‘Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.’ (v5) Colossians. 4:2–6
We’ve looked long and hard at our responsibilities as God’s ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20). Paul here lays the foundations for all God’s ambassadors; prayer and witness.
Disciples serve as God’s visible and tangible expression on earth. How we face challenges, handle relationships, establish boundaries and treat others all reveal the values we’ve adopted. Indeed, the first view anybody gets of Christianity is their observation of its followers.
The Christian community can easily defend itself against criticism, but when it does will it make friends or confirm suspicions? It might be wise to pause and listen. Of course, some criticism is unwarranted and intended to damage the Christian claim. However, much of it is worth listening to since it reflects individuals’ experience of the Church.
While leading a church for 18 years, I always talked to visitors. Their most common criticism was that the church was unfriendly. During times of meet and greet over coffee, the committed church members studiously ignored newcomers and invested in their existing relationships. Having visited lively churches myself, I have endured the same experience.
Treating criticism with respect will prove the most effective way both to inform our prayers and instruct us in how best to act towards outsiders as God’s ambassadors.
RELATED SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER: Prov: 18:1–17; Matt. 5:43–48; Eph. 5:15–20; 1 Pet. 4:9–17.
AN ACTION TO TAKE: God has given us two ears, but only one mouth. Time to listen twice as much as we speak. Learn to ask questions and listen to what others are saying. How does that impact your understanding?
A PRAYER TO MAKE: ‘Lord, encourage me to pray for others, listen to others and serve others. Amen.’
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