If you aren’t familiar with Christianese, being a Berean is being like those dudes in Acts 17:10-15 who didn’t simply take the apostles words but they dug into them to see if they were true. So being a Berean means that you are one to examine a claim to make sure that it lines up with Scripture. (I’d also argue that what really made the Bereans special was that they received the Word).
It seems to me that when we talk about being a good Berean we’re usually thinking about assessing the claims of others that are brought before us. And we do need to be Bereans when it comes to the truth claims of others. There are people intentionally trying to deceive and some who are unknowingly in error. Scripture does call us to assess truth claims.
But I think we’ve wrongly given someone a pass on these matters. Ourselves.
I write a couple sermons every week. It’s one of my favorite things in life to do. Part of this is the exhilaration of wrestling with a text and trying to see it from multiple angles. Most weeks I see the passage similar to the commentaries I read. My insights aren’t much different from other sermons I read on the topic.
But sometimes….sometimes, I see something almost totally different than what I’m reading. This happened to me last week in preparing a sermon on Luke 1 about Gabriel coming to both Zechariah and Mary. I had a thought that I’d never heard before. So what do I do in that moment?
I rigorously try to disprove myself. And if I cannot then I will, still with trepidation, pose my insight as a possibility. I do that because I’ve been convinced by the Proverbs that, it’s better not to exalt yourself before men and then be thrown down (Proverbs 25:7). If the insight is true than it’ll take flight. If it’s not, then it’ll be squashed down—as it ought to be.
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Being a good Berean means questioning ourselves first and foremost. Just because I have an insight hit me like a bolt of lighting doesn’t necessarily mean that thought came from on high. If we really believe what the gospel says about our propensity to error then we’ll become adept at considering our words.
Charles Bridges is correct when he says:
To believe every word of God is faith. To believe every word of man is credulity. Faith is a principle of infinite moment. Eternal life and death hang upon it. But it must be grounded upon evidence, and it can only be exercised according to the character and measure of the evidence. An indiscriminate faith is therefore fraught with mischief. The world was ruined by this weakness. (Gen 3:1-6). And often since it has been the occasion of sin, and even of downfall. (Bridges, Proverbs, 180).
This is true of my thoughts and statements just as much (if not more) than that of my neighbor. Wouldn’t it behoove us to take great caution in not only fact checking the articles we share but also our own insights as well. This stuff carries infinite weight.
This isn’t meant to cripple us into saying nothing. It’s to say let us be cautious with our words. Let us weigh them and put them under the microscope. Let’s put them through the furnace and see what impurities melt away. If we’ve done so and our words stand then let us boldly proclaim them.
But let’s be good Bereans. First and foremost with ourselves.
This article originally appeared here.