Newspapers. They were some of my cherished things to do growing up. I read up all the cartoons on the back pages of a few of them and had so much fun playing the featured classic games or Crossword puzzles for the day. Forget the news content, they were depressing anyway. One game I really enjoyed playing a lot in those days was the Spot the Difference. It’s a type of puzzle where the player is required to identify the often inconspicuous, differences between two otherwise similar images or pictures. Solutions are usually provided close by to reveal how well you did on the hunt.
Now, those were many years ago. But since becoming an adult, I find that the ability to recognize differences is even more crucial now than ever. Scenarios in life are often not that black and white, and many times, pertinent strategy in one situation, may be totally inappropriate in a similar but separate context. In those instances, you need to be able to judge wisely and to discern the difference. So, I have kept the hunt for differences on. Some people may even argue that another name for this skill is wisdom. In the book of Proverbs chapter 26, we’re told in verse 4, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him.” But the very next verse says, “Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.” These 2 verses appear to be very contradictory statements, but each has its own application. Context matters. Therefore, be led.
Please relax, as I introduce you to a few of the finds from my collection. My intention in this exercise is, not to decide for the believer, but to aid him in rightly dividing the Word of God, to help reinforce his faith against the vagaries of life, to pilot him away from the dangers of excesses, and to shine the light on the deception of the enemy. You know, to sell a lie, all the enemy needs is a half-truth. I hope this helps in some small way, to establish the reader much firmer upon the sound doctrine of God’s Word.
We start with our first Spot the difference, which says:
#1. Be open-minded, but do not be gullible:
It is extremely important to remain teachable and receptive to God’s word, regardless of the vessel through whom it’s being communicated. Don’t be a smart aleck or a “know it all” with the obnoxious attitude that no one can teach you anything. The moment you stop learning, you stop growing. By being open-minded, you can receive and learn new information that may help you along in your life’s journey.
The Bible introduces us to a great teacher of the word called Apollos in Acts 18:24-26. It says he was a man mighty in Scriptures and very eloquent. He was instructed in the way of the Lord, and he taught the things of God accurately. But he was only exposed to the baptism of John. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him speak, they were impressed. The Bible says, they took him aside and explained the ways of God to him more accurately. Thank God he was open enough to receive what this godly couple had to say to him. Some arrogant preacher would have piped up and told them exactly where to go. After all, it was his meeting. He could have responded to Priscilla and Aquila with something like, “Hey fellas, why don’t you organize your own meeting, then we can come listen to you speak. This is my meeting and I do all the teaching around here while you do the listening, thank you very much.” The true humility exhibited by Apollos in this instance helped forge him into a sharper, more effective instrument in the hands of God. In the next few verses after that encounter, he traveled on to Achaia, and the new information he had acquired came to his aid. We’re told that he was able to help the believers there a great deal, and to vigorously refute the claims of the Jews, by showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ. What a man!
However, being open-minded does not mean we must accept everything someone says in the name of truth. Regardless of who it is, how many degrees they have to their name, their designation in their denomination, how spectacular the signs and wonders wrought through their hands, or how much gusto or calmness was employed in the delivery of the word preached, make sure what they’re preaching is in line with the Word of God before accepting it as truth. If the words preached do not line up with Scriptures, do not accept it, regardless of who preached it or how they did. Paul, the apostle, said to the believers in Galatia, and by extension to us today, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8 NKJV.
It is your responsibility as a believer to make sure that what you believe is the truth. It is not the responsibility of your pastor, it is yours. You have the Bible, and you have the Holy Spirit, the ultimate Teacher, living inside of you. If you end up believing a lie, it is your fault. So, while we must listen to others, because God gave ministry gifts for a reason, we must continue to check with our own hearts, check in with the indwelling Holy Spirit, and examine the scriptures ourselves, to make sure what we’re hearing is the truth.
Bible tells us about the Berean believers, it says, “These were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” Acts 17:11. The Bereans demonstrated a readiness to receive the word. But they were not naive, they did not accept Paul’s words at face value, they examined the Scriptures daily to confirm that they were Bible-based. If the Bereans were commended for their due diligence in vetting Paul’s teachings, why should you take someone else’s word at its face value?
Be open-minded does not mean be gullible. Listen to others, even hold them in high regard as leaders where applicable, but make sure to constantly examine the accuracy of what you’re hearing based on the Word of God.