The other day, I was reading through Colossians and this verse really stuck out to me: “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone” (Colossians 4:5-6, NLT). In light of God directing [nlcf] to become an increasingly missional body, I thought this verse was extremely appropriate.
The phrase “make the most of every opportunity” was particularly curious. When I’m confused about the meaning of a particular verse, I find it helpful to look at other translations. The ESV, KJV, and NKJV are good word-for-word translations, so I thought I’d look there. Here’s how the NKJV says it: “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”
Redeeming the time…
I found myself captivated by these words, “redeeming the time.” This spoke to me in a different way than “make the most of every opportunity.” To “make the most of every opportunity” can be made to sound like the American ideal: work hard and get what you want. But to redeem something is far more incredible.
In the Old Testament, if an Israelite was sold into slavery or lost their land, their next-of-kin could buy them or their land back. This person was called the Kinsman Redeemer. They bought back what was lost and returned it to where it belonged. This law was set into place as a foreshadowing of the work of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. He bought back a lost people and returned them to where they belonged – with the Father.
This idea is beautiful. If we are to redeem the time, we are to take it back and return it to what it was supposed to be. When God created mankind, He desired to be in a loving relationship with us. And you know the story: we blew it, severing our relationship with God. But in Christ we can be redeemed and we are His ambassadors to a lost and dying world. As such, we live to glorify His name, making disciples of all nations.
When we speak to those who are without Christ, we must speak with wisdom. We must take these opportunities, times, and conversations back from the sinfulness of this world and return them to what they ought to be. That is, expressions of being in a loving relationship with God, our Father and Creator. Make the most of every opportunity by making it what it should have always been.
~ Brandon Thompson