By Michael E. Brooks
“Then he said to them, ‘What kind of man was it who came up to you and told you these words?’ So they answered him, ‘A hairy man wearing a leather belt around his waist.’ And he said, ‘It is Elijah the Tishbite'” (2 Kings 1:7-8).
Before the truth and significance of a message can be known, it is essential that the messenger be identified. On the mission field one frequently hears accusations and negative reports about co-workers and other Christians. Experience has taught me that many of these are motivated by jealousy and greed.
Some seem to believe that if they can discredit someone else it will work out to the informant’s advantage. I have learned to first ask, “Who said that? From whom did you get your information?”
Only when I become convinced of the integrity of the messenger do I take the message seriously.
In the story told in 2 Kings 1, the King of Israel, Ahaziah, was injured in a fall. He sent associates to inquire of the priests of Baal-Zebub, an idol worshiped in Ekron of Philistia, about his prospects for healing.
A man whom the messengers apparently did not know intercepted them and told them to return to the king and inform him that the Lord God of Israel proclaimed that he would surely die.
This obviously was not good news, but before he reacted to it Ahaziah had one question: “Who told you that?” When the messenger was described the King knew that the message was valid. He then sent for Elijah that he might hear it for himself. Elijah repeated the words of God to him and apparently Ahaziah was convinced of their truth.
We live in a golden age of communication. With telephones (land lines and mobile), television, radio, print media, computers, internet and social media, we have available more information than any generation has ever before had access to.
One can search for answers to virtually any question and receive them almost immediately. In many ways this is a great blessing.
But caution is required. Just because something is in print or on the web is no guarantee of its truthfulness. Rumors and lies are spread just as quickly and widely as is fact. Much that is circulated is simply false. Let us beware of believing and retelling such lies.
Document, investigate, and be skeptical of any accusation until such processes are complete. A good rule is to never act on any information until you have at least verified its source and confirmed that the source is reliable. “They said it” is not acceptable.
By Michael E. Brooks