1Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, for you know that you also have a Master in heaven.
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. 3At the same time pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison, 4so that I may reveal it clearly, as I should.
5 Conduct yourselves wisely towards outsiders, making the most of the time.* 6Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.
Verse 4:1 obviously went with Saturday’s passage and was discussed there. But a word of warning – verse and chapter divisions were added in the middle ages and were not a part of the original text. Often they are not at the right place, and yet, we tend to stop with the end of a chapter. That leads us to misunderstanding, as here, stopping at the end of chapter 3 leaves all the burden on the slaves, while Paul does have a word for those who are their masters. So – when you read a passage, read on a little to see if that was really the end of what the author was saying!
Paul goes on to ask the Colossians to devote themselves to prayer – to be faithful in prayer, and to pray with thanksgiving, always grateful for God’s presence in their lives! He also asks them to pray for him, not to free him from prison, but that a door may open through this experience for him to proclaim the message of Christ clearly. This, he believes, is why he is in prison – God will use this situation for good.
The Colossians should watch how they behave with outsiders, using wisdom, letting their love for all draw others in, rather than blocking others out. Their speech with them should be gracious – not condemning! And it should be seasoned with salt – this is not “salty language” such as we think of today, but interesting and compelling words of love, of how Christ has changed their lives!
The people of the first century church lived in a hostile world; they had to live in a way that both fit in with the culture of their day and simultaneously rejected parts of it. Paul says the way to do that is with grace and love, prayer and faithfulness. Our world is not so different – it is a hostile world and there are things we should reject – hate, anger, fear of those not like us. And the way we can live, and thrive, even in this hostile world, is with grace and love, prayer and faithfulness.