In yesterday’s article, we considered that one way to sort out a needle of truth from a haystack of lies is to slow down, and spend some quiet time (ideally, with God) to find peace. This is especially true when we find ourselves saturated with information from those who blatantly claim things that are simply not true (or cannot all simultaneously be true).
In addition to taking a break from the noise, we can think through the messages that get into our heads.
But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 3:14-15 NLT
After all, the monastic life of solitude is difficult for a lot of us to achieve. (While I think that it is still a valid lifestyle, it isn’t for everyone.) One way or another, false messages are going to get into our heads, and we need to know how to deal with them.
To think through something, we often need to slow down (as described above). Don’t let your emotions run wild. Don’t get caught up in the spiral of outrage. Pause and think through what you’ve heard or read from others in the last day (including this article). Is each message logically consistent? Does it match what you can observe? Is it coming from a trusted source? (Here, I don’t mean your favorite news station. Rather, ask whether someone has objectively evaluated this topic without significant financial, ideological, or personal bias, and come to the same conclusion?)
For instance, I saw a headline the other day1, claiming that exercise won’t help someone lose weight. While the headline was clearly clickbait, to the article-writer’s credit, the rest of the story identified multiple others who disagreed with this claim. In fact, the article didn’t cite anyone – except a single book author – who claimed that the assertion in the headline was true (at least, not without some conditions or context).
When it comes to slowing down and thinking through things, I sometimes struggle with both goals, despite being wired a little more “analytically” than “relationally”. However, I can also confirm that these practices help me sort out the truth from the noise. Getting away from emotionally-charged situations lets me think through things (sometimes requiring me to apologize, as a result). And, thinking through other people’s claims helps me sort out what makes sense, and what is just ridiculous (even if I believed it while I was being carried along by my feelings).
Furthermore, I have been able to apply these same principles to bold claims that the Bible contains. Despite those who make “fact-like claims” to the contrary, my own research – from history, archaeology, logic, science, language, and personal experience – continues to support what the Bible recounts. But, don’t take my word for it: read the Bible yourself (not just someone’s claims about it), and study it.
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 7:7-8 NLT
It is my hope that you will find the truth, and that the truth will set you free (see John 8:31-32).
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.