A Gentle Answer

Colossians 4:5-6

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

I think this passage is familiar to most of us … and its message is one of humility in our attitude and conduct.  Too often, I have seen Christians view themselves or project themselves to others as “superior” because they have come to a knowledge of the truth and believe that Jesus is the Son of God … sent to be our Savior, to redeem us, and to reconcile us to God the Father.  Sometimes they allow themselves to become filled with pride over their salvation … forgetting they did nothing to earn or deserve the unmerited kindness and mercy shown by God.  Salvation, at its core, is the most humbling experience a human being can undergo because we are utterly dependent on what God has done for us and there is nothing that we can add to it….  Salvation does not make us superior; rather, it makes us indebted to the One who gave us freedom from the penalty and power of sin.

That said … when we encounter other people, and especially those who are non-believers, Paul instructs us to be wise in how we act and speak toward them.  We are to approach others with the same attitude and grace as Christ Jesus:

Philippians 2:1-8 (NIV)

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage;rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Why is this important?  Why does Paul instruct us to be careful in how we approach seekers and non-believers?  Because we ourselves received Jesus Christ through faith … and this was not of our ourselves … it was the gift of God. (Cf. Ephesians 2:8).  It was the kindness of God that led us to repentance in the first place. (Cf. Romans 2:4) So we are to be kind to one another … compassionate … forgiving … just as in Christ Jesus God forgave us. (Cf. Ephesians 4:32) As Paul related to Timothy, the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, and not resentful. (Cf. 2 Timothy 2:24) So let our conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that we may know how to answer everyone.  This will equip us to make the most of every opportunity we are given to lead others to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ….

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!

The God of ALL Comfort

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

There is a great morsel of truth for us in this passage  The language (translation) seems a bit awkward at first, but when you break down the sentence, I believe it becomes clearer what Paul is trying to convey:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

No problem here!  We are to praise God the Father for God the Son….  It should be a continual action on our part.

the Father of compassion,

What does this mean except that compassion originates with God the Father Himself?  This is just as love originates with God Himself. So what is compassion?  How is it defined?  Merriam-Webster provides this definition for us: Sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.  Wow!  I like that!  God is aware of … God knows and understands … the distress of being “human” and His desire is to alleviate the distress we experience…. He has empathy; concern; sensitivity; tenderness; kindness; gentleness; and mercy toward us. 

Hebrews 2:14-18 (NIV)

14 Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels He helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason He had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV)

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,  Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

and the God of all comfort,

Yes, God the Father “feels” for us in our plights … in our hardships and sufferings … and He makes provision to comfort us.  The definition of comfort reflects that of compassion.  Whether as a noun or a verb, Merriam-Webster defines it as “the easing or alleviation of a person’s feelings of grief or distress.”  It means to console … but it also means to give strength and hope to someone; to encourage them and to cheer them on.  This is what Father God has given us in Christ Jesus….

who comforts us in all our troubles,

Note the extreme language that Paul uses in this verse: The God of ALL comfort, who comforts us in ALL our troubles.  There is nothing that God misses when it comes to the comfort you or I need in our trials and tribulations endured in life.  There is comfort for you and me in every situation … in every circumstance … in every time of need.  Our God of all comfort assures us that He is ever aware and ever present to help in our time of trouble (Cf. Psalm 46:1) Therefore, we are not to fear; but rather, we are to seek Him in our hour of need.

so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

As believers, we have first-hand experience of the comfort God has given us.  And the Father desires … God expects … that we will comfort others with the same comfort we ourselves have received from God.  Since we abide in Him and He is us, we share in the work of God.  Apart from Him, we can do nothing. (Cf. John 15:4-5)   Remember? We were created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Cf. Ephesians 2:10) And comforting other people in their suffering is among the works we are called to accomplish for the Kingdom.  Based on our personal experiences in life, each of us has a story … a time of trouble … that God brought us through. So now we have a testimony to share of the comfort God gave us in the midst of our own struggles, pains, sorrows, hardships, and challenges.  Just as God loves you and me and commands us to love one another with the same love we have experienced and know through Him; God wants us to comfort one another with the same comfort that we have experienced and know through Him as well!

So I hope we see the applications here from this verse.  I pray we will memorize it and incorporate it into our walk with God.  He is the God of all comfort.  He is the God of love and the God of peace.  (Cf. Romans 15:33; 2 Corinthians 13:11) And we know the peace of God, which transcends all human understanding … that it guards our minds and hearts in Christ Jesus. (Cf. Philippians 4:7) This is what we are empowered by the Spirit to do … to love and comfort others so that they might experience and know the peace of God as well.  This is our challenge this morning….  As Paul wrote: “In humility, value others above yourselves – not looking to your own interests but to the interests of others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”  (Cf. Philippians 2:3-5) This includes comforting those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  And in this context, comforting is ongoing – meaning we are to continually comfort others as we are continually comforted by God.  Amen.

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!