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Things That Only “Look” Wise

“These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom…” Colossians 2:23

The Bible places a high price on wisdom. “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; for her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold (Proverbs 3:13-14).” Wisdom is an investment worth buying into. The effort to gain wisdom will paid back many times over. And the Bible is also very clear about where true wisdom comes from. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God (James 1:5).” It is no surprise that wisdom should come from God, as he is presented to us in Scripture as he “who alone is wise (1 Tim 1:17).”

But not everything that appears to be so is wise. As they say, “not all that glitters is gold.” There are things that only “look” wise. And it seems to me we live in a world where the “appearance of wisdom” as alluded to in Colossians 2:23 is far more common that true wisdom. The generation that I am living in right now seems to be particularly saturated with individuals who are trying to appear wise, but according to God’s Word, are really quite foolish. I’m not primarily referring to unbelievers either. We expect foolishness there, for “the fool has said in his heart, there is not God.” But rather I’m thinking primarily of foolish professors of Christianity.

As I sit back this morning and think about things that only “appear” to be wise, several specific things come to my mind.

The No-Church Christian

First, there seems to be a growing number of Christians who think it is “wise” to live without any tangible and accountable connection to a local church. The impression that is given is that too many local churches are poorly run, and have the wrong emphasis, and are filled with hypocrisy. Thus, the Christian simply chooses to stand somewhat apart full-fledged involvement in the local expression of the body of Christ. Maybe they attend here and there. They do not join a church of course. They “know” better than to do that. They have their Bibles and their doctrines and they can grow much better, so they say, on their own.

But such “wisdom” is certainly not found in the Word of God. The churches in Paul’s day, though newly established by the best of preachers, were already going astray. But no where does Paul recommend disengagement as a strategy. Some of the churches in Revelation were so corrupt that Christ calls them “synagogues of Satan”, but still he does not commend separation. I simply cannot see how any Christian can read the pages of the Bible and come to the conclusion that they can grow and mature outside of an accountable, involved, serving, praying, worshiping, giving relationship with a local church. This opinion strikes me as one of those things that only “look” wise.

The “Open” Minded Christian

Second, there seems to be a growing number of Christians who think it is “wise” to hold views on topics such as abortion, sex, marriage, or gender that are directly contrary to Scripture. They want a Christianity that can fit in with modern thought on topics like this. They are fine with the Bible when it talks about loving one another, but are not prepared to call sin those things the Bible calls sin. As such, you can be a “good Christian” and still be okay with the slaying of an otherwise innocent human life in the womb. They are “open minded” about such issues. But being open minded where God has spoken clearly is not wisdom but folly.

The Bible describes the taking of an innocent human life as murder, no matter how young that child is, or the circumstances of their conception. Period. Scripture puts boundaries on sexual relationships, condemning homosexual activity, and all heterosexual sex outside the boundaries of a marriage between a man and woman. And the redefining of genders based on nothing but the mental state and emotional feelings is an attack on the God who made us male and female. This is not wisdom, but foolishness to the highest degree. It only “looks” wise.

The News Junkie Christian

Thirdly, and finally, it seems to me that some Christians today believe that being fully informed and strongly opinionated about every political issue is truly wise. They soak up their favorite flavor of news like a sponge, waking up dry every morning and eager to learn what is happening today so they can saturate themselves full of the latest breaking story. For some there is an attraction toward the “conspiracy” type of information, as this inevitably feeds their craving to be “in the know” (while everyone else apparently is just gullibly believing the majority report) and pride (I know the “real” story and you don’t.).

The Bible does not condemn being informed about our society and culture, but places a much higher priority on knowing God and knowing his word. Christians obsessed with the media seem to always believe the sky is falling, and are unable to discern that the secular news, like any business, exists for the purpose of making money and will therefore “sell” whatever their listeners want to hear. And too often Christians are eager to pass along half-truths and falsehoods to their own social circles, so long as the information seems to support their own opinions. But how few are those Christians whose great concern is to know the will of God as revealed in Scripture. Christians today would gladly spend an hour watching the news, but could not imagine spending an hour in a Sunday school class, a Bible study, or a small group study of Scripture. This, again, only “looks” wise.


May the Lord be pleased to put within my own heart, and yours, a thirst for true wisdom. May we seek the wisdom from above, and not the wisdom of this world. “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom (James 3:13).”

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