STUDY | Spend the week studying Colossians 4:2-6. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | Which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.
PRAY | Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | Jesus calls me to a lifestyle marked by prayer and integrity in the way I walk and talk.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
AN INFLUENCER LIKE HIM
With the rise of social media in the last decade, more people are looking to “influencers” in social media to help them make decisions. Influencers use their authority, position, knowledge or relationship with their audience as a way to connect with and influence them. An influencer might be a celebrity, industry expert, blogger, politician, journalist or academic.
Jesus was an influencer long before Facebook and Instagram. He influenced a movement that changed the course of history. And He taught His followers to be like Him. He showed them how to be influencers by living their ordinary lives in extraordinary ways.
As we near the end of Colossians, we see Paul doing the same. He calls believers to a lifestyle marked by prayer and integrity in how you walk and talk. If you want to be a positive influencer for Christ, these two things are essential.
Q: Who are some of the biggest influencers in our culture today? What makes them so popular?
Q: Describe someone who’s had the biggest influence on your life.
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
RELATIONSHIPS INSIDE COMMUNITY
Paul tells the Colossians to be in constant prayer. God’s people are to be a praying people, whether it’s private prayer or praying as a believing community.
The kind of prayer Paul encourages has two ingredients: watchfulness and thankfulness. Being watchful in prayer means to be devoted to and persistent in prayer. You don’t let anything distract you from being connected to the Father through prayer. Being thankful in prayer grounds you. It helps you see your circumstances from a godly perspective. Even in difficulty, you can have joy in God. Thankful prayer doesn’t ignore difficulties but acknowledges that God is at work in them.
Paul also makes a personal request for prayer. “Pray for me and my fellow missionaries as we work to take the gospel out in the world. Pray that doors would open wide for us to declare the good news of Jesus Christ. Pray that God would give me the words to clearly declare His message of hope to others.” Paul is lifting the eyes of the Colossians to look beyond their community and to the wider church community in the world.
read: Colossians 4:2–6. What are some practical ways you can be more watchful in your prayer life?
Q: What are some of the benefits of praying for believers outside your community?
RELATIONSHIPS OUTSIDE COMMUNITY
Paul next shifts from relationships inside the community to those outside of it. He tells the Colossians, “Be wise in how you walk and talk without unbelievers. Use your time to influence others. Live in a way that your conduct and conversations are consistent. Be gracious in how you talk with unbelievers. Don’t antagonize them. Instead, draw them to Jesus by responding to them in a way that’s loving and inviting.”
Q: What things can distract you from using your time to influence others?
Q: What message does it send to nonbelievers when you aren’t consistent in what you say you believe and what you do?
Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.
PRAYER IS CENTRAL
Paul makes prayer a central focus for the Colossians. Prayer is the only way to truly know yourself. Prayer lets you encounter God and experience Him as He is—not who you imagine Him to be. Prayer makes your relationship with God a genuine relationship. There’s conversation, talking and listening. You delight to know more about Him, and there’s a growing disdain for anything that gets in the way of your relationship with Him.
Prayer is the gateway to change in your life. Prayer allows you to navigate life with God’s wisdom. Prayer reorients your heart to God and reorders your loves. When you focus on prayer, you put yourself on the path to greater intimacy with God. Prayer helps you like nothing else to know God and yourself.
Q: Do you see your prayer life as strong or weak? Explain.
Q: What’s one thing you can start doing to enhance your prayer life?
WALK AND TALK
Colossians is all about understanding our identity in Christ and living out of that identity. In this passage, Paul is telling believers, “Your positive influence comes from your integrity. When your character matches your conduct and conversations, you are a powerful witness for the gospel. Don’t give people a reason to doubt the gospel by the way you walk and talk.”
As believers, we should be mindful of our relationships with others. We need to be sensitive to each person and their situation. We should always seek to have a positive influence on others by relating to them with Christ’s love, care and wisdom.
Q: Where would you like to have more positive influence for Christ in your life?
Q: What would it look like if your community was more mindful of relationships with nonbelievers? What would be different?
Select 1 question from this section to ask your group.
LEADING WITH INFLUENCE
The greatest influence you will have on someone depends on how much you reveal Christ to them in how you walk and talk. Jesus influenced others by the way He lived. Instead of seeking power or position, He humbled Himself. He submitted Himself to God’s will and daily relied on the Father to give Him strength and wisdom through prayer. Instead of demanding that others serve Him, He made Himself a servant. He used His time to show compassion to others, healing them and teaching them how to live in a real relationship with God. He influenced future generations by teaching and empowering His disciples to carry on His mission after He left them. He spoke vision into their lives and challenged them to take the next step forward.
The way to maximum influence isn’t through your authority, position, knowledge or network. The way to maximum influence is to live like Jesus every day and in every way. It is to be humble, be a servant and be one who empowers others. If you do this, it will shape your character, conduct and conversations in new and influential ways.
Q: What keeps believers from having more influence with others?
Q: What’s one way you grow in humility by serving or empowering others?
Ask God to give you a heart to pray with watchfulness and thanksgiving. Spend time praying for missionaries you know on the field and for their work. Pray for God to reveal anything that’s getting in the way of you being a positive influencer for Him with others.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
• Read 1 Thessalonians 5:12–28 and identify how Paul’s instructions are similar to those in Colossians.
• Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.
Prayer in the Bible: Prayer plays a central role in every stage of God’s story in the Bible. “Prayer is so great that wherever you look in the Bible, it is there. Why? Everywhere God is, prayer is. Since God is everywhere and infinitely great, prayer must be all-pervasive in our lives.”
Things That Are Above: “Two other ways in which believers can set their ‘minds on things that are above’ (3:2) are praying (Eph. 6:18–20) and telling their faith wisely and persuasively to outsiders so that they may be drawn to the fullness of life in Christ.”
Seasoned with Salt: “The believer’s talk is to be gracious, rather than gruff, and charming, rather than coarse. The believer’s talk is to be seasoned with salt. Salt was used for two purposes in Paul’s time. It was used
as a preservative to keep food from spoiling. This would mean the believer’s speech is to be free from corruption, wholesome. Salt was also used as an additive to give flavor to food. If this meaning lies behind the figure, then the believer’s speech is to be interesting, witty, tactful, and appealing. Perhaps the best understanding of the reference to salt is that the believer’s speech is to be both wholesome and appealing.”
1. “What Is an Influencer?,” Influencer Marketing Hub, accessed October 28, 2019, https://influencermarketinghub.com/what-is-an-influencer/.
3. Richard R. Melick, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, vol. 32, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1991), 322. 4. Timothy J. Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (New York: Penguin Books, 2016), 18.
5. Timothy J. Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (New York: Penguin Books, 2016), 28.
6. R. C. Sproul, ed., The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2015), 2127.
7. Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 346.