What Is Wise?
What is right is not wrong, but is it wise? Paul said, Eph. 5:15-17. “Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.” "What is the wise thing?" may be the best question ever asked.
We have something in common. We've all done some really dumb stuff. Stuff we hope nobody ever finds out about. Stuff we wish we could forget.
If you are like me, you look back and wonder, “How could I have been so dumb? So blind? So foolish?” We should have known better. In some cases, we did know better, but for some reason we thought we could beat the odds—that we would be the exception to the rule. In spite of what common sense (and maybe a friend or two) told us, we believed that we could control the outcome of our decisions.
So we followed our hearts, we trusted our emotions, we did our own thing, and now we wonder: what in the world were we thinking? If you're like most people, some of the decisions you wish you could unmake led to chapters of your life you wish you could go back and unlive.
Some of our bad decisions simply embarrass us. Others scar us. What's obvious now wasn't so obvious then. And what's obvious to us now may not be so obvious to everybody around us. Chances are, we've already bumped into somebody on the verge of making the same dumb decision we made. And we are sure that, once that person heard our sad story, he/she would drop to his/her knees in gratitude for our life-changing insight. Having come to grips with the error of his/her ways, he/she would immediately reverse course. But no. Instead, he/she endures our tales of woe, thank us for the unsolicited advice, and continues full speed ahead into the oncoming train. And we think back and wonder, “Could I have possibly been that naive? That stubborn? That foolish?” When we watch people we know and love make foolish decisions, it's as if they are strategically and intentionally setting out to mess up their lives.
Having watched dozens of people methodically waste their lives, I've concluded that while nobody plans to mess up his life, the problem is that few of us plan not to. That is, we don't put the necessary safeguards in place to ensure a happy ending. Nobody plans to destroy their marriage, but few people take precautions that guarantee "as long as we both shall live.'' Nobody plans to raise irresponsible, co-dependent children, but it's clear from looking at society that a bunch of parents don't plan not to. Nobody plans an addiction, but it happens. Why? A lack of necessary precaution. I haven't talked to anyone who planned to be buried under a mountain of credit-card debt, but I've met a lot of people who didn't plan not to be.
Our poor planning leads precisely where we had no intention of going. And once there, we ask, "How did this happen to me?"
The best question ever will provide the answer. Better yet, the best question ever will help you stay out of the situations and circumstances that rob you of your potential, your opportunities, and your future.