Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.…
I. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS WISDOM. The Church needs wisdom. Christians must be wise as serpents as well as harmless as doves. We are to blame for lack of wisdom as well as for lack of other graces, for this is a gift of God (James 1:5).
1. This wisdom is practical. It concerns itself with behaviour rather than with speculation.
2. It must be pure. There must not be the slightest unfaithfulness to Christ, tampering with truth, or casuistic deviation from the highest principles.
II. THE OCCASIONS FOR THIS WISDOM. It was most necessary in the apostolic age, when the Christians existed only as small communities scattered about among adverse populations. But it is always more or less called for.
1. For lawful self protection. If persecuted in one city the servant of Christ was to flee to another, lie was not to court opposition. Martyrdom is only a glory when it comes in the path of duty, and never when men go out of that path to seek it. Then it degenerates into little better than suicide.
2. To conquer opponents. The Church has a mission to the world, and she will fail in this mission if she cannot win her enemies over to her own side. For Christ's sake, and for the good of men who need his gospel, this wisdom must be observed in conciliating foes that they may themselves be brought into the Church.
III. THE MANNER OF EXERCISING THIS WISDOM.
1. In understanding those who are without. We often provoke opposition because we do not study the weaknesses and prejudices of others. On the other hand, Christians have shown a needless scorn for the good in others. True charity will take note of all that is admirable, and think of whatsoever things are worthy in the world outside the Church.
2. In an attractive exhibition of the blessings of Christianity. Souls are not saved by rating and scolding men. The world must be drawn, not driven, to Christ. A morose Church will only repel an unsympathetic world. Wisdom towards them that are without will forbid the scandal of quarrelling among Christians. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.