Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever. I Timothy 5:19-25 NIV
In Paul’s letter to Timothy, instructions are given for those in leadership positions in how to govern and teach others as well as for himself. Any good leader–knows they need to have the wisdom of those who know what they’re doing in order to lead others. Wisdom from above–is immeasurable and when followed–peace and love will reign.
We are living in an age where many people think that whatever they find on the Internet is credible. Those of us who know how to determine credibility of information know–without question–that not everything on the Internet is trustworthy and we certainly should not share the lies and falsehoods promoted by others. For when we participate in the spreading of lies–chaos reigns and reputations are destroyed. And then we are reminded by what Hosea said, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.”
We must remember that God sees all and more importantly, He knows our hearts and intent for everything we do. We mere mortals can only see what is exposed–not having the ability to read a person’s mind, but if we are careful to observe a matter and seek Holy Spirit, we can accurately assess information gathered and draw conclusions–predicting what happens next.
There are so many false news outlets infiltrating the Internet, that I cannot begin to name them all, but I have seen how they operate. Many of the URLs–include the name of the party providing the information and we know is skewed to favor them and impugn others. The real travesty is that when people don’t know how to discern the truth from the fiction, the gullible believe the fiction and will not hear the truth. When leaders–anywhere–but especially in the church–promote fiction as truth, they will have to answer to God, not only for what they do, but what they have led others to believe.
How do we discern truth from fiction in a news outlet? Look at the source–how many writers are involved? What is their source of information? What is the level of bias detected? Is this a true journalistic endeavor or is it simply a means for someone to vent? Blogs and most other social media posts are merely there for the purpose of espousing the writer or group’s opinions and many of those expressed opinions are not based upon any legitimate facts. Unless the site is an actual news outlet (NYT, WSJ, WP, or local news chains), chances are–what is said needs to be verified or confirmed through another legitimate source. The other method to determine truth of a situation is by the end tags–.edu, .org or .gov. Some–not all–bearing the .com or .net tags are not credible sources and need confirmation. Research the author of the site and their credentials or expertise.
As Believers–we should be able to discern truth from fiction by seeking the basis for what is said on The Word. Holy Spirit will guide us in all truth and we shall know the truth, if we have a mind to listen.
With the above premise–how can we then participate in vicious lies told to destroy a person’s reputation without seeking credible witnesses? Specifically, I’m referencing the lies promoted and advocated by Fox News, Breitbart, and Alex Jones. The things they promote are based upon fractions of truth–becoming whole lies–and there is never credible confirmation of anything they promote. Does not Paul warn us about–participating in the sins of others in his letter to Timothy? So, if people publish lies and we promote the lies, are we not just as guilty as the person or entity who started the lie?
If what we see or hear cannot be confirmed by two or more credible witnesses–we should not partake in the character assassinations advocated by false news sources. Do we not have ears to hear, eyes to see, and Holy Spirit within to direct us in all things? If so, we need to rely more upon Him than in the production of fake news, designed to destroy–not only the targets of the lies, but the gullible who believe the lies. Facts are verifiable, while fiction–is just that–made up in the minds of those who promote it.
If what we do does not promote love, peace and harmony, then we might to re-think what we’re doing and get our relationship with God right!