Watch Your Step

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

--Colossians 4:5

There's being smart and there's being wise.  I'm fine with smart.  I can do smart.  Smart comes naturally to me.  My head just retains information.  I like to think. I like to ponder.  I like to read things that are difficult to understand.  Book learning has always come naturally to me.  But that's smart, not wise.  I don't feel like I always do so well with being wise.  Most of the time, when I get into trouble, it's not because I wasn't smart, it's because I was unwise.  I don't think I'm alone in that.

Take, for instance, the case of Steffi Krause, age 17.  Krause and a friend were serving time in a juvenile detention center in Germany for theft when the time came for her 19 year old friend to be released.  Krause could not tolerate the idea of being incarcerated one moment longer.  So she hatched a plan (a very smart plan) to leave detention with her friend.  She hid in her friend's suitcase and rolled through the doors right behind her.  The guards later recalled that they had noticed how heavy her suitcase was, but it had never occurred to them to investigate.  Krause and her unnamed accomplice are both still at large.

This is a prime example of smart but not wise.  Both of these young women have exchanged a brief prison sentence for the fugitive life.  They must now either run or be caught.  And if/when they are caught they will serve a great deal more time.  By the way, the remainder of the sentence that Krause just couldn't bear to serve?  Two weeks.

When I think about the grief that I cause for myself and for others, I realize that it's because I've not been wise.  Lack of wisdom is always a factor when I can look back at something I have done or said and ask myself, "What was I thinking?"  Or, "How could I have thought that was a good idea?"  The maddening thing, of course, is that no amount of book-learning has cured me of my propensity to make unwise decisions.

That's why Paul's words to the Colossians can be pretty daunting.  He's not challenging me to be smart; he's challenging me to be wise.  This morning we'll talk about what it means to be wise in the way that we act.  What does it look like?  Where can we find wisdom?  And how can we "make the most of every opportunity" to act with wisdom.  May God grant us the wisdom that we can find in being smart.