has accomplished for the way we do life. Having asked for prayer for himself, Paul’s thoughts turn to how the Colossians themselves–and all who name the name of Jesus as friend and Savior–are to live in the light of the Gospel.

Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. (Colossians 4:5-6)

Two sentences, packed full of rich thought. A few ideas float to the surface in my thinking.

“Conduct yourselves with wisdom.” Literally, carry on your daily activities with wisdom. The reference is to the normal, everyday kind of living and interacting we all do–and doing all that with God-granted skill and insight about what truly matters.

“Making the most of the opportunity.” The sense is buying up precious moments of time to use them in the best way possible–it is the language of the market. Every moment we have with others is, in fact, just a fleeting moment. It will come and go whether we are attentive to the moment or not.

So, in the way we move through life day-to-day interacting with those who do not yet know the good news about Jesus, Paul is encouraging us to do so with insight and attentiveness to what is most valuable, realizing that every moment of time is precious and should not be squandered.

And what would that kind of living look like?

“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt.” Realize that in those moments we long to maximize, idle words and thoughtless remarks will only hurt the cause of Christ and obscure the good news. So every exchange, every word spoken, that comes from my mouth would best be carried along by grace, carrying the message of grace, conveying the grace of God that I have received.

“So that you will know how you should respond to each person.” In thinking this way–grace-seasoned words that make the most of every occasion to speak and share for the good of another–we will respond to others in the best possible way. With attentiveness to the preciousness of the few moments of exchange we have and the incredible value of communicating the grace of God, we will know how best to speak to each and every person we come in contact with.

It is a perspective that I find all too uncommon in my daily conversation. I have way too many random, unfocused, and purposeless exchanges. I think too little of how meaningful a particular moment just might be. I give little thought to how this person I bump into might just be waiting to hear the message of grace that comes from heaven.

And the moment passes. I did not make the most of it. I gave little attention to the one who is “outside.” My words might have been seasoned with humor or disregard, inattentiveness or socially accepted cordiality . . . but I realize that there are way too many moments when I wasn’t very wise, I wasn’t making the best use of the time,  I wasn’t really attentive to the one I was speaking with, I didn’t think much of grace or communicate much of it. And I leave the exchange wondering if I responded to that particular person the way Jesus would have wanted me to.

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