Colossians 4:5, 6
Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.…
We have here some suggestions as to -
1. THE CHRISTIAN'S RELATIONSHIP TO THE WORLD. It is implied:
1. That he is to be distinct from the world. To him all "men of the world" are, in character, aims, pursuits, to be as "them that are without." There is to be a contrast between him and them as between those who are "within" and those who are "without" the assembly of the righteous, the Church of the loving and the pure. But it is taught:
2. That he is to have intercourse with the world. This is in contradiction to the Colossian heresy of asceticism, and in contradiction, too, to the pietism that some sects affect in England today. "Walk in wisdom toward them that are without." This is the very opposite of walking away from them, in separation, into seclusion. Indeed, on this point we notice that seclusion from the world is:
(1) Impossible. Even those who shun the social and political life of the world are drawn into its commerce very willingly, and in their best moods into its philanthropy also.
(2) Undesirable. It leads either to bigotry, as of the Pharisees, or to fragile life, as of hot house plants.
(3) Unlike Jesus Christ. The streets, the cities, the houses of men, and of sinful men, their feasts, and their funerals, were frequented by the Holiest, who has left us an example that we should follow in his steps.
3. What is to mark the intercourse of the Christian with the world. Two directions are given:
(1) "Walk in wisdom." This is more than knowledge, more than discretion. It is a right use of knowledge, of the knowledge of God and of man. In that element of godly thoughtfulness a Christian man is to move.
(2) "Redeeming the time." In the time you spend with men, buy up the time and make the best use of it for themselves and for you. No squandering of anything so precious as their time and yours is to be permitted in your intercourse with men. Thus it is taught the Christian must have to do with the world.
II. THE CHRISTIAN'S CONVERSATION WITH THE WORLD. It is to be distinguished by "grace," pleasantness of the highest sort - "salt," pungency of the truest kind. In a sentence, we may say the influence of his conversation is to be good.
1. Because it is to be persuasive. The higher form of "grace," Divine acceptableness, may be implied here. The other form of it, human convincingness, is certainly indicated. For this it must be appropriate,
(1) as to topic,
(2) as to time,
(3) as to manner.
2. Because it is to be distinctive. Not talk of tasteless insipidity, making no impression, but conversation as clear and definite in purifying influence as Christ meant the disciples themselves were to be when he said, "Ye are the salt of the earth." "Certain it is," says Jeremy Taylor, "that as nothing better can do it, so there is nothing greater for which God made our tongues, next to reciting his praises, than to minister comfort to weary souls. And what greater pleasure can we have than that we should bring joy to our brother, who with his weary eye looks to heaven and round about, and cannot find so much rest as to lay his eyelids together? Then thy tongue should be tuned with heavenly accents, and make the weary soul to listen for light and ease. This is glory to thy voice, and employment fit for the brightest angel. I have seen the sun kiss the frozen earth, which was bound up with the images of death and the cold breath of the north, and then the waters break from their enclosures, and melt with joy, and run in useful channels. So is the heart of a sorrowful man under the discourses of a wise comforter. He breaks from the despairs of the grave; he blesses God, and he feels his life returning. God is pleased with no music below so much as in the thanksgiving songs of rejoicing, comforted persons." - U.R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.