The Character of the Christian
I pray that you have a fantastic week and the sermon last week made an impact on your life.
You may remember that last week I said that our Christian character is shown in the way we live out our lives.
I remember some years back that a person told me and I am sure that you have probably heard this as well, that maybe you will be the Bible that someone will see. What that means is this, if you are living in the way that Jesus speaks of, the way God intends us to live, then a person can and will see God through your life, through your character.
WE are back in Colossians chapter 4, if you would open your Bibles to Colossians chapter 4, and let me know when you get there by saying amen.
In the last few weeks we have been discussing Christian character and how we live our lives, has an impact on the people around us, either for the Kingdom of God or against the Kingdom of God.
Jesus said to us in John chapter 13
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
Another translation says it this way:
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."
What is Jesus talking about? The same thing the Apostle Paul is speaking about, in our Scripture over the last few weeks our Christian Character.
Weather you believe it or not people are always judging you, and even when you don’t think people are paying attention, there’s someone who sees what you are doing, how you are acting, hearing what you are saying, watching your expressions on your face or your gestures as you are driving.
Your character goes a long way.
I remember last year we were taking our grandkids back to Michigan and we stopped at Cracker barrel to eat dinner. They had been in the car all day long and we want have a sit down meal. As we were there, eating our meal, an older gentleman walked up to us and said I was watching you and your children when you came in and I want to tell you that it is refreshing that you are teaching them to pray and that they are the best behaved children I have ever seen.
I see people all the time praying for their food, and often I will go up to them and tell them thank you for being that example for others.
People see things that we never think that they would for example at my secular job I have a picture frame that you place a SD memory card into it and it does a slide show of all your pictures, I have people telling me about the slide about pictures. People watch us all the time how we react to things and what happens most of the time is our character, out true colors, are shown.
The Bible says that: “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person”.
In the last couple weeks we have been talking about the message that the Apostle Paul has sent this young church in the form of a letter that he wrote while he was in prison.
Can anyone tell me why Paul was put in prison?
He was arrested beaten, and put in prison because of being a Christian, because of preaching the Gospel.
So he is writing the Church in Colossae about the problem they were having with false teachers leading people astray because They needed more than what Jesus has. And there are places and people today who think like that today.
So the Apostle Paul takes the opportunity at the end of his letter to teach about Christian Character.
In the past weeks we have said That it is our responsibility as Christians is not only to KNOW Jesus, but also make Him KNOWN to the world.
And we said that in order for us to accomplish this we must first know Jesus, but not just know him, but have a relationship with him.
Then the second step of to make Jesus Known to the world comes by the way of Prayer and listen our prayer develops our character.
How the way we live is a form of evangelism towards others. Our lives and the way people view us as people are for one side or the other, either our character and values show others that we are for God, or our character and values show that we are against God.
There is no in-between, there is no middle of the road. And because of these false teachers in the church Paul explains that we are to be watchful in prayer- being spiritual awake for the things to come from God. And to be spiritually awake for things that the enemy is doing.
In an active church the devil is always around doing something, contaminating someone, making people mad at each other, trying to break apart what the people of God are doing.
Paul says We are also to be thankful in prayers, to be thankful for Jesus dying on the cross and for what God is doing in our lives in and out of the storms, right now and we are to pray that God opens a door so that while still we are in this prison, in the storms, in the problems we can still advance the gospel, where we have an opportunity to share what God is doing right now in our lives and tell others how great even in the trail Jesus is.
And then last week we talked about the two rules when presenting the Gospel from our character, it comes from verse 4
The first rule is to Speak with clarity
Paul says “that I may make it clear”
What is it that he wants to make what clear?
He wants to make clear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the way Paul puts it is, That he wants to make it clear as he declares the mystery of Christ.
The second rule is to speak it because that is how we ought to speak.
Paul says That I might make the Gospel clear which is how I ought to speak.
It is the speech that should continually come from us.
When I think of this verse, I think of two people that I the last few years that I have come across that really exemplify these two rules, one is the old pastor here, Milton McBride and the second is Brother Ron Owens. They both spoke with clarity about Christ Jesus because they knew it was the way to speak. Brother Ron could take any conversation and turn it into talking about Jesus. You would pray for him and lay hands on him and before you knew it he was praying for you through the wisdom that God had given to him.
A modern day example.
But, The Apostle Paul has given us some instructions on how we should behave, what our character should be like.
If you are there read with me in Colossians chapter 4 verses 2-6
2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Today I want to spend a little time with speaking about verse 5:
Verse 5 really gets to the heart of the matter when we are talking about, telling others about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul says 5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.
The NASB version of the Bible says it this way:
Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders making the most of the opportunity.
What are we being told?
The first thing I want you to see is what is what the word “walk” really means in the context of what Paul was saying.
Walk the Walk
In the Greek meaning of the word Walk it means literally to go here and there walking, to tread all around and this is meant most commonly in the NT as the meaning to conduct ones life (the Christian walk) , to order ones behavior, to behave, to make ones way.
In Col 1:10 Paul had prayed that the Christians at Colossae would
"walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." (Col 1:10 -note)
Listen when you are walking in the a manner worthy of the Lord (of wise conduct) , when you are walking the Christian walk, when you are walking in the will of God – three result happen from walking the walk/.
(1) It is Pleasing to God,
(2) You are fruitful for God …John 15:8 Jesus tells us…”By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples”.
(3) There is Growth in the knowledge of God.
Paul is writing here about the practical aspect of how we walk the walk and talk the talk.
And that is our Big Idea today
The Big Idea is: We are to walk the walk and talk the talk
He explains how we are to "walk" before others, how we conduct ourselves.
So Paul says to WALK in wisdom,
and this phrase is placed first in the Greek for emphasis. Literally "in wisdom conduct yourselves".
The Word Wisdom is used 6x in this letter and each time it means that we are to have the ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on knowledge and understanding that we have from God.
Another words we have Biblical wisdom can be defined as living our Christian walk.
Wisdom is being able to take what God has revealed to our hearts and applying it in given situations, in a practical way.
Wisdom is the ability to properly apply the knowledge to each situation.
The wisdom that The Apostle Paul is speaking of, in this situation is toward outsiders, this literally means those outside a door and outside the doors. Often I refer to the Mission field as being outside the doors of this church.
Remember the reference that Paul is using here Paul is in prison, he wants to communicate, he wants to preach, he wants to spread the gospel to those who are outside of the doors of where he is, so he is telling the new church in Colossae too do the same, to go outside of the doors of the church where the people need the Gospel the most.
The unsaved are outside the family of God, and God has assigned us the privilege to be His ambassadors to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom God. You see Effective witness involves walking wisely, having that Christian Character, being alert to every opportunity, and being careful in what we say and how we say it.
1st Peter 3:15 says: “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”
Here Peter is saying don’t beat people up with the Bible when they ask you why are you a Christian, People get stuck on the words to make a defense, but we are tell them about the hope with respect and handle it with wisdom.
We have to remember that those who are outside of Christ are without Christ, they are without Hope, without Peace, without forgiveness.
There was a time that we all were like that without the hope of Jesus Christ, The Bible tells us in EPHESIANS 2:12
“Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world”.
We were like that:
Look at verse 5 again: Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.
We are to walk in Wisdom- showing our Christian character – towards those who are outside of Christ, while we are making the best use of our time.
Making the best use of our time means to take advantage of any and every opportunity that should present itself, or that comes our way to speak the Gospel.
John MacArthur says the Phrase making the best use of your time:
"Has the basic meaning of buying, especially of buying back or buying out. It was used of buying a slave in order to set him free; thus the idea of redemption is implied in this verse. We are to redeem, buy up, all the time that we have and devote it to the Lord. The Greek is in the middle voice, indicating that we are to buy the time up for ourselves—for our own use but in the Lord’s service.
Paul also writes the church in Ephesus to tell them:
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is”.
We are being told to seize and use every opportunity to carry on our Christian witness, because these are evil days, In some languages it is necessary to specify what is involved in every opportunity. “every time you can do something good you should”
What Paul is saying to us today?
He is saying everything you do counts, your Character as a Christian is important and with our new lives in Christ it should be devoted to Christ and His works.
And when the opportunity presents itself we should seize the moment to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Galatians 6:10 tells us “as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people”
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time”.
Wisdom is the ability to properly apply the knowledge to each situation.
Outsiders are those who are outside of the family of God. Those who are outside the doors. Those who are without God
Making the best use of your time- Seize the moment.
Buy back the time- and tell others through your Character, life and word about what Jesus Christ has done for you.
Maybe you are here today and you are outside of covenant of God, you have never accepted Jesus as your Savior, it is Ok. I was there once to, you have a great opportunity today to change your future and become a child of God I invite you today to that, The Bible tells us that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart the God raised Him from the dead you will be saved.
Today is you opportunity- today you are not outside the doors but rather inside the doors now is the time to seize the moment, won’t you come today?