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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Psalm 139:17, 18 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!
2 Corinthians 5:1-5 For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.