It is surely understandable, therefore, that frequently we tend to judge an idea not on its merits, but according to how we judge the person putting it forward. We fail to separate the idea being communicated in a message from the person or entity conveying it. This commonly overlooked insight – one that is frequently missed by audiences, and results in them ignoring the expert in the room – illuminates a fundamental feature of the effective messenger.
They become the message.
Stephen Martin and Jospeh Marks, Messengers: who we listen to and why we don’t, 8.
Read: Jeremiah 23:16-18 (for more context read the whole chapter)
Some say, “It’s all good! We’re gonna be fine.” But what if it’s not all good? Jeremiah was surrounded by the pastors and speakers of our day, priests and prophets in exile telling people what they wanted to hear—that exile was a short-term deal. Many around us are only telling us what we want to hear. Some may even do it as if they’re speaking for God. Are we being fed empty promises? What voices should we stop listening to? Let’s pay attention to God’s Word and listen to him.
“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
In examining a teacher’s credentials, then, we have to examine both his character and his message. Bishop Ryle summed it up well: ‘Sound doctrine and holy living are the marks of true prophets.’ Then I think there is a third test which we must apply to teachers, and this concerns their influence. We have to ask ourselves what effect their teaching has on their followers. Sometimes the falsity of false teaching is not immediately apparent when we look at a teacher’s behaviour and system, but becomes apparent only in its disastrous results.
- I’ve found the book Messengers intriguing. It exposes the biblical principle of how humans give more weight to status and appearance when choosing whose advice to follow. Here’s an excerpt from the book, as well as a short video, and also a podcast exploring the ideas in the book.
- I ran across an article from the Seattle Times. I’m not advocating this guy, just thought it was sound advice in multiple sectors of our life right now, as seen in Jeremiah.