“Believe nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you see.”
The cautionary folk wisdom powerfully reminds us of just how much deception there is in our world. We listen to the daily news, assuming we are being told “the facts,” only to discover that the facts have sometimes been rearranged to promote a political agenda. We hold our hearts in check, not certain we should believe even promising reports for fear that we might again be disappointed. We learn to discount many things as gossip, unworthy of our time and trust. We do not want to be naïve.
But then we hear the Scriptures calling us to a kind of trust within our community of faith that at first seems hard to do: “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine” (1 Tim. 5:17). The “double honor” Paul invites us to bestow on those who minister the Word to us begins with paying special attention to them as they work within their God-appointed role of opening the Scriptures. They may know little or nothing about the tasks on which we spend our lives—farming, manufacturing, fishing, or editing—and on those topics they have no special authority. But our faith reminds us that if they are opening God’s Word with integrity and humble hearts, their words to us—from the pulpit, in the classroom, in the Bible study—may be trusted like few other sources of information in our world.
So I listen to my pastor’s sermon in a manner different from how I listen to the news, or a political leader, or even to a scholar. I pray each Sabbath for the grace to set aside the distrust I have learned in a deceptive world, and instead to listen with a kind of openheartedness that will allow his words about the Word to settle deeply in my life, where they may call me to repentance and renewal. The double honor I should show is known in listening closely, expectantly, for what God may say to me through the ministry of a dedicated servant.
Pray for the ones who handle God’s Word on your behalf—for their surrender to the truth they preach, and for their effectiveness in bringing it home to you.