When I was in the 2nd grade, I was greeted off of the school bus by a little Golden Lab mix named Jaz. Over the years, she became a close companion of mine. She’d growl at anything or anybody that she perceived as a threat to me and the family. I could wrestle and get as rough as I wanted with her, and I always knew that Jaz would never turn on me. With her, I always felt safe.
One afternoon I was at somebody else’s house and found myself in the backyard with their dog. I was used to playing with Jaz and assumed I could do the same thing with this animal. Tapping the sides of the dog’s mouth, I anticipated it to respond the same way. Unbeknownst to me, the neighborhood boys had teased him in the past, and now he wasn’t so fond of children. He jumped at me and sank his teeth into my forearm and clamped down. I screamed as this dog hung onto me until the owner came and ripped him off of me. For years, I had three round scars where teeth had punctured my skin.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
Jesus warned his followers that not every “Christian” teacher and leader are safe. They may look and sound the part, but are secretly dangerous. Many different people have come into my life throughout the years and poured into me spiritually. They have guided me along the narrow path and encouraged me when I fell. I trust you have mentors in your life as well. Pastors who truly care about you. Love you. Nurture you. Friends and family who speak words of life into you, pray for you, and enjoy sweet fellowship with. These people are not to be taken for granted for they are treasured gifts from God.
But just as I assumed all dogs were the same because I only knew Jaz, we need to be careful when we listen to or follow Christian teachers and preachers because we know our pastors intimately. They may use the same terminology, speak in the name of Jesus, and even quote Bible verses. But if we aren’t careful, we could get bit. And sometimes those bite marks leave scars.
Paul commended the people of Berea for they compared all they heard preached with what they knew in the Scriptures. If what they received didn’t line up, they disregarded the message and the messenger. The Bible is the only source of truth. And for that reason, we must know our Bibles. If we don’t, we are at risk of falling for anything that sounds good. The devil quoted Scripture when he tempted Jesus, and he’s doing it today with millions of people.
Be careful for wolves who appear as one of us. They are deceptive and will use you to benefit themselves. Study and know what you believe. Then when you hear a truthful message, you can rejoice and take heed to the words. But if what they say contradict, you can run and save yourself from pain, agony, and scars.