A few years ago, Carol and I went to Phoenix, AZ, for spring training. We discovered a great deal of activity is going on all around us. On one field, the major league infielders and outfielders are going through their drills. On another field, the major league pitchers are running through their infield drills, covering first base or throwing to second or third base. Nearby, the game day pitchers are warming up with the catchers. Next to that area are the indoor batting cages. And that doesn’t even include the other fields where the minor league players are practicing.
The spring training complex is fan friendly and allows the general public to get up close and watch everything that takes place. People identify their favorite players and “ooh” and “ah” about their size and skill.
Dads are playing catch with their sons right next to where major league players are practicing. Children are sitting on their parents’ shoulders trying to catch a glimpse of the action.
In the midst of all this activity, one little boy was intently staring at the patch of ground in front of him. He exclaimed, “Hey, Dad. Take a picture of this dirt!”
There are times in life when we are just like that little boy. We are so obsessed with our own little worlds, so focused on our own little problems, and so consumed with our own little concerns that the rest of the world fades into the background.
In Colossians 4:2-6, Paul reminds us that we need to look up and maintain an outward focus. Rather than looking down at our own dirt, we need to keep our eye on the world. We need to be alert and look for ways to connect with nonbelievers. Rather than being oblivious to the activity around us, we need to recognize what is going on. Rather than sitting by passively, we need to take advantage of the opportunities we have to share the gospel with those who desperately need to hear it.
In this passage, Paul gives two instructions, both of which convey his deep concern to evangelize the lost. The community that God has called out of the world for salvation by the gospel is called in turn to preach that gospel; evangelism is the church’s vocation. The work of evangelism includes prayer (4:2–4) as well as proclamation (4:5–6). Paul exhorts us to pray for the church’s mission (4:2–4) and to be wise toward outsiders (4:5-6).
As Paul instructs in the passage, we need to watch and pray. We need to pray diligently (2a), intelligently (2b), thankfully (2c), and purposefully (3-4). We need to live with intentionality. Because the world is watching, we need to live wisely (5). Because the world is listening, we need to speak gracefully (6). We need to stop focusing on our own dirt and take advantage of the opportunities we already have to share the message of salvation with others.
In the passage, Paul gives six guidelines for sharing the gospel.
- Pray earnestly.
- Cultivate a sense of urgency.
- Act wisely.
- Be gracious.
- Be salty.
- Be prepared.
Rather than merely focusing on the dirt in front of you, keep your eye on the world. Watch and pray for opportunities to share the message. Live with intentionality. Because the world is watching, live wisely. Because the world is listening, speak gracefully. Let us pray that God would add to our number daily those who are being saved.
This is a brief synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church on April 28, 2013. It is part of a series of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.