Be very careful, then how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil~ Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV
We all do stupid stuff sometimes. It’s simply a small piece of this thing we call “being human”.
Some stupid stuff is essentially inconsequential in the grand scheme. Things like shopping at Costco the day before a holiday, ordering the triple cheeseburger meal, or forgetting to turn the heater down at night are all choices that will cause no serious harm to anyone but us.
Then there’s the big stuff.
When I say ‘big’, I am talking about actions that are potentially life altering and destructive. Driving drunk, using drugs, having affairs, and committing armed robbery all fall neatly into the category of really stupid stuff that has the potential to hurt all kinds of people.
Then there’s the stupid stuff Christians do.
Most of the stupid stuff Christians do is not intended to harm anyone. We just do stuff without bothering to question the rightness, wrongness or wisdom of our actions.
If we are lucky and circumstances merciful we are the only ones hurt by the stupid stuff we do. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as luck and circumstances are rarely merciful. When one Christian does a stupid thing it becomes harder for all Christians to share the gospel effectively, it also causes all Christian to appear ignorant, mean-spirited and/or hypocritical to the unsaved world.
Any list of stupid stuff Christians should avoid needs to begin with…
1. Speaking in anger- James 1:20
I know there are times when things just need to be said and saying them when we are angry feels really good. However, I have learned the hard way that speaking our minds when angry rarely leads anywhere beneficial or productive.
2. Refusing to take advice or accept correction- Proverbs 19:20, Proverbs 12:1.
Imprudent people assume they already know everything about everything. Wise people receive criticism and evaluate it honestly, seek out divergent opinions and request guidance. Wise people don’t do everything others tell them to do (that would be stupid) but they are willing to hear others out.
3. Tolerating sinful behavior from the people we love- Matthew 18:15, Luke 17:3, Galatians 6:1-2, Jude 22-24
In a culture where the highest value is “judge not lest you be judged” confronting sin feels counter-intuitive and wrong. However, a well-timed, well-worded and loving confrontation might just be the only thing that saves a rebellious person from a lifetime of self-destruction and an eternity spent in hell.
4. Allowing personal sin to take root in secret- Genesis 4:7
If you do not wish to participate in a particular activity (with a few notable exceptions) in front of your Mother, Pastor, supervisor or a police officer, that activity likely has the power to destroy you. Stop it. Now.
5. Playing with dangerous behaviors that may or may not be sinful- Ephesians 5:15
Just because an activity is legal that does not make it a wise thing to do or to do excessively. We should think long and hard before we entangle ourselves in any behavior with that has the potential for self-destruction.
6. Isolation- Genesis 2:18
A natural response to hurt for certain types of people is to isolate himself or herself from anyone who might possibly cause more pain (basically all of humanity). This form of self-protection feels noble and even wise but is a really terrible idea. Isolation inevitably breeds peculiar ideas and weird behaviors. Neither helps the cause of Christ.
7. Choosing to have the wrong kinds of people in our lives- Proverbs 13:20, 1st Corinthians 15:33, 2nd Corinthians 6:14
Sadly enough good people rarely affect bad people to the same degree that bad people affect good people. That’s why even grownups ought to choose their friends, spouses and associates wisely.
8. Believing everything we hear or read- Proverbs 18:15, Matthew 10:16
Christians are sometimes the most gullible people on earth and it really hurts Christianity. God calls His people to be wise, perceptive and discerning. If a news story (no matter how juicy) cannot be substantiated by more than one source, assume it’s false and do not post it on Facebook, mention it to your prayer group or write a blog about it. Please.
9. Not listening to others- Acts 17:16-34
I am shocked at the number of Christians I know who simply will not listen to anyone or even watch an interview with a person who does not share their opinion on EVERYTHING. It’s true that we need to be discerning about what and whom we allow to influence us. That said, if we never engage with people who think differently than we do we will never impact our world for Jesus.
Most of this stuff is less about smart and stupid than making the decision to consistently seek God and do life His way. When we look to God and His word for guidance He directs our steps and we cannot help but become wise; and in the process of becoming wise we stop doing stupid stuff.