Sunday, May 18, 2014

Get out the sifter

Have you ever been told you were a little too gullible?  In the most literal sense, we probably all start out a little too gullible, for the meaning of the word is that of being easily cheated or deceived.  We often call someone who is gullible a little too naive - they lack the experience, judgment, or information to make the right or "sound" decision.  Some of us have the experience, but lack the judgment, or even just don't have enough information to make the best decisions in the moment.  So, whenever this happens, we are literally being a little too gullible for our own good.  

The gullible believe anything they’re told; the prudent sift and weigh every word.  (Proverbs 14:15 MSG)

The gullible believe anything they are told - why?  It could be because they have never experienced whatever it is they are being roped into, so it seems credible (believable) to them.  It could also be they don't have all the information about the circumstances, but based upon what they know, they jump to conclusions.  Most of the time, it is one of these two issues which get us into the place of being deceived, but on occasion, it is our judgment which gets in the way.  We sometimes even "know better", but just head into the middle of the muddle head-long without much thought.  

Judgment is the ability to form an "opinion" in the moment which is based on objective information.  Too often our judgment is "clouded" by subjective information - those things we come to feel or interpret through out emotions in the moment of decision.  The problem with this means of making decisions is just how fickle our emotions are!  We cannot trust our emotions to be consistent, nor can we trust them to be trustworthy, because they are swayed by the influence of more than just our "reasoning".  Emotions are subject to the condition or state of our body at the moment (such as being well-rested, or bordering on exhaustion).  They can even be subject to the imbalances of a particular hormone in our system at the time of the decision.  Either way, we cannot trust them as the basis of using "sound" or "reasonable" judgment each and every time a decision has to be made.

The prudent sift and weigh every word.  This is an interesting analogy used to describe how the wise will take the information they have been given and put it to the test before they jump to conclusions or make a decision to act. In essence, to sift means to separate the "coarse" from the "fine".  In my younger years, I would observe mom and grandma using something when they baked which we seldom use anymore - a sifter.  They would shovel the flour into the device, then put it through the paces of the back and forth movement within this contraption in order to remove the "lumps" from the flour.  Why? It have the consistency of their baked goods a smoothness.  Sifting produces a higher quality of product.  

Sifting our "input" is important because we come to the place of removing the things which will "disturb" the consistency of our walk.  When we remove the "coarse" things, we are leaving behind the stuff which really should not be part of our lives in the first place.  At surface value, what we leave behind may not seem like much, but in reality, even the smallest "lump" affects the whole.  If you have ever eaten gravy with lumps in it, you know what I mean! The idea of weighing what it is we are "taking in" is also part of this analogy. In essence, when we sift the coarse from the fine, we are then left with what is the best information by which we are to make decisions.

I know some people who make decisions based upon a "pro" or "con" situation.  In reality, this is not always the most reliable means by which to make life decisions.  Although it may give us an idea of what may be okay versus not so beneficial in a circumstance, we rarely have the time to make our lists of pros/cons when decisions are needed.  We need to act on our feet and this method doesn't allow for this.  So, learning to make a quick judgment based upon the "weight" of the information we have is important.  The best "counter-weight" to what we are considering is truth - the truth contained in God's word.

This is why we are encouraged to be students of the Word.  To have access to the right counter-weights, we have to know what they are.  When we are fed a line we might not realize as untrue at first can quickly be compared to the counter-weight of what we know to be true as we have discovered in our study of the Word.  For example, if we know the truth that God loves us beyond measure, then we are fed the untruth that God has abandoned us at this moment, we can dismiss the thought of abandonment as contrary to what we know to be true about our heavenly Father.  

God doesn't want gullible kids.  He gives us truth to protect us from making decisions based upon a lack of information, experience, or judgment.  When we take truth in, we are developing the best means by which to exercise sound judgment, incorporate good actions which will lead to positive experiences, and file away information we can use time and time again to counter deception in our lives.  Just sayin!

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