Continue in prayer…that God would open unto us a door of utterance to speak the mystery of Christ…that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. (Colossians 4:2-4, KJV)
I learned firsthand about a door of utterance several years ago while I was attending a local home group bible study. Although I’d been exposed to the gospel as seen through the lens of God’s grace, I was having difficulty articulating it to others. I recognized it when I heard a teaching or read a book/blog about it, but when I tried to explain what I knew, my words would fall to the ground with a thud. I could tell there was no life in my words. I was merely regurgitating dogma which had no ability to produce real change in those around me.
Our bible study group would focus on reading through one particular book of the bible at a time, answering homework questions for each chapter, then discussing our answers at our weekly meeting. We also did fun outings together like game nights, beach days, birthday celebrations and yard sales. We shared meals together and supported each other through moves, job searches, divorces, and health challenges. Even though we each held differing perspectives on scriptures, as we shared our lives together, my respect and love for each person grew.
I enjoy discussing the things of God, especially with the intent of personal life application. The church I was attending at the time did not have a “grace” bible study, but I concluded that the Word of God was big enough to teach us all the truth. If the revelation of grace was true, the Word of God could reveal it to others just as He did to me. In fact, it could be a testing ground for what I’d come to believe as true.
At first I just sat and listened. I quietly disagreed with some of their perspectives, but I had no strength or words with which to argue. As relationships developed, I had no desire to argue. I genuinely loved and respected this group of people regardless of our differences. Honestly, their differing views did not threaten me or cause me to question the Gospel of Grace, nor did it lessen my desire for them see these beautiful truths of God’s love and grace, but it did develop in me a patience and a respect for their own unique journey with the Lord and their freedom to choose just what they would believe.
I focussed on what we agreed on and I would ask the Lord what to say when things that were said were a bit “off.” I felt that unless the Lord gave me clear and loving words to speak, I would not be able to comment. I asked the Lord that if the Gospel of Grace was true and if He wanted me to share what I understood to be true, then He would have to give me those words. Somehow, I inherently understood that the words He would give me would be truthful, respectful, and kind.
I’ve been in the kind of theological arguments that leave you feeling brutalized by the harsh inflexibility of your opponent (or yourself). Frankly, I have never seen a person won over by this type of exchange. And I’ve never felt cared about by someone who clobbered me with their beliefs. I have done it to others and I have had it done to me. It is not pleasant or life-giving. I’ve found that it seems to cause both sides to dig their heels in and “win” at any cost, then check back with those who will agree with them to confirm their victory (both feeling they are the victor). It seemed senseless and I no longer had an appetite for it.
From experiencing the grace and love of God for myself, I began to notice within me a genuine caring and love towards others, especially those who believed differently from me. I saw myself as growing and learning and wanted to give others the space to grow and learn at their own pace, knowing the responsibility for a truly changed heart was completely on God. I could participate in what He was doing in another’s life as long as I found the open door in which to share. No longer would I try to knock down doors to get my point across. Now, like a seasoned athlete, I would take a position of readiness and availability, genuinely listening to and respecting the heart of the other person, waiting to see where the door of utterance might be and what the Holy Spirit would give me to contribute. I was a part of His team.
I became aware that God was constantly extending love to everyone, offering them the opportunity for life, for freedom from condemnation and hurt and unrest. All I needed to do was pause and listen, speaking only if directed. One thing I did notice was that there were times when there was no door of opportunity to share truth. If I tried to logically explain anyway, I could feel my words not penetrating and the resulting outcome would be a sense of stagnation. I realized my job in those circumstances was to simply listen and pray. However, if I did wait until I sensed an open door and the Lord giving me something to say, the result would produce an electrifying change in the atmosphere. Clarity would come. Peace would come. Understanding would come. It was as if a sword from heaven succinctly cut through a veil that keeps the minds of the world operating in black and white. It literally felt as if a door opened and a beautiful world of light and color appeared.
The words I spoke at these open door opportunities did not seem like logical head knowledge. In fact there were times I spoke things that I didn’t even realize I knew. I impressed myself, but I understood deep within that it was the Holy Spirit speaking through me. I could tell the difference between my words of knowledge and these life-altering words of the Spirit. It made me realize the effectiveness of the Christian lies solely in what the Spirit empowers.
Not everyone in that bible study came to accept the gospel in terms of a gracious and unconditionally loving Father. I don’t even think that has been my goal ~ to get others to believe as I do. Rather it is to love others as my Father loves me, introduce them to Him and his extraordinary invitation to LIFE! There are still times I am tempted to explain grace through logical knowledge, but I prefer when my heart is sensitive to the Holy Spirit and respectful of how the Father has already been working with that individual. I want to speak in a language and with words that that particular person will understand, words which only the Holy Spirit can give me.
There is no need to storm the castle in your own strength, just wait for the open door of utterance and watch the love of the Father manifest.