Wisdom in the Age of Smoke, Mirrors, and Opinions

Wisdom in the Age of Smoke, Mirrors, and Opinions

When my wife and I lived in Acapulco we decided to take a trip to visit some friends in Oaxaca. I had the route all planned out. It would be a six-hour drive on some really great toll roads. The night before we left a young man from the neighborhood dropped by and saw the route I had highlighted on the map. He boldly said, “No, go this way. It’s much quicker.” I questioned him, but the route he showed me really did look shorter. So the next morning, against my better judgement, I took his route.

Six hours into the drive we found ourselves deep in the mountains of Mexico on washed-out, single-lane roads. The drive was treacherous. When we finally arrived in Oaxaca, nearly twelve hours later, I was angry and exhausted. My friends there commented that I had taken the most dangerous route possible to get to Oaxaca.

When I got home I started harassing my friend about his bad advice. I asked him if he had ever driven that route before. He said, ‘Oh, no. I can’t drive.”

Anyone and everyone can give their opinion. And on the internet, everyone does. People who write well, use humor, and can boldly articulate their point can build a huge following. Lots of people listen to them. The problem is, those people have the luxury of hiding behind a veil. They can filter their pictures, wax eloquent about their opinions on money, parenting, and marriage, but we never get to see the actual results of their ideas. Many of them are driving the same unknown roads we are for the first time, but boldly want to tell us how to do it.

One of the most important questions we can ask in this age of smoke, mirrors, and abundant opinions is: How is that working out for them?

The only way we can keep from being deceived before it’s too late is to investigate results. Sure, the person we admire’s life is all nice and filtered on Facebook, but do you know the backstory? Is the hefty mortgage for that dream home they brag about all the time keeping them up at night worried? Is their parenting philosophy turning their kids into rebellious, entitled hellions? Is their marriage hanging by a shoestring, even though they post happy pics of them out at fancy dinners every night? (I’ve seen all of the above firsthand.)

Rule of thumb: Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.

Before you go reposting that article of sage advice or adopting that hip new philosophy, ask yourself, Do we know the results this opinion or idea has brought them? All ideas have consequences.

King Solomon talked about this when he said: “The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps. One who is wise is cautious…” (Pr. 14:15-16)

If you want to live strong and free in this world you need to carefully evaluate the voices you are listening to. Always compare opinions with the truth God has already laid out. If you can’t find a clear answer in what God has already spoken in his word, ask him for wisdom. He’ll give it to you.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5