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August 30, 2010

Building Strong Friendships in Christ

Examine and Hold Fast Today

“But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;

1 Thessalonians 5:21

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Eternal Life

          Most people I know tend to believe everything they hear or see.  They love Barak Obama, or Sarah Palin, or Rush Limbaugh, or some other political figure.  For many professing believers, they spend more time on politics than they do reading their Bible, praying, or making disciples.  They never take time to evaluate what the popular person has said.  Instead, they tend to believe it because of who said it.  Likewise, when you hear a preacher on television or at church on Sunday, do you examine carefully everything the preacher says against the what Jesus said in the Bible?  No, most people just accept whatever they hear, because they trust the speaker. 

       In 1 Thessalonians 5:21, Paul commands you to examine everything that comes your way in life.  How do we examine something?  The term “examine” (“δοκιμάζετε“) means that you prove it, test it, demonstrate it, or discern its meaning.  When prophets spoke in Thessalonica, the content of their prophecy must be examined.  We must examine all things.  Consider even the interpretation of the Bible.  The vast majority of passages in the Bible do not pose any problem of interpretation.  Usually, the passages standing against popular opinions pose more of a challenge for some believers and they find some obscure interpretation to make the Bible match their current, popular view of some subject.  For example, the Bible clearly labels homosexual behavior as sinful behavior.  Likewise, being drunk is sinful behavior.  Furthermore, in the church, women should never exercise authority over men, or teach men; rather they should remain silent (1 Timothy 2:12).  Popular ideas try to change the Bible, but God’s word will never change (Matthew 24:35).  Only some interpretations of the Bible will change, but no Scripture is a matter of private interpretation, because it was inspired by God alone (2 Peter 1:20-21).

       Having examined everything, Paul commands us to hold fast to that which is good (“καλὸν “).  Paul gives us very clear directions for thinking.  I recently replaced a fuel line in my gas trimmer.  The fuel line starts in the fuel tank and takes fuel to the carburetor.  The carburetor has very fine holes in it that allow fuel to pass through in very small quantities, so it will burn properly in the engine.  Those small holes can be clogged very easily.  Therefore, the fuel line in the tank has a very fine filter, that prevents dirt or other impurities from ever getting to the rest of the fuel system.  You see, carburetors must be treated with care, because they get clogged up with dirt very easily.  Our lives are like that carburetor.  Impurities tend to clog up our lives, especially our thinking, which often controls our acting.  Paul warns us to filter everything that comes into our lives.  We must examine everything, identify the good, and then hold fast to the good things.  I often see my friends in Christ allowing all kinds of junk into their minds, because they do not know the Bible, and never read the Bible.  They prefer to hear their trusted source tell them the truth.  They trust CNN or Fox News to tell them the truth.  Stop it!  Only Jesus tells the truth all the time.  You must evaluate everything you read on this website against the Bible itself.  Hold on to the truth of God’s word.

       So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.

        ●  Strong bonds of friendship form when we examine everything and hold fast the good.

       ●  Strong bonds of friendship grow when we encourage our friends to examine everything, hold on to the good, and stop believing something just because someone they respect said it.  You do not have to believe everything your parents taught you, or that your pastor said.  Compare what everyone said to the Word of God, the Bible, and hold on to the good.

       ●  We harm our bonds of friendship when we allow our friends in Christ to think whatever they wish and clog their minds and hearts with lies.  

Application for Today

        Today, I want to examine everything and hold fast to that which is good.  I will encourage my friends to examine everything today, and let go of the bad, and unclog their hearts and minds.  Ready to start examining everything today?