COLOSSIANS-SERIES NR 16
Colossians 4: 2-6 > Spirit-controlled life & tongue
When one has been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ and has become a new creation, it WILL have a definite effect on your daily life and behaviour and conduct. You can and will never be the same as before. And your life and attitude and behaviour will definitely be different to that of people who have not been born-again.
That in a nutshell is what Paul is explaining in this chapter.
As the Gospel-message opens to us and turns our lives upside down, it will have practical implications. We began to look at that before when we studied the preceding chapter.
It continues in chapter 4. And the chapter appears to be only a couple of unconnected instructions: Do this and do that. But it is not so. It is dealing specifically with the way a Christian-believer TALKS. Yes, all 6 of these verses are about this one matter: The Christian’s mouth. The tongue. The way the Holy Spirit influences one’s mouth and tongue when He takes over the steering wheel of your life. Let us take a look.
Imagine a sailing boat with a nice strong wind in the sails. The sails are filled and the yacht cleave through the waves and fly over the water with ease.
That is how it is with a person who is filled/controlled by the Holy Spirit. Someone who is completely sold out to the Lord Jesus Christ. You have absolutely got the Spirit of God in your sails. And it has an effect in the way you SPEAK. Speak in three directions: Speak to God and speak to people and to yourself. As simple as that!
The Apostle Paul knew very well what speaking was all about! He himself was not very well-spoken (2 Cor 10: 10) but it did not deter him one bit!
Because there was something that was laid upon his heart! From Above! A compulsion! A burden was laid upon him. And that was to preach the mystery of Jesus Christ everywhere and at every opportunity! This Gospel-message that was so obscure to fallen man – particularly due to the fact that non-Jews who are in Christ are also now included into God’s nation – had to be revealed to them by Paul, that they could understand the unsearchable riches of the salvation in Christ and come to faith. He continually looked for more and more opportunities (open doors) to speak, to share Christ with people. So much so that he landed in prison. He is sitting in Rome, locked up under the Emperor’s guard, not because he did something wrong, but only because he was so passionate about Jesus!
The effect of the Holy Spirit’s grip on one’s life is therefore, that you SPEAK.
1 A Christian-believer speaks firstly to the Lord himself (verses 1-4)
The Bible calls this kind of speaking “prayer”. As the Spirit of the Lord God lays hold of your heart, your tongue speaks with the Lord first. It is a priority for all Christians, because the Spirit controls them and that is why the Apostle mentions it first. If you and I are Christians at all, prayer will be a priority.
There is certainly lots to be said concerning prayer, but the Holy Spirit leads Paul to lift out only a few essential points.
Prayer is a very difficult thing to do. The fallen nature of man (the flesh) simply digs in its heels. The flesh would rather die ten deaths before it will spend time in prayer. You can be in your car stuck in the traffic and your fallen nature will do ANYTHING rather than to spend that time in prayer. Or you can lie awake in the middle of the night and think about all kinds of things or get up and make coffee or read a book or toss around over and over – but pray … not a chance! A Christian feels the real conflict between light and darkness nowhere so severely than when he/she becomes passionate about prayer, and the flesh – the sinful fallen nature – is putting up resistance.
Commit yourself to spend half an hour, or an hour or two in prayer, and the enemy starts an attack. Your thoughts wander all over the show, the phone rings, the dog starts barking, the cat falls into the fishpond, you become sleepy, etc.
Add to that the huge effort it takes to speak to One whom you cannot see and who does not reply in audible voices. All you have open in front of you is an ancient book, the Bible and what you read there is His speak-to-you. But you hear nothing and feel nothing. It feels just like a monologue! After 10 minutes you are tired and can find nothing more to say. It is much nicer to surf the internet, or just to sit and do nothing! It is 1000 times nicer to do ANYTHING else but to pray!
The Apostle knew and experienced all these things himself, but yet he says: Keep on and on and on with prayer and do not give up. The perseverance and persistence is what is so supernatural and it reveals how it is the Spirit of the Lord that encourages one to persevere. Because it can never come from man himself. NEVER!! It is supernatural. It definitely comes from Above.
Gratitude also cannot come from man! Because the fallen human nature is in principle inclined to be negative, morose and querulous, and SELF takes credit for everything. But the Lord turns it about and creates gratitude. Gratitude for everything and in everything.
And add to that watchfulness. That is an important aspect of the tongue that speaks in prayer! Watchfulness means to be alert for specific matters that needs prayer – instead of being vague and unfocused. One can think about Jesus who asked the blind man: “WHAT EXACTLY is it that you want me to do for you?” Watchfulness means to always be on the look-out.
The third aspect concerning prayer – apart from perseverance and gratitude and watchfulness – is intercession (verse 3).
Paul does not hesitate to ask people straight-out to pray for him and his ministry. And he would not have done that if he was not absolutely convinced that intercession was the will of God and that it “worked”!
On the one hand Paul knew that God was sovereign and does what He wills and that He can open doors for Paul to preach the Gospel-message when and where He decides – with or without prayer.
But on the other hand the Apostle depends on the Colossians for intercession about it!
The Lord therefore chooses to execute His Divine Plan and use the intercession of people in it. How it works, we do not know. But we are sure of one thing: We must never say that prayer is not needed because the Lord is sovereign and will in any case do what He wants.
That is why Paul makes an appeal to the church in Colosse: Please pray for me – for open doors for the Gospel-message, but also that the Lord will help me to proclaim the message as clear and distinct as possible. Because the compulsion has been laid on me. A burden has been placed upon my heart.
2 Secondly, the believer does not only talk to God, but also to other people (verses 5-6)
The Holy Spirit leads Paul to point out three specific aspects: 1 The believer speaks with people who are not yet Christians, 2 speaks with grace, and 3 wisdom and insight.
1 THE BELIEVER SPEAKS WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT YET CHRISTIANS > MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY >> It is an irrefutable truth: Where one has hope in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit directs your life, you are always on the look-out for opportunities to share the Gospel-message with people. And such opportunities come your way almost daily. It comes your way by itself. And the Apostle says: Make the most of every opportunity. SPEAK to people about the hope that lives in you. But do it with wisdom and insight.
2 SPEAK WITH GRACE > “Seasoned with salt”. Salt prevents decay. In the same way, a Christians’ speech should be a blessing to others. Always. And it should even have a cleansing effect in a decaying world. Is it not wonderful what positivity we can achieve merely by what we say? Also by what we say on Facebook in what we post! And by what we say to ourselves in our thoughts. Our thoughts are continuous TALK! We are often in the shape (and illness) which we are in as a direct result of what we say to ourselves. We often lie to ourselves. We speak what is in conflict with the Word. And in that way we land ourselves in bad spaces.
Think about this: If I can make the list in Phil 4:8 my own, and can speak to myself only what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy – then I will definitely never have psychosomatic illnesses and the minimum stress and anxiety. If my self-talk can be filled with the Word and be under the guidance of the Holy Spirit – my entire life will be different. But then I will of course have to read the Word often and get the content of the Word into my spiritual bloodstream.
Do you understand why Scripture put such an emphasis on the TONGUE, on words? Because God himself chose to communicate by words. And words can create life. If we live under the control of the Spirit, we have the ability to create life in others through our words. Because the GOSPEL we speak creates life!
Translated by Marthie Wilson