Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.
Christ's mission was to outsiders: so was His commission to His disciples. This holds good now. Every one who enters the Church enters not only into a peculiar relation with Christ, but with the world also. "Let your light so shine," etc. Outsiders watch us sharply, and Christ intended they should. The Christian is the only Bible the great majority ever look at; then we ought to live as to require no commentary to explain us. We are doorkeepers to the way of life not to block the way but to let others in.
I. WALK WISELY.
1. So as not to give the lie to our professions. We tell the uncon verted that Christianity will make them cheerful under trials; do we fret under them? We talk about patience; do we lose temper under the first provocation? In the prayer-meeting we pray as though religion were the one thing needful: are social ambition or money-grabbing the chief end of our lives outside? If in walking through an orchard we pick up a fair-looking apple, but on putting our teeth to it find it sour, we fling it away; so we are known by our fruits. Very few are made infidels by pernicious books, but many are by inconsistent Christians. On the other hand, a noble, godly life is the most convincing of sermons.
2. We can never win outsiders by compromising with them. The people of the world do not expect us to live as they do; and when we surrender our principles they are secretly disgusted. To draw men out of a pit we must have a firm, strong foothold or they will draw us in. He who walks closest to Christ will have most converting power.
3. The subject has a vital connection with direct efforts for the conversion of men. "He that is wise winneth souls." How little common sense many employ in trying to bring their children, scholars, or friends to the Saviour. A father asks people to pray for his boy, and then treats him so as to harden him. Some people badger their children with ill-timed or tempered talk about their souls. And yet nothing requires more tact and gentleness. If we want to water a flower we do not dash a pailful over it, but sprinkle it. God does not send His Spirit as a waterspout, but as rain. Paul was consumed with zeal, yet showed wonderful sagacity in adaptation.
II. WATCH FOR OPPORTUNITIES. "Redeeming the time." Chances must be sought for putting in the right word, and when God sends it we must make the most of it. We must go on the principle of now or never. This will make us eager to embrace opportunities; and in turn we must urge the undecided to embrace Christ at once. Every act of kindness to the unconverted will help us.
(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.