“The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him.”
Today’s verse passage reminds us that there are at least two sides to every story. Very often we forget this. Very often we believe the first thing that we hear on a matter, especially if the source is alleged to be a competent authority. The problem, of course, is that even so-called competent authorities are not without their assumptions, biases, and personal agendas. For this reason, the Bible encourages and commends thoughtful reflection and discernment. “The simple believeth every word,” says the proverb, “but the prudent man looketh well to his going” (Proverbs 14:15). Jesus warned us that the last days of this dispensation would be typified by widespread deception (Matthew 24:4-5). Paul explained that “evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13). Throughout history the men in power have used their authority and influence to control what information reaches the masses. Today’s passage is an encouragement to reserve judgment on the things we are being told in our own day, even when they come from an apparently reliable source. Until we are satisfied we have all the relevant data, until we have heard all sides of the story, our uncertainty on the matter is well justified. “Let no man deceive you with vain words,” wrote Paul, “for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:6-10). John instructs us to “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). God would have us to test all things and hold fast that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The Bible is the standard by which we measure the truth claims we are confronted with. If they contradict the Scriptures then we know they are false. If they do not, then they may be true. Depending on how important the claim is, we are encouraged to dig deeper, to get as many relevant facts as we can. “See then that ye walk circumspectly,” wrote the great apostle, “not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). May God help us to walk in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7) and to rightly discern truth from error in these last of days. Walk strong and be encouraged dear saints.