A living letter: Part I
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Earle E. Ellis stated, “The world’s Bible is the daily life of the church, every page of which its quick eye minutely scans, and every blot on which it detects with gleeful and malicious exactness.” Essentially, Ellis is attempting to illuminate for us that our lives, your life if you are a Jesus follower, are the Bible that the world reads. And the world is reading, those in your company and who cross your path. Every page of your life is being glanced over, every detail under scrutiny. In addition to what they “read” is what you say – the audible version of your life.
Our talk and walk make up the book of your life, this living letter that others are reading. What does it reflect? As people read your life story in real-time, what story does it tell? In your Facebook posts, your Snaps, your Reels, your life decisions and your job, how you interact with your spouse, how you treat strangers, what you do when everyone is looking, and what you do when you think only the Lord is looking?
Now, the B.C. part of your life (Before Christ) might tell another story, but that’s not my concern today. If you read Colossians 3:5, Paul describes what happened to that chapter of your life and how we turn the page. There it shares, “Put to death whatever is earthly in you..” We put those old life things away and, as Colossians 3:12 and the following verses describe, put on the things that are from above.
However, for believers, we should know and understand this in our new, Christ-following, God-honoring, grace-saved lives: as a follower of Christ, your story – your walk and your talk, ought to reflect an increasingly consistent Christian character and witness.
Our talk should be increasingly consistent with our walk, and both should grow increasingly and progressively into the likeness of Jesus Christ. You are a living epistle, a living letter: what others hear and see in you should point them to Jesus Christ.
So, here’s the question: how do we do this? Colossians 4:5-6 give us a template on how to match our walk and talk, and for our life to look and sound like we are followers of Christ – and for that walk and talk to become clearer regularly. There, it reads, “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (ESV).
This template could be summarized with two phrases: walk wisely and talk graciously. We’ll get to talking graciously next time, but let’s consider walking wisely.
Paul uses the phrase, “walk in wisdom.” It’s important for us to note that this wisdom is God’s, not man’s. James 3:17 shares that wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and sincere.
Wisdom enables us to determine just how, in a given situation, our new way of thinking or our new set of biblical values should be implemented. Wisdom is the correct application of knowledge. In Colossians 4, the scripture informs us that we should “walk in wisdom.” We should live our lives on biblical wisdom.
That means you have to acquire wisdom to apply wisdom. You have to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, immersing yourself in the life of Christ, putting on the new man, all phrases used throughout Colossians. And then, as you acquire wisdom, you apply wisdom. Wisdom is the way we, as believers, are to walk. And divine wisdom results in a positive witness.
One way we apply God’s wisdom is by taking advantage of God-given opportunities. There’s a Latin term, “carpe diem,” which means “seize the day.” It’s a Latin sentiment, but even more so a biblical principle, particularly in relationship to opportunities to evangelize nonbelievers. We apply wisdom when we make the most of every opportunity to live out the good news of the gospel. We make the most of the time when we live out the good news of the gospel.
Time is a nonrenewable resource. Every day, God gives us 1,440 minutes to be spent by us and us alone. We have to spend it. We can’t save up some of today’s time for tomorrow. Once it’s gone, it’s gone; it can’t be recalled.
We have none of yesterday’s time left over for today. We invest each moment of each day with something, even if it’s only idleness. And one way we apply God-given wisdom is when we take the time to share the good news of Jesus Christ.
Just like a merchant or shopper seizes a bargain when they find one, a Christian should seize the opportunity to win a soul to Christ. Are you seizing opportunities to promote and proclaim Christ, or are you shying away from those opportunities?
If you are shying away from these chances, you’re not making the best use of the time; you’re wasting your time. Wasted time is not wise time. But walking in wisdom is never wasted time, but making the best use of the time.