Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you, but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. Romans 16:19
Adults can learn a lot from children. Yet, most adults dismiss the wisdom children have to offer. Perhaps it is because of their youthful innocence or lack of maturity. Maybe it is because they have not lived long enough to know what many adults have had to learn through difficult experiences. Whatever the reason, there is still a lot to be appreciated about the innocence of children. Jesus did not dismiss the children who were singing His praises as He entered Jerusalem (Matthew 21:16). He acknowledged their wisdom and commanded their faith.
The human mind is a repository for good and evil thoughts. Yet, in their innocence, most children do not cultivate evil thoughts. Even those who act mischievously and selfishly are not inherently evil. They are only mimicking adult behaviors which can be corrected with the right training and guidance.
In today’s text, Paul compliments the Christians in Rome for their obedience and encourages them to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. Evil is learned. It takes time and intentionality to become evil. No one was born knowing how to kill, for example. Nor did anyone come out of their mother’s womb with knowledge about stealing, cheating, or lying. We learned sinful behaviors by observing the sinful acts of others.
The proliferation of evil in this ungodly world makes it challenging for the disciples of Jesus Christ to stay innocent in matters of evil. We are constantly bombarded with messages that tempt us to do evil. One of the best ways to remain innocent in matters of evil is by being wise about what is good.
Being wise about what is good is a lifestyle that is based on the word of God. For, the word of God judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). Only a mind that is renewed by the Holy Spirit through the knowledge of God’s word can be wise about what is good. Such a mind thinks of whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable (Philippians 4:8).”
Some of the practical things we can do to be innocent in matters of evil are: first, guard our eyes; for they are the portal to the soul. That means making sure the things we watch or see are edifying to our spirits (movies, websites, apps, etc.) and are complementary to our relationship with Jesus Christ. Second, set boundaries for our ears. Some things are not worth hearing or knowing. For example, I avoid casual conversations with people who use foul language. Cursing words wound my spirit and hurt my ears; and because I do not want them to become part of my vocabulary, I try not to expose my ears to them. Third, do not give an audience to people who want to share their wrongdoings as a badge of honor. Fourth, let others know you are not interested in gossip, speculations, and backstabbing so you do not become proficient at those sinful practices.
We all have a lion and a lamb within seeking to emerge as our true selves. When we are innocent in matters of evil, we feed the lamb within and can be wise about what is good. When we surrender to our sinful desires, we feed the lion within and become alienated from God. As we continue to feed our minds with the word of God, we decrease the influence of the lion within and increase the prevalence of the lamb in our souls
Questions for Personal Reflection
How are you staying innocent in matters of evil?
Why should you be wise about what is good?
Prayer- Blessed Lord, please help me to hide your word in my heart so I will not sin against you. May your Holy Spirit continue to lead and guide me so I can continue to live in obedience to your will and wise about what is good?