“Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer each one.” (Col 4: 5,6)
According to recent research, six in ten people have talked to their neighbours in the past week, compared to three in ten surveyed this time last year. This little piece of data raises my spirits among a series of other less cheery coronavirus statistics. I have definitely sensed a change in my availability to my neighbours in lockdown in that I rather enjoy a good (distanced) chat on their doorsteps. Pre-lockdown I would often be rushing to work which prevented me from conversing beyond a brief ‘hello’, while other times upon returning from work I’d be ‘talked out’, or heading for a run and hoping no one was hovering outside and gearing up for a chat! I wonder if Jesus would stop and talk on his way out for a jog? Hmmm.
We know the commandment to love our neighbours extends beyond those who live next door, but it most certainly includes them too. If six in ten of us are having conversations with our neighbours, what are we talking about? Do our conversations point people towards the hope we have in Jesus, or do they involve grumbling about our political leaders, the weather, or Jean at number 43 who clearly hasn’t understood the social distancing brief? If we know Jesus, we know what is means to be loved unconditionally and we recognise the unmerited favour and mercy we have received. This incredible gift of love and grace should increase our grace towards others and our fill our conversations. If we are to have salt-seasoned chats then we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us speak hope-filled and gracious words that encourage and inspire our neighbours and friends to come before the one who has lavished his love and grace upon each of us. Let’s pray that this week we would do so, out of love for God and out of love for one another.
Lord, help me to spread your message of love as I have been called to do. Give me boldness in sharing your gospel with number X on my street and give me opportunities to speak to them with wisdom and grace. Amen
Prayer Request: Pray for older people in our church family who have been isolating, as they make decisions about leaving home and meeting with others – for wisdom and protection.