Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside,
redeeming the time (Colossians 4:5, NKJV).
The older I get the more I become aware of how each of our actions and words impact others. Years ago I was privileged to work with former NFL-great (and needlepoint aficionado) Rosey Grier. A mountain of a man with a heart of gold, he was always aware of being in the public eye. He once spoke to a group of NFL recruits about this very topic, and one of them replied, “I don’t want to be a role model.” Rosey told him, “Son, when you accepted the NFL draft, you stepped into that position. The only thing you have to decide now is what kind of role model you’re going to be.”
How true that is for all of us, particularly believers. The moment we were born into God’s family, we stepped into the public eye. Like it or not, people watch us. Their motivation for doing so is irrelevant; the fact that they do requires us to “walk in wisdom…redeeming the time.”
We never know who’s watching/listening and how that will play out in their lives one day. Case in point: I wasn’t raised in a Christian home, though I thought I was a Christian and occasionally went to church. Throughout my growing-up years, I did a lot of walking, and my walks often took me past the spot where a little church was being renovated. I watched the progress with interest until the work was done and the still-modest house of worship opened its doors. It was a COGIC (Church Of God In Christ) church, and I have to tell you, some of the best music and singing I ever heard in my life came floating out of those walls into the street. At times I could even hear snippets of the preaching. Many times I longed to sneak inside and join them, but shyness held me back.
Years later, when I was part of a large church staff in the same town, I had the opportunity to get to know the pastor and his wife from that little church. They were the same ones who had refurbished it and preached and taught there ever since, raising their five children (all of whom ended up in ministry) in the small apartment above the church building. When they invited me to be part of their ministry to the homeless—feeding twice a week, providing emergency shelter, clothes, a place to shower and even put together resumes—I readily accepted. I was soon honored to be asked to sit on their board of directors and even to preach at a couple of their services.
Who would ever have thought that the scrawny, bashful little girl from a non-Christian home, who just happened to “pass by” and overhear that COGIC church’s worship, would one day stand behind that very pulpit and have the privilege of addressing the congregation? And yet, though it undoubtedly would never have crossed the mind of that pastor or his wife, even if they’d seen me lingering nearby, God knew—and He used that couple’s faithfulness to impact my heart for a future life-changing decision.
Our words and deeds and actions do not go unnoticed, beloved. Even now, this very day, we may impact someone’s life for eternity—even if we don’t know it until we step into that realm. May our prayer ever be that God would teach us to “walk in wisdom,” regardless of our situations or circumstances, and to redeem the time for His glory.