A Study of Colossians 4:5–6
Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. (Colossians 4:5–6)
In Colossians 1:9, Paul lets the saints know that he is praying for them to be “filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding”, and here he is exhorting them to walk in this wisdom. In chapter 2, Paul tells them of his striving for them to know “the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2–3). Later, there is a warning against falling prey to man’s “philosophy and vain deceit” (Colossians 2:8), and then he goes on to tell the riches of being complete in Christ.
Now the saints are exhorted to walk in the wisdom that they have, specifically toward those that are without, toward those that are not saved. We are not to waste time, but to redeem, or buy up all the time. This means to make the best possible use of the time that we have, and we do that by walking in wisdom.
For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:8–17)
Here, in Ephesians, we see of what walking in wisdom looks like. Paul tells them to walk “circumspectly”. This word has a literal connotation of “looking around”, with the idea of being aware of ones surroundings to make the proper choices in our walk. This was the word that the translators of the A.V. thought best to translate the original Greek word ἀκριβῶς (akribōs), which is elsewhere translated diligent(ly) and perfect(ly). This is walking with a well-ordered and purposeful walk, and not a haphazard walk. We are to walk “understanding what the will of the Lord is”, and we understand His will by knowing what He has revealed. He has made known to us the secret of His will, so it is now no longer a secret (Ephesians 1:9), and we can find it by reading what He has revealed to us, specifically what He has revealed to us through the apostle that He sent to us, Paul. That is not to say that we ignore the rest of Scripture but that we understand the remaining body of Scripture in the light of the “revelation of the mystery” (Romans 16:25).
This particular aspect of walking in wisdom toward those that are without has a further instruction regarding our speech. This is connected to walking in wisdom. Going back to Ephesians, it would be speech without “filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting” (Ephesians 5:4). But rather than talk about what not to do, Paul says what our speech should be. It should be with grace. Not just kind and whimsical talking with those that are without, but what the content of our speech should be. We are to fill our speech with God’s grace. Remember all of the following:
Being justified freely by His GRACE through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus… (Romans 3:24)
By Whom also we have access by faith into this GRACE wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2)
That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might GRACE reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:21)
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under GRACE. (Romans 6:14)
To the praise of the glory of His GRACE, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved. In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His GRACE… (Ephesians 1:6–7)
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by GRACE ye are saved;) (Ephesians 2:5)
That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His GRACE in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by GRACE are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:7–9)
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and GRACE, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began… (2 Timothy 1:9)
Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the GRACE that is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:1)
For the GRACE of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men… (Titus 2:11)
That being justified by His GRACE, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:7)
Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with GRACE; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. (Hebrews 13:9)
Remembering all this, we speak with grace to those “within” and “without”, because the GRACE of God is where we begin. Do not be surprised that the unsaved would act unsaved. It is not our job to reform them, but to preach the gospel, preach the cross, and preach the word of reconciliation. Our “reproof” of the unfruitful works of darkness is the absence of fellowship with them. We do not partake of the unfruitful works of darkness, and that is convicting enough. But we speak and glory in the GRACE OF GOD, not preaching a probation officer, or a sin management program, but a SAVIOR. And the words we speak, whether to those within or without, are with grace:
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister GRACE unto the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29)
So what about the seasoning with salt? What does that mean?
The seasoning with salt indicates the preparedness of the words of grace that they would be ready to be partaken of. The only thing that is left is for the recipient to sit down and dine. The saint needs to be prepared to speak grace to the sinner so that the sinner need not add anything else to the “meal”, but to just partake.
The grace of God is not cheap, but to you it is given freely, by the offering up of the Lord Jesus Christ of Himself. He did this for you when you were at your worst.
But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Don’t turn away from this gift by GRACE by delay or refusal. Don’t try to pay for it or earn it. Accept it by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who loves you and died for you.
[The righteousness of God] shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4:24–25)