John 7:24 “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.”
At first glance this might seem like a pronouncement of “Mister Obviousman,” but the thing is, this is something we all have problems with, often without realizing it. We rely on our senses to evaluate things, and often enough it’s questionable whether our higher reasoning has anything to do with it at all. That’s why public media have such an easy time, often enough, swaying public opinion. As the old computer saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out.” All of that is compounded by the fact that we never have all the information, even if the information we have is accurate in itself. That’s why we need to rely on the Holy Spirit: God is the only one who genuinely knows it all. It’s like Jesus Himself said right before this: “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” (John 7:17) We need to choose to be obedient to God before we “get all the facts” and make a decision. An amusing illustration of this was posted recently on Facebook, using a picture of a ski resort with the headline, “Florida Ski Resorts Not Practicing Social Distancing.” There are so many layers of intentional absurdity in that, but at least one comment on it seemed to take it halfway seriously! Not so long ago, “critical thinking” was considered a desirable skill, something to be taught by both parents and school teachers, but that seems to have gone out the window, with emotions and slogans taking its place. We need to pause, take a deep breath or two, and choose to listen to God.
I have the added risk in this (and I’m not alone in it) of pride that “I’m not like all those sheep who are taken in by fake news.” Thinking I have all the answers is even more dangerous than ignorance! I am to seek God and allow Him to show me what is beneath the surface, both of things that at first glance seem good and those that seem bad. Given my name, I was confused and then amused to hear the expression, “You don’t know jack” – which means, you don’t know anything – because I thought it was talking about a person. However, I need to remember that compared to God, I indeed don’t know anything, despite my love of knowledge in general. It’s like God told Jeremiah: “Let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.” (Jeremiah 9:24) He is to be the basis for all my judgments and decisions.
Father, thank You for this reminder. With all the flood of information, both accurate and fake, none of us can keep things straight without Your help. I pray that Your truth would indeed go out and prevail, setting people free from the abundance of lies that are presented to us as truth. May I always speak Your truth in love, not relying on myself but on You, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!