I prefer to think that. But I do so in conflict with reality.
In actuality, I am embarrassingly gullible. Let me give you just one example of my most recent display of gullibility.
It was a couple weeks after my birthday when I received the following e-mail. The subject heading read, “Cease and Desist…sayeth the Lord,” and it read as follows:
I don’t know who you think you are, but this is a little creepy. I just registered a website domain www.sheworships.com, and my name is Sharon too. If you want, I’ll sell it to you for $1500. It’s a pretty good deal if you ask me.
Good luck with your blog and feel free to contact my lawyer concerning any legal issues of your continuing use of my trademarked ministry, She Worships™. His number is 917-270-****. Expect a courier to serve you papers on this issue in the next day or so.
Well I didn’t know what this was all about, so I started panicking. My parents were in Canada so I called my brother, Stephen, for advice. He told me I should call the number and just see what the lawyer said. Maybe he would clear everything up?
But that sounded horribly intimidating, so I e-mailed my pastor instead. He serves as my stand-in dad from time to time, so I asked his opinion. But before I even heard back from him I mustered up the courage to call the lawyer and hope for the best. I was literally quaking in my boots as the phone rang.
After a couple of rings a voice picked up on the other line and said, “Hello, Attorney’s Office.” That’s when something first sounded amiss–“Attorney’s Office?” What reputable firm would answer the phone without giving its actual name? So I proceeded to explain my situation, listening a little more critically to the voice on the other line.
Eventually I became more and more certain that I’d heard this voice before. As soon as I was absolutely sure, I said, “Stephen????” At that moment the voice on the other line erupted with laughter. It was my brother. Then I looked at my phone and saw that I was connected to “Stephen’s cell.” I had called his number without even noticing.
Stephen then explained that he had purchased the domain name for my birthday, and thought the e-mail would be a fun way to tell me. He had no idea it would take me that long to figure it out. And while I can look back on the whole thing and laugh, at the time I was very shaken. Even though I was grateful, I was fairly upset with him until I calmed down from the anxiety of it all.
In light of this information, go back and read the e-mail again. That’s how gullible I am.
Now what does any of this have to do with the Christian life? Well I wonder if you know that Scripture openly frowns on my kind of naiveté. It’s not that being gullible is sinful, but the Bible does warn against it. It tells us:
A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps. (Prov. 14:15)
There it is–Scripture calling me out on my personality trait. I always thought of my gullibility as a less than desirable attribute, but certainly not a spiritually dangerous quality. This verse, however, has compelled me to rethink that stance.
When I look back on my life, I have made some really bad decisions because I was so foolishly naive. The first thing that comes to mind is my naiveté in relationships–a guy would tell me that he’d “never felt this way about a girl,” or that he would “never let me go.” And while I don’t doubt his sincerity, I didn’t pause to ask whether he could make those statements with any credibility. How did I know he wasn’t simply infatuated? And how could he know that he wanted to be with me forever if we’d only known one another for a couple months?
But this gullibility can play out in other ways as well. Your friends may tell you that certain behaviors are right or wrong, even using Scripture to justify their statements, but that doesn’t mean you should believe them:
“It’s ok to gossip about this person because we care about them and want to help them.”
“It’s ok to spend your money on excessive luxuries as long as your heart isn’t attached to them.”
“It’s ok to go see this Rater R movie, even if it borders on soft porn, because we need to have a pulse on the culture.”
We accept these statements from our friends, never pushing them to see if they actually hold up. And it’s at times like these that we need to remember Proverbs—only the simple believe everything they hear, but a prudent person gives thought to their steps.
So while you might not be as blatantly gullible as I am, ask yourself how often you believe statements about Scripture and the world without giving any thought to their validity. The definition of gullible is “easily deceived or cheated,” so we do well to remember this as we battle an Enemy who is the Father of Lies.