Daily D – Matthew 7:15-16
“Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?
MATTHEW 7:15-16 (CSB)
When it came to the matter of strategic nuclear agreements between the USA and the Soviet Union, President Ronald Reagan had a simple formula: “Trust, but verify.”
The Soviets had proven they were wolves, not sheep, for most of the twentieth century. Soviet leaders killed millions of their own subjects in pursuit of their ambitions. They stoked turmoil abroad and spread their ideology to surrounding nations where millions more perished.
When American politicians of a certain stripe wanted peace at all costs, Reagan understood that made the whole world vulnerable to wolves who had proven themselves untrustworthy and aggressive again and again.
Today, people still use Reagan’s simple saying in all kinds of contexts. Church life is no different. There are predators, wolves who sneak in and destroy unsuspecting sheep.
We received wise counsel years ago against allowing anyone to work with children or youth who had not been part of our church for at least six months. We needed to know if they were trustworthy. We also had them fill out lots and lots of forms with lots and lots of uncomfortable questions. We wanted to trust new volunteers, and we also wanted to verify that they were sheep, not wolves.
Our concerns were well-placed as we have heard in the news all too frequently.
Kinder, gentler people and the churches they attend most often think the best of newcomers. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, or even 999 out of one-thousand, this is a good thing. However, one wolf can destroy a lot of sheep.
Notice Jesus does not tell us to live in suspicion or dread of every new person who comes our way. Instead, our guard goes up when newcomers are fruitless or ravenous. Trust, but verify. Learn to distinguish between spiritual immaturity and dangerous deceit.
Place protective boundaries to protect the sheep. Get some sheepdogs to keep the sheep safe and secure.
I will guard against the wolves who want to harm the sheep.
Our Father, we, the sheep of your pasture, are vulnerable. Please protect us from the wolves. Help us recognize them and guard against them. Deliver us from evil. Amen.
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Luke 8:24, 25 They came and woke him up, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to die!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves. So they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” (CSB)