May 3, 2021

Colossians 4:2-18

Passage:

Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. Don't forget to pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ, even while I'm locked up in this jail. Pray that every time I open my mouth I'll be able to make Christ plain as day to them.

Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don't miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.

My good friend Tychicus will tell you all about me. He's a trusted minister and companion in the service of the Master. I've sent him to you so that you would know how things are with us, and so he could encourage you in your faith. And I've sent Onesimus with him. Onesimus is one of you, and has become such a trusted and dear brother! Together they'll bring you up-to-date on everything that has been going on here.

Aristarchus, who is in jail here with me, sends greetings; also Mark, cousin of Barnabas (you received a letter regarding him; if he shows up, welcome him); and also Jesus, the one they call Justus. These are the only ones left from the old crowd who have stuck with me in working for God's kingdom. Don't think they haven't been a big help!

Epaphras, who is one of you, says hello. What a trooper he has been! He's been tireless in his prayers for you, praying that you'll stand firm, mature and confident in everything God wants you to do. I've watched him closely, and can report on how hard he has worked for you and for those in Laodicea and Hierapolis.

Luke, good friend and physician, and Demas both send greetings.

Say hello to our friends in Laodicea; also to Nympha and the church that meets in her house.

After this letter has been read to you, make sure it gets read also in Laodicea. And get the letter that went to Laodicea and have it read to you.

And, oh, yes, tell Archippus, "Do your best in the job you received from the Master. Do your very best."

I'm signing off in my own handwriting—Paul. Remember to pray for me in this jail. Grace be with you.

I wonder, what would happen if Christians took the Bible seriously? Check that, what if we took the New Testament seriously? Nope, wait, check that, what if we took Paul seriously? Nope, hold on, what if we took Colossians seriously? OK, fine, what if we just took this one little bit seriously, “Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.”?

OK. Fine. What if I took that little bit seriously?

What if I spent my life, my day to day, seeking to bring out the best in others in a conversation? What would it look like if I was gracious? How might my relationships change? How might those around me change? Is it possible that others might begin doing the same? Could one person seeking to do this create a butterfly effect?

Being gracious and kind and seeking to bring out the best in others in a conversation is not my normal bent. For much of my life conversations were games to win or lose. I hate to admit it but I had a mental record of wins and losses. In those conversations that I “lost” I would be looking for opportunities to “win” in the future. Everything was boiled down to the binary of win or lose.

As I continue to mature in my faith I am realizing that in Christ there is no “win” or “lose” there is only a continuing conversation. I want people in my life to keep talking, keep engaging, keep moving toward one another in love.

As I look at social media there are constant examples of people playing “gotcha” games and looking to win. But, there are few and far between who are seeking to simply be present and invite the conversation. I think that’s because the social media is not a medium that rewards the conversation. Social media is a construct that rewards the winner of the argument. The more divisive, the more cutting, the more snarky, the more sarcastic you are, the more likes and shares you get.

We live in a time when all that matters is winning for your tribe. This means that to bring the best out of the other in conversation is not a value and is actually a detriment to your social standing.

I have been thinking a lot about what Peter writes in 1 Peter 4:1-11 for the last week. He talks about the abuse people in the churches were taking because they were no longer participating in the rituals of idol worship. I have noticed that when people I respect try to change the nature of the conversation to one that is gracious and seeks to bring the best out they are mocked and often understood to be “fools” or “naïve.”

What do you think? Will you join me in trying to “Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.”? I’m going to try to take it seriously.

Are you in?