No one would call me "street smart" when it comes to actually "living" on the streets! I am blessed to never have had to endure this challenge in life. Yet, in some way, a child of Christ is "street smart". In its truest meaning, street smart defines someone who knows what is going on outside in the world. There are times when I have come across Christians who have no idea what is actually happening in the world right now! They don't venture beyond the walls of the church - content to just follow Jesus in the safety of their own little world. Jesus had a different idea for us.
"Now here's a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you'll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior." (Luke 16:8-9 The Message)
A manager in a rich man's employ had been taking things a little too far - running up all kinds of luxurious expenses on the rich man's accounts, all for his own use. One day, he is discovered and loses his job. This guy was more than a little "street smart" - he contrived a plan to "deal" with his misfortune. Now, Jesus is not commending him for his "conniving" or his wrong handling of the rich man's monies - - but he does use him as an example of how he wants us to be as Christians.
He doesn't want us to be "street smart" for the reasons of getting our own way, or being able to manipulate a situation for our own benefit. Instead, he wants to understand the use of good common sense. A street smart person not only possesses good common sense, but they know how to handle bad stuff when it comes up. I think Jesus may just have been after this concept when he tells us to be "street wise". Have the skills to function where you are at - not always living in the "when" or the "if ever". In "dealing" with life today, there are many opportunities for application of common sense.
We can be very "book smart", but a little light on common sense at times. Jesus says there is a benefit of learning to turn every adversity into an opportunity to stimulate us. If we are always guarding against adversity, by sheltering ourselves in places of perceived safety, we will miss out on much of the stimulation God intends in order to facilitate the growth we so desperately need.
Jesus reminds us of the importance of concentrating on the essentials. Too many times, we get caught up in the trivial, missing totally the bigger stuff which really matters. How many times do we find ourselves looking at someone and wondering about their choice in attire, or the way they "style" their hair, all the while missing the fact their heart is shredded from grief or disappointment? We miss the bigger stuff right before us! Street wise individuals have learned to "deal" with the rough stuff - - they get beyond the superficial and get to the meat of the matter! Maybe this is why Jesus was focusing us on being a little more "street wise".
Some of the best lessons I have learned were when I was outside of my comfort zone! When I was faced with the "stuff" I thought I'd never face - the opportunity to "apply" the book learning was made real! The book learning gave me a foundation - but the common sense God gave me did much to guide my steps! The two go hand in hand. You do not separate God's Word from conscience, nor sensibility from challenge. I often told my kids the all-too-familiar saying, "You don't have to jump off the bridge just because everybody else is doing it!" There are all kind of challenges - we need to know when it is the right challenge for us (common sense)!
Maybe it is time for each of us to be a little more "street smart" when it comes to living life. Not every book is a good read. Not every relationship is a trusted confidant. Sometimes we need to trust our common sense in order to avoid the pitfalls life affords. Just sayin!