We are in an age of disinformation. Anyone can claim anything and appear to produce solid evidence of their claim. Articles, videos, photographs, “news” interviews etc. are all being used as documentation to sway people’s opinion.
This is concerning because many people are not investigating what they hear and see. I’m sure we’ve all done it. We’ve listened to someone’s opinion, watched a video, read an article and believed a lie. For the most part probably not too much harm was done. But in these days, its become more vital than ever that believers do not get deceived.
Don’t be Misled
When Jesus’ disciples asked Him about the days before His second coming the first thing He said was, ‘See to it that no one misleads you.” (Matthew 24:4). See to it. He put the responsibility on us. It’s our job to make sure we are not misled. How? I think we can begin to get a clue in James--
“Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;” James 1:19
To be quick to hear means that you listen to everything. You are paying attention. You don’t have your head stuck in the sand, but you’re alert and aware. There are many distractions out there, some even appearing to be ‘good’ things, but we need to be on our guard because we have an adversary roaming about seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8). The devil is just looking for an opportunity to take you out so awareness is essential.
Then, notice there is to be a time period between the time you hear and the time you speak. James’ wise advice here is not to hastily respond to what we hear. The instruction is not to just parrot everything we hear. Not to be quick to say, “Did you hear…” That’s just plain gossip. Take the time to process what you’re hearing or seeing.
“The ear tests words as the palate tastes food.” Job 34:3
Our sense of taste, along with our sense of smell, is a form of discernment. We can tell if something is rotten or appetizing. In the same way, our ears test words, at least they’re supposed to. Our sense of hearing includes a decoding process in the brain. The words you hear get processed through the brain so you can decipher what was said.
There are different levels of understanding to this. Once a child learns the meaning of words he is meant to grow from there to learn thoughts and concepts. This is a lifelong process. It’s something we should always do—grow in our level of understanding.
This period of time between being quick to hear and slow to speak is an investigative phase which should not be taken lightly. Its easy to just repeat and pass on things we hear, especially if from sources we trust, but we don’t have that luxury these days.
Think it Through
Finally, we are to be slow to anger. Once we hear and understand what was said, we must not react too quickly. Our passion for or against something needs to be tempered with wisdom as well as the Lord’s input.
“Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.” Proverbs 11:14
Its safe to weigh things out with other input. Compare what you’re hearing with other reliable sources you trust. Of course, sometimes even reliable sources can get it wrong, but this is where having more than one source comes in. Two or three sources can confirm a thing (Deuteronomy 19:15, Matthew 18:16) but not two or three sources that are just repeating each other!
“The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him.” Proverbs 18:17
Hopefully, most of us have learned that the first comment we hear on a topic is not always the right one.
Reliable sources, confirmation from two or three other reliable sources, logically investigating something yourself, and seeking the Lord’s wisdom and input are all safeguards we’ve got to be using these days. Oftentimes people don’t mean to be spreading lies but being deceived themselves they don’t know that they are.
I’m concerned that a number of videos and articles and other posts I see are falling into this category. People are sharing things without thinking them through, investigating them, or seeking the Lord. I’m talking about Christians. We’ve got to do better! I include myself in this as well. If anyone thinks they are above deception, they already are deceived.