Devotional: January 25, 2021
Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life; don’t for a minute lose sight of them. They’ll keep your soul alive and well, they’ll keep you fit and attractive. You’ll travel safely, you’ll neither tire nor trip. You’ll take afternoon naps without a worry, you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep. No need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner, Because God will be right there with you; he’ll keep you safe and sound.
Proverbs 3: 21-26 The Message
After a good night's sleep, I often feel more prepared for the day. In our modern world, the number of voices competing for our attention has multiplied. As a child, I remember four channels, ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS. Today, we have numerous TV channels, websites, and different social media. People get into arguments with total strangers from behind a computer screen. It is exhausting when you think about it.
We are blessed to live in a country where freedom of speech and press is part of our heritage. Our country is unusual in this aspect. We may not always agree or like every voice, but we still live in a free country.
However, the other side of the coin is that not all voices are equally trustworthy. Some are questionable. Others are downright dangerous, and delusional. How do you sort out which voices are authoritative in your life? What is genuine? What is hyperbole? What is fake?
Scripture counsels us to use “Clear Thinking and Common Sense”. The problem is that common sense is not always common. The saying, “If something sounds too good to be true, (or too bad to be true), it usually is” is a pretty good plumb line for us. We all should take what we hear, and what we see with a grain of salt. This is especially true in this age and time when images and sound bites can be manipulated, and sometimes even faked, with modern technology. Sadly, we almost need to do a reality check with things that just don’t add up.
For centuries, the printed word, newspapers, and later radio were our primary sources of information. We would hear and see advertisements which were how these industries supported themselves. Now, there is increased competition for people’s attention. As a result, some voices become more extreme in order to get noticed. The more extreme, the more press received, resulting in a pressure to be even more extreme. As a result, some readers get sucked into different fringe and conspiracy theories. The contemporary media landscape results in an insatiable desire for some voices to “sensationalize” the news.
For instance, I cannot tell you the number of times people have approached me with a news article about the Gospel of Peter, or another such “newly-discovered” document. The reporter behind the article frequently leads you to believe that this “new discovery” could supposedly up-end traditional Christianity. However, the truth is that many of these documents have been around for years. The church and scholars down through the ages long ago judged them to be false, and heretical. The church has always dealt with fake “gospels” and “letters” written by heretics. This is nothing new. Many times, I end up feeling sorry for the reporter so desperate for headlines they are willing to sensationalize heresy as mainstream Christianity, all for the sake of gaining readers.
Falsehoods like this have been around for centuries. Yet with the ability to spread information more quickly through technology, questionable information gets out to the world without anyone vetting or examining it. Often times, once something is said, some will take it as “gospel.” T believe what exactly they have heard. Again, this is where the scripture reminds us to use clear thinking and common sense.
We are also called upon not to be the people who are spreading things which may cause harm. We may pass on news which may prove false, without us realizing it. This is a difficult task, as breaking news stories are sometimes corrected by subsequent reporting. However, we should be very suspicious of malicious stories. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”, is probably one of the best guidelines to live by.
So, sleep well. Turn over to Lord the burdens and concerns which keep you awake at night. Trust that He really does know everything that is going on in the world. Amid all the changing words of our generation, may we listen for God’s eternal word, which never changes. The scriptures remind us that the Lord is the one who is ultimately in control. He will keep you safe and sound.
Thank You Lord, that You know me. You want to draw me closer to You through Your word, and prayer. Help me to put my trust in You. Guide me, as I seek to discern what is true and what is false in the news, and in the world. Forgive me when I am not patient, and especially when I panic, thinking You are not doing the job I think you should be doing. Instead, help me to rest in You, and in Your care. May my words and actions be pleasing to You, so that others will also trust in You, and not in themselves.
Gratefully, I pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen