Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.
Walking in wisdom towards outsiders
What does it mean to walk in wisdom towards outsiders? Paul’s prayer for the Colossians that they might be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding gives us a hint. It would not be farfetched to infer that the walk of wisdom is a walk that is in line with the will of God, that is that we be like Christ. To use the biblical phrasing, to walk in wisdom towards outsiders is to be as Christ-like as we can possibly be towards outsiders. The outsiders here refer to those outside the church.
How does this practically work out in our lives? Well, it begins with prayer. As the Christian prays to be more Christ-like and sees and understands what Christ is like, he will imitate Christ. And in doing so, he is a model, however imperfect, of Christ to the non-believer. Our lives are a witness to Christ. While no one will be saved by observing Christ-likeness apart from a proclamation of the gospel, it is a crucial step in winning people to Christ.
However, as many of us soon discover, walking in this way towards outsiders is like walking in a minefield. We need wisdom to recognise where the mines are and how best to navigate through the minefield. Some mines ought to be disarmed, others ought to be sidestepped, but more often than not we always end up stepping on a mine. This mostly stems from the fact that there are so many things we can do (and say – we’ll ignore this for now and return to it in the 5th mark), but there is only so little time. So we have to make choices. We might have to pass up one good action for another. This relates to the next mark.