This Sunday school lesson covers Col 4:1-6. The first verse picks up where the last verse from Col 3 left off. The remainder of the passage deals with three essential aspects of good Christian conduct: your prayer, your walk, and your speech. Before we get into these three, we’ll look at verse 1. With good Christian conduct, you should:
Remunerate servants – Col 4:1 – to remunerate is to pay an equivalent for a service. Masters should not use the service of their servants without “just and equal” compensation. When a person works, his employer is obligated to pay his wages on pay day, Deut 24:14-15. To not do so is oppressive and fraudulent, Lev 19:13. It is robbery. If a servant is defrauded in this matter, the Lord will avenge him, 1 Thes 4:6. If he does not avenge him here, he will avenge him in the hereafter at the judgment seat of Christ, Col 3:25. Masters have a Master in heaven to whom they will give account.
Pray for preachers – Col 4:2-4 – Paul said, “Continue in prayer.” In Lk 18:1 Jesus said, “Men ought always to pray and not to faint.” In 1 Thes 5:17 Paul wrote, “Pray without ceasing.” And when you pray, pray with thanksgiving, Phil 4:6-7, and giving thanks for all men, 1 Tim 2:1. Praying with thanksgiving is vital to your prayer.
Paul specifically said, “praying also for us.” He needed their prayers. In Rom 15:30, 2 Cor 1:11, and Eph 6:18-19, he requested prayer from the Romans, Corinthians and the Ephesians. He wanted them to pray that the Lord would open a door of utterance, Eph 6:18-20. And he requested prayer because open doors are accompanied by many adversaries, 1 Cor 16:9.
Prayer for preachers of the gospel is particularly important at this time. Many are no longer preaching the truth. Those who are preaching the truth may receive the same treatment as Paul, who was “in bonds.” Your prayers for preachers must include prayers for missionaries.
Paul wanted to make the mystery of Christ manifest, “as I ought to speak.” Some preachers are not conscious that there is a way we ought to speak and there is a way we ought not to speak. We aren’t smooth talking liars, who want everyone to like us, Lk 6:26. And we aren’t belligerents, brow-beating people into subjection, 1 Thes 2:4-8
Walk in wisdom – Col 4:5 – “toward them that are without.” We must be aware of our testimony among others around us, as in 1 Tim 3:7. In Acts 6:3, the men chosen to help with serving the widows had to be men of “honest report.” In Gal 6:10 we are to “do good unto all men.” By this means we can have opportunities to minister the gospel. Build relationships with lost people so you can lead them to Christ. Be a cut above the rest of society. God’s people should be the best.
Paul said, “redeeming the time.” In Eph 5:16, we redeem the time “because the days are evil.” We don’t know how much longer we’ll be able to preach the truth. To date, we have been able to lead “a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty,” 1 Tim 2:1-2. But that may not be true much longer. So, redeem the time.
Speak with grace – Col 4:6 – In Titus 2:8 Paul urged us to use “sound speech, that cannot be condemned.” Speak the truth. Don’t speak regurgitated news. You don’t know whether what you are repeating is a rumor, a lie, or a fabrication. It is rarely, if ever, the truth. However, the Bible is always true. So, speak that. And when you do, make sure your speech is “seasoned with salt.” Salt makes things savory. Sometimes, the truth hurts. And for some, the gospel is not savory.
Paul wrote that we must “know how to answer every man.” This takes wisdom, discretion, patience, practice, and learning. Work at it so you’ll know how to answer.
Jesus knew how to answer every man. His opponents tried to catch him in his words and couldn’t. But he caught them.
When they brought Jesus the woman taken in adultery, he didn’t answer them; he wrote on the ground, Jn 8:1-11. When he did speak he said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” They left without another word.
When they questioned his authority to cleanse the temple, he asked them to answer a question about the baptism of John, Matt 21:24-27. They couldn’t. So, he didn’t answer their question.
When they asked him three questions in Matt 22, he answered them succinctly and truly. They could only marvel. He said nothing that they could use against him. When he asked them about Ps 110:1, concerning how David could call his son, “Lord,” they couldn’t answer him. They quit asking him questions altogether.
According to this verse, we “ought to answer every man.” Peter wrote, “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear,” 1 Pet 3:15. And when you give your answer, “speak as the oracles of God,” 1 Pet 4:11. A person’s soul may be at stake, Jas 5:20.
Conclusion: These days, as much as in Paul’s day, Christians need to pray for their preachers and other preachers who are still preaching the truth. Walk in wisdom redeeming the time and be conscious of maintaining a good testimony. And speak with grace so that gainsayers may be convinced and others may be saved.