1 Thessalonians 5:20 “Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.”
Most of us have experienced a time when we trusted someone only to find out they were wrong. A fellow student told us what chapters to study for a test, but we arrived on exam day to find out that nothing we studied is on the test. A boss assured us of a raise or improved working conditions that never panned out. These things are very discouraging but they are nothing compared to believing what a “religious leader” tells us is from God, only to find out that God never said it. To avoid these experiences we must . . . “Trust, but verify!”
In the 1980s President Ronald Reagan adopted the saying, “Trust, but verify!” This was a Russian proverb that a speechwriter wrote into one of Reagan’s speeches to help him connect with the Russians who enjoyed speaking in proverbs. Reagan frequently used this phrase when discussing relations between the USA and the former USSR during a very difficult time in our history. While we should display good will by putting our trust in people, it always behooves us to verify the facts.
This is important when it comes to taking tests or when choosing a job, but it is most important when believing what others tell us about God and His Word. Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, warned them not to despise prophecies, but to test everything and hold fast to what is good. Essentially he told them to trust, but verify.
The Berean church, which Paul visited in Acts 17, understood this principle. When Paul and Silas entered their Jewish synagogue, they received the word spoken to them with eagerness. But they also examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were true. After verifying the truth of what was being said many of them believed in the message of Jesus.
In Mark 7 Jesus confronted the religious leaders of the day for leading their followers astray. The Pharisees were hypocrites because they honored God with their lips but their heart was far from Him. They left the commandments of God to hold only to the traditions of men. They made rules for the people and held them accountable for doing them even though the commandments were not from God. If only the people had verified what their religious leaders were telling them they would not have made the Word of God void.
It can’t be stressed enough how important it is today to trust but verify those who are teaching us God’s Word. There are many false teachers out there speaking things that sound religious but are completely against what God desires. Many have been caught up in giving money, making huge sacrifices, and giving support to things that God does not expect from us or even agree with. That is why you must go to God’s word yourself searching for the truth. Any genuine, godly leader wants you to trust him, but would also encourage you to verify his message with the Scriptures. Those who want you to trust blindly are not trustworthy.
In the past you may have failed a test because you trusted a fellow student. Or maybe you took a job because your boss made false promises. These things won’t matter much as time passes, but believing a messenger of God blindly without checking the Bible for the truth is foolish. The eternal consequences could be very great. So take a lesson from the late President Ronald Reagan. When it comes to Bible teaching and prophecy, “Trust, but [always] verify!”