Speech is a powerful tool that God has given to man. How we use that tool can either build someone up or tear them down in a minute. Daily, we encounter people who may not be the kindest individuals. Many are unbelievers. Do we snub them? Do we hate them or treat them as "less than"? Are we concerned about their salvation? Do we feel superior because we have truth and they don't? How we answer those questions is important because the Lord wants us always to be wise in our actions and speech with believers and non-believers as well.
In writing to the Church in Colosse, Paul, the Apostle, wrote these words concerning our conduct towards those outside the faith: "Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person" (Colossians 4:5-6). Paul is right. We need
wisdom towards those we meet who may not share our conviction that Jesus Christ is Savior. Our faith is more than just believing in the Lord, it also requires a change in our lifestyle. Where before, we might have made fun of someone or treated them unkindly, now we are called upon to treat them with the love of Christ. Why? Because our conduct speaks volumes to those who know us to be Christian and watch our actions to see if they line up with our words.
This is especially true for those of us that work outside our homes. In our case, we have a family business. We meet all types of people every day. We see our focus as one of service, professionalism but also one of extending kindness and care even if the other person doesn't react that way in return. No one knows when someone comes into your store or business what has just happened to that person on the way there. Perhaps they are a caregiver for a sick spouse or a recent widow. This forms how they might respond to others. This is why we need godly wisdom every day so we may know how to respond instead of react to others. It is human nature (the sin nature) to snap back at someone who has just snapped at us. However, if we use words of grace, seasoned with salt, we might win that person over and open the door for further conversation in the future. Many people come to accept Christ because of a relationship with a Christian who lives their faith in both speech and actions.
I recall a story that Corrie Ten Boom shared in a talk she gave. She had been traveling all over telling others about what she and her sister experienced in the concentration camps and how Christ sustained them. At one meeting, Corrie said that a person there came up to her and told her that he had been a guard in the concentration camp where she had been held. This person had become a Christian and asked Corrie to forgive him for playing a part in her nightmare. She was stunned and in herself she did not want to forgive this person. However, as she struggled within, she knew that the Lord would want her to forgive this person. She was able, by God's grace, to extend a hand of forgiveness to this person even though it was the hardest thing she had ever done. God helped her with her actions and her words.
Kind words, a friendly smile, and an effort to reach out to someone does not cost us anything. When we share this with those outside the faith instead of criticizing them, we will have opened a door for further communication and a chance to perhaps share our faith. However, when we act like the world, we close a door that might not open again. Lets watch our speech and conduct ourselves with wisdom around family members, co-workers, friends and neighbors who may not share our faith in Christ and see what the Lord does in opening up opportunities. We are God's ambassadors and as such, we must be careful how we conduct our lives for many are watching. Selah!
Have you been able to encourage someone who is not a Christian? How has God used you?