In these verses Paul speaks to us of the importance of being a conscientious Christian witness. He had asked the Christians in Colossae to pray that the Lord would open doors for the gospel to go forth, and now he directs all Christians to be outreach-oriented, holding out Christ to a lost world.

In verse 5, the apostle says, “Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of time.” By “outsiders” Paul means literally those “with out.” In Ephesians 2, Paul tells Christians, “Remember at one time you were separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”

Paul is reminding Christians that they are recipients of grace. They now belong to God through the Lord Jesus. They have a hope and a future with God forever. However, those who don’t know Christ do not. They remain under the judgment of God. 

Every soul is accountable to God. Every soul is accountable to God according to God’s standards. The Christian faith makes it very clear that sinful men cannot meet God’s righteous standards, and that the wrath of God is an inevitable, and just, response to that failure. Men may scoff at this, but this is what Scripture distinctly teaches.

In the world of men, it is the common belief that if there is a God, the accountability to him is on a relative scale. If you are good enough, or your good outweighs your bad, then God will accept you. The Scripture however, says there are none who do good; there is none who are righteous. By this, the Lord means according to his perfect standard, and that he sees in men what we do not.

Therefore, except God be merciful, men would perish. And except God be gracious, men could never be accepted by God. In Christ, God makes a way for men to be accepted, by way of promise. He declares all who come to Christ shall be accepted based on what Christ has done and not by their own works. This is why the gospel is literally “good news.” There is no other way to be accepted by God.

So when Paul tells Christians to conduct themselves with wisdom toward outsiders, he means consider their great need to know Christ, as your need was. Paul says, “making the best use of time.” The Scriptures commonly teach the shortness of life in this world, and to be wise you need to number your days. We are to understand time is in short supply.

Paul also means limited opportunities. Paul writes in 2nd Corinthians about all the sufferings and hardships he had endured in spreading the gospel. Yet he was quite willing to be deprived of comforts if it meant men would hear the gospel and come to know Christ. The loving apostle knew his time was short, and the men he was witnessing to had little time as well. Paul believed the gospel.

In verse 6 he says, “Let your speech be gracious, seasoned with salt, that you may know how to answer each person.” It is apparent the apostle connected gracious conduct with people asking about the faith of a Christian. Thus, he tells Christians to be prepared to answer people, and to speak with grace, meaning humbly, respectfully, as one who knows the Lord’s grace.

The disposition of a Christian is important. The apostle Peter also instructs Christians to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in them, but do so with gentleness and respect. Many people hostile to the faith have been won over by the humility of a Christian. Conversely, many have been turned away from the faith by a defensive or rude attitude.

Paul directs Christians to have their speech seasoned with salt. This carries with it the meaning of speaking the truth. Being gracious does not mean compromising or diluting the truth. Sinful people, estranged from God, need to know what he gospel says clearly.

When Paul was on trial for his faith in Acts 24, we see how gracious and respectful he was to the leaders and the crowd. Yet his discourse so plainly laid out God’s righteousness and the judgment to come, we read that Felix the governor, trembled at the message.  

All Christians should promote the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, whether it be by prayer, generous support of the church and missions, or personal character and witnessing. The aim is to bring sinners to the only way of salvation, that they may have eternal life in Christ.