When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”
The announcement of Jesus’ birth was not to the powerful or the influential or the wealthy, but to the common people; to shepherds. What caught my attention, however, was not the group to whom the announcement was made, but their response to it.
The shepherds are told, by angels, that their Savior has been born in Bethlehem and that they will find Him wrapped up in cloths. Their response to this news is not “That’s awesome. Great news!” or “That’s too far-fetched for me to believe.” or any of the myriad of responses that so often meet the good news of a Savior come to rescue us from ourselves; to ransom us from bondage to sin. The shepherds’ response is “Cool story. Let’s go see it for ourselves.”
Too often, we are content to let others do the digging and the fact-checking for us. In some respects, this is not only appropriate, but mandatory — there is no way I can do all my own archaeology. However, I have come into contact with too many people who believed what they heard from someone else and never stopped to check the story.
What I believe is and must be anchored in truth. If what I believe is based on anything less than truth, then everything I believe becomes suspect. There is a principle that I have often heard repeated in the professional world in which I currently move: Trust, but verify. Trust that the person informing me is not going to intentionally give me bad information — it does them no good so to do. But verify that their information is correct — even the most honest person is sometimes misinformed.
Applied to God’s Word, the principle holds up just as well, if not better. I should not take what anyone teaches about The Bible as truth without checking it against The Bible. Paul commended the Bereans for this behavior and no writer in scripture ever condemns anyone for verifying that what is claimed to be the word of God is, in fact, in harmony with the word of God.
All of this boils down to this reminder: I need to trust, but verify. Trust what those who teach me are saying, but only when it has been verified against scripture. Trust that The Bible is true, but do not be afraid to research the things contained therein. Trust that God will speak to me about the things that concern me and verify that what I think I have heard is in harmony with God’s revealed word. Trust, but verify.