“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16
An acquaintance of ours died last month. He was a businessman and dealt mostly with produce. Other endeavors were window blinds, wall coverings and other types of home interior items.
He was not a man of high degrees from educational institutions. His common sense, personality and in general, his every day demeanor was that of a man of great wisdom.
In his efforts to buy the best produce for his store, he considered the product, the producer and even the state in which it was grown. Nothing was ever simple and in any effort in his life, tremendous research, testing and deliberation must be a forerunner.
One of the statements I once heard him make, “You’ve got to know who to buy from, but just as important to know is who not to buy from.” There is a message in that statement that echoes over and over in my mind.
That quote of “who not to buy from” pertains to many of life’s experiences and considerations. We have learned, in many cases the hard way, we simply can’t listen to everyone that speaks or writes. Our world has become so saturated with information and misinformation, it is a certain fact, we cannot evaluate or critique it all.
With so much information in existence, there is no way possible that all of it is true and accurate. Furthermore, there seems to be a pastime in the entire world of misleading people. Whether this is done as a joke, out of meanness or with a political or business agenda in mind, it is real and apparently there’s nothing that can be done to stop it. In America, we have freedom of speech and press, but there is no law dictating the words have to be true other than the ninth commandment and many are not aware of that.
The term, “fake news” has become a common ism we hear most every day. There was a time when journalism was who, what, when, where and sometimes why. The “why” of those characteristics sometimes spilt over into personal thoughts. Opinions are just opinions and should never be regarded as factual information. Opinions are sometimes worth listening to, but they’re just opinions.
In former times, we heard the term often used, “white lies.” This was often used to describe a fish story or other personal accomplishment that made no difference in the long run to anyone. Most everyone quickly recognized these as false and considered them, in many cases, to be a joke.
This “white lie” philosophy and practice has evolved into a vast misunderstanding of what is truth and what is not. It seems a terrible thing to regard no one, or a best, very few, as truthful and trustworthy. Have we entered into an “anything goes” world philosophy in which all words must be evaluated as accurate or not?
A missionary friend several years ago, said he believed the “greatest gift from God was the gift of discernment.” To be selective in what we believe and consider its source and validity is a gift indeed. This could also be included in a discussion of wisdom and the subjects are most certainly related.
Being judgmental to the point of condemnation is not to be confused with discernment. Discernment is based on such factors as scriptural evidence, past experiences, and observation. People that appear judgmental do tremendous damage to the Kingdom. Judging is God’s job. Personally, I have no desire for that responsibility and tremendous burden.
Jesus said in Matthew 24: 4, 11, and 24, “in the last days there would be false prophets and they would deceive many.”
For those that actually study the Bible and know what God reveals to us in this precious text, the lies are quickly recognized. Salvation, by Biblical definition, is the faith based belief in Christ Jesus, crucified for the remission of sin and resurrected. When men feel like they have to add their own interpretation or personal twist to this simple concept, they instantly become those false teachers Jesus was referring to.
I have been surprised and horrified at the reasons people believe they can be saved. Being a member of a certain church or denomination, being good or owning a Bible, doesn’t save anyone. I recently talked to a man that thought he was saved because he had been baptised.
Revelation 22: 18, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” To manipulate the Bible to fit one’s particular notions is obviously a dangerous practice. Many, however, are willing to take that chance.
In our deceased friends words, “knowing who not to listen to or trust” is a desirable trait of wisdom to possess. In this world of false and misleading information, those that stand in pulpits or on TV or on the street, certainly have a propensity to mislead and in many cases, don’t even know it.
Considering Revelation 22: 18, those adding to the scriptures are inadvertently placing themselves in a very precarious state. Revelation 20: 10, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
We will miss the produce man but his wisdom will remain for a lifetime. The concept I feel compelled to pass along is: be careful who you listen to. No matter what information someone may convey, analyze it in the Bible and make sure it is correct. Better yet, become a student of the Bible and then you’ll know what the misinformation is and take precautions to protect yourself.
The bottom line is, “Christ Jesus was crucified for the remission of the sin of the world and resurrected.” Always consider the source of information. I could list many examples of cases in which individuals with good intentions have added to or taken from the gospel. Always assume the personal responsibility of determining the correct information and that only comes from a personal knowledge of the Bible.