2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; 3 praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; 4 that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.
5 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. (Colossians 4:2-6)
Paul, in his Epistle to the Colossians, makes an interesting request, that they “pray that God will open up to us a door for the word“. He had been commissioned by Christ to be an Apostle and missionary to the Gentiles, but he doesn’t take it for granted that there will always be open doors for him to proclaim the Gospel. He had tried to go to Asia in Acts 16:6-10, but God had prevented him from going there, and instead, redirected him to Macedonia. God slammed one door shut while opening another door in a different place.
You may be thinking, “Yes, but Paul was an Apostle, so what does that have to do with me?” Well, in a word, EVERYTHING, because the Great Commission has been given to ALL believers in ALL places and at ALL times. Have you forgotten that the “ordained-ones” can’t be in all places at all times? Even if they could be in all places at all times, they may not have to right “skill-set” that is needed to be able to come alongside a particular person. A father, who has had sick children, is much more able to come alongside a person with a sick child than someone who is childless. Likewise, someone who is a divorcee is much better able to come alongside someone who is going through a traumatic divorce than someone who had been happily married to their first spouse for many years. Compassion comes with experience, and no, those are not made-up examples. They are opportunities for ministry I have had quite recently.
You may now be thinking, “But what am I going to say?” Paul answers that question with; 5 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.
I can tell you from personal experience that I have never been at a loss for words when I have been confronted with one of these situations. You may be thinking, “But Steve, you are a pastor and Bible-teacher.” Yes, I am, but that doesn’t make me anything special. What is really required is having a heart for people and being open to letting God speak through you. Even though this speaks of persecution, the promise is still good because Jesus gave it:
12 “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. 13 It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. 14 So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; 15 for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. (Luke 21:12-15)
We don’t know the situation we are going to face beforehand, but God does, and He can equip us to have the right words at the right time. God has already heard their unspoken plea for help because he knows their heart. Another thing that we must always keep in mind is that these are “divine-appointments“. There are no “coincidences” with God.
I don’t go looking for ministry opportunities. Rather, God places them in my path as I go about my daily activities. What is important is that we must be open to ministry opportunities when they occur. That brings us full-circle back to Colossians 4:3, except that I am going to reword this verse to apply it to us, you and me…
“Pray that God will open up to me a door for the word, so that I may speak forth the mystery of Christ.”
Are you prayerfully open to God using you to come alongside someone who needs God’s healing Word?