Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A LESSON IN DISCERNMENT


A LESSON IN DECEPTION

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Heb. 5:14 ESV)


The person that has the most influence in your life is not the person that you believe in, but the person who believes in you.
This statement, which was posted on Facebook 9/23/16 has drawn 2.4k “likes” and 1077 “shares” as of the date of this writing, 9/24/16.

The author is a popular, world-renowned speaker and writer, and is an associate pastor at a very large church out west.

The statement has a few problems, none of which I could see addressed in the comments I read. (Obviously, I did not read all 2400 comments. I only scanned through them, stopping to read a few.)

It is not my intent to attack this person. I only want us to gain a lesson in discernment by using this particular statement.

If the statement is taken ONLY at face value and applied only to this natural realm, then there is not much cause for alarm. However, it was obvious from the comments that it was taken to a deeper level than simply a mentor/mentee relationship.

Rule of Expectation
Essentially, the statement is drawn from what is sometimes referred to as The Rule of Expectations.

We most often hear of this rule being applied in the classroom as teachers are taught to not see their students as they are, but as what they can be.

Case studies abound proving the validity of The Rule of Expectations. For instance—
Two Head Start teachers were selected who were as equal as possible in potential and in practice. Then, two classes were formed from pupils who had been carefully tested to ensure that they were as similar as possible in background and learning potential. Next, the principal spoke with each teacher alone. He told the first teacher how fortunate she was. “You have a class of high potential pupils this year! Just don’t stand in their way. They’re racers and ready to run.” The second teacher was told, “I’m sorry about your pupils this year. But you can’t expect top students every year. Just do the best you can. We’ll be understanding, regardless of the results.” At the end of the year, the two classes were tested again. The first class scored significantly ahead of the second. Kenneth Erickson, The Power of Praise (St. Louis: Concordia House, 1984), p.56
The major differentiating factor appeared to be each teacher’s expectations.

If this is the main thought of the quote “The person that has the most influence in your life is not the person you believe in, but the person who believes in you,” then there is not much of a problem, is there?

Why is Dale even writing about this?

Good question.

Allow me to turn the question around just a little—why did the author make such a statement?

Is that not also a good question?

Assuming that there is no other intention here than just putting out a “warm fuzzy” (as is so common these days), what does that statement do for you?
  • Is it a new revelation? 
  • Does it cause a paradigm shift? 
  • Does it cause you to think differently about who is influencing you? 
  • Does it cause you to think about whom you might influence?

The last question is about the only one that makes any sense; and if that were the intent, then we should stop there. We have understood the author’s intention.

I’m not so sure we should stop there, though.

Please understand, I make no claim to getting inside the author’s mind. I am not assessing his motives. I am trying to give a practical lesson in discernment.

Judging by the comments that weren’t just “whoa!” or “wow!” I believe there was more to it than has been discussed so far.

Recall that this person is a spiritual leader. He speaks of spiritual things. His intentions are toward the things of the spiritual realm.

Therefore, I do not think it is too much of a stretch to say that much can be learned by the comments that were made concerning the “deeper” thought behind the quote.

I will give two quotes from the comments section by way of example—
“That should be Jesus! Because I know He believes in me more than I believe in myself!”
“The person who's [sic] opinion of you means the most to you will have the most influence in your life. Good or bad, it is our choice as to who's [sic] opinion we will value the most. That's why God's opinion is the only one that should matter, because the opinions of others are subject to the opinions of those they value.”

Discernment Lesson

If the intent was to make us aware that it is important for us to realize that “God believes in you!”, then we are faced with a level of deception that should cause alarm for any follower of the Lord Jesus.

Let’s look at it once again—
“The person that has the most influence in your life is not the person you believe in, but the person who believes in you.”

“The person who believes in you” seems to be intended to refer to God or Jesus.

Why is that a problem?

In and of itself, it may not be such a big deal. That may just fall under the classification of another warm fuzzy—God believes in me!

If that helps you in some fashion, cool.

My problem is that I cannot come up with a single reference nor example where this is the case within the scriptures. I realize that I do not know every verse of the Bible, nor do I even know every story in the Bible. I just can’t find anything to validate this thought.

However, if I can do some mental gymnastics, I might be able to extrapolate the concept from “God is love.” (1 John 4:8)

For the sake of argument, let’s assume my extrapolation is valid. God is love. Love believes (1 Cor. 13:7). God loved the world (John 3:16). Therefore, God believes in the world—me included.

Here’s the rub.

If we see that part to be true, then we must also be aware of the negated part of the statement—“not the person you believe in…”

If the last part is truth that flows from the negative form, then the statement is that it is not that I believe in Jesus, but that He believes in me. And because He believes in me, He has the greatest influence in my life.

This self-centered thought is summed up by another quote from the comments section of the post—"and therefore, believe in yourself."

Not only is there no scripture for this, but it also is absolutely contrary to the Word of God; and it is in that place that I find the greatest danger.

I realize that not everyone can see the inherent danger in this of how it could easily be taken beyond and away from believing in the Lord.

Therefore, I will just leave you with a few verses from the Bible, allowing the Word of God to do its work (1 Th. 2:13). It will be difficult to escape noticing that we are to believe in Him, and that His word is that which has the greatest influence in our lives. (All verses from the KJV)

If you want to see the verse, hover your mouse over the reference and the verse will pop up in a little box.

Jhn 1:12     Jhn 8:24     Jhn 20:31     Act 13:39      Act 16:31      Rom 10:9 
1Co 1:21    1Th 2:13     Heb 10:39    Heb 11:6       Heb 4:12       Psa 119:130 
Ecc 12:11   Isa 55:11    Jer 23:29     1Pe 1:23 

These verses teach that it is the act and fact of belief in Jesus that saves the soul. 

Saving the soul is not a one-off deal that secures my place in heaven. It is the full process of bringing me and you into conformity with the image of Jesus. (Rom. 8:29)

The greatest influence in my life therefore, is not that God believes in me, but that I believe in Jesus. (1 Th. 2:13 and Heb. 4:12 and Ps. 119:130)

The devastation of the quote under discussion is that it is simply one more thing that helps us to turn our focus away from the Word and onto ourselves.

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