that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
Colossians 4:4 ESV
I grow extremely weary at times when I listen to people speak to one another. The stupefying of our culture is incredible to me, particularly so as I think of just how many information streams are available to most people in our culture. The amount of poignant, well-written (and well-shot in the realm of film), and thought-provoking information available to me on a daily basis is staggering. So much so that I have to be very conscious of how much I allow myself to digest in order to have enough of my day left to do the other things I need to do.
But many people, sadly, seem content in their ignorance. Now, I am not limiting intelligence to the realm of books and scholastic ascendency, I do believe people are uniquely gifted and where someone might be able to outline a chapter from Dostoevsky, another might be able to diagnose and fix an ailing transmission. Both of those require intelligence, the manifestation is the difference. I’m speaking of those who are happy to tread water in the pool of indifference and wait on someone else’s current to move them along a little so the scenery changes every now and then. This type of person speaks differently, acts differently, and has a loose set of convictions that they’ve heard about but never thought through. It is perhaps this last thing that frustrates me most about many of my Christian friends.
To give context to the verse above, Paul was asking the church in Colossae to pray for him. But not just that his life would be better, or that he would get out of jail and be able to come and go as he pleased. Paul was asking this church to pray that while he was in captivity, or anywhere else for that matter, he would be able to speak to those he came in contact with clearly and understandably. He wanted the penmanship of his tongue to be legible to anyone who might try to read his words. This was, perhaps, not just an idle request by a man who could talk with the best of them. Peter, in one of his letters, said this:
And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
2 Peter 3:15-16 ESV
Peter indicates here that Paul might not always have been the easiest guy to understand. Maybe he talked over people’s heads, maybe he used odd illustrations, maybe his vocabulary was a bit out of reach. If you’ve read Paul then you ought to be able to attest that at time he has the ability to lose you in his logic. So Paul wasn’t just casually offering a backhanded compliment to himself, as some prayer requests can tend to be (pray for me friends, I find myself read the Bible way too much, I need help!), he was honestly asking for the Lord’s help in allowing him to speak clearly.
How does this track with what I began talking about regarding the dumbing down of our culture? It has to do with what Paul wanted to say. Paul says this in the preceding verse:
At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—
Colossians 4:3 ESV
He couldn’t fathom dumbing down the message. He was convinced that opening people’s eyes to the “mystery of Christ” was the answer for the lost souls he would encounter. He knew that it was the mysteries that Jesus opened his heart to when He blinded the Pharisee’s eyes on the road to Damascus that had recalibrated Paul’s entire existence. The deep things of God. The grandiose ideas of the Gospel would change men’s heart by the power of the Holy Spirit, but they had to understand the message.
Today friends, I wonder if we could take care to do two things. First that we would be dedicated to learning and growing and expanding our understanding. I can’t remember the last time I’ve heard a full political speech. I hear soundbites and snippets that prove the case of whoever is playing them, not the entire idea of the individual presenting them. We don’t seem to have time to sit down and entertain an idea, mull it over, and then work through the implications and applications. It’s time we got more than soundbites each day.
Second, that we would be dedicated to clarity in our speech. That we would ask the Spirit of God to help us say things in ways that people would understand, and without negating the understanding we have gained. I believe that there are segments of our culture that are anxious to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ, but their ears are tuned to certain cultural frequencies and their understanding has, in turn, been darkened.
May we be anointed by God to offer the deep, profound, and eternal truths to the hungry, hurting wanderers. I encourage you to make this a part of your prayer today.