2Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
How do we live as witnesses for Jesus Christ? The task of evangelism often seems overwhelming to me. I want to be faithful. I want to make an impact. But I often feel inadequate or unsure of how to be the best witness to those around me. That’s why I love Paul’s simple witnessing formula in these verses.
Pray Boldly. Devote yourself to prayer. Make prayer a priority. Pray with an awareness of what is going on around you and with thankfulness for all of God’s blessings. Pray for open doors for the message of the gospel, for yourself and for God’s workers around the world. Pray for boldness and clarity in sharing the gospel when an open door presents itself. Begin the day saying, “Lord, use me today. Help me to be aware of the opportunities around me. Help me to see people as You see them.” It is only in yielding our lives to the Spirit of God, that we are empowered and guided as His witnesses (Acts 1:8).
Live Wisely. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders. There is not a “one size fits all” approach to evangelism. Jesus approached people in different ways depending on who they were and the context in which He met them. In sending out His disciples on their first mission trip, Jesus told them to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16b). Think. Be discerning. Be creative. Know your audience. And though you never compromise the message, you do adjust your approach to someone based on who they are and where they are in their understanding of God. As Paul says regarding his own missionary strategy, I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some (1 Cor. 9:22b).
Speak Gracefully. Let your speech be always full of grace. No exceptions. We always speak the truth encompassed by, surrounded by, encased with love. We are ministers of reconciliation not condemnation. The truth of the gospel may offend but our attitudes and actions never should. I shudder when I see what is often done “in the name of Christ” or “as a witness for Christ.” Without love, the boldest of evangelists is just a clanging cymbal making irritating noise to an increasingly uninterested world.
We speak with grace to open people’s ears and we season our conversation with salt to discern people’s hearts. In other words, Paul is saying, “Be gracious in your speech and find ways in your conversations to talk about biblical truth, praise God, or honor Christ.” Nothing heavy, just a good seasoning to make thirsty people inquire more. Notice the last phrase, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Gracious speech, seasoned with salt, opens doors for further conversation.
Lord, help me to pray boldly, live wisely, and speak gracefully today!