10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:10-11)
Through the Bible: Acts 17
I was the speaker for a youth camp years ago. The crowd was enthusiastic and engaged. I was funny; I preached in a simple, memorable way. I was getting a lot of positive feedback, including more than the usual amount of kids shouting “Amen!” and, “Preach!” If you’ve ever preached, you know that this is like crack cocaine for the preacher. We get addicted to people shouting “Amen.” Sometimes we like hearing “Amen” so much that we’ll ask for it. We’ll say, “Amen?” just so they will yell back, “Amen!”
So one night I tried an experiment. I was preaching on the story of Jesus walking on water, and on Peter stepping out onto the waves to follow Him (if you need a refresher, go to Matthew 14:22-33). The kids were into it as I told the story. When I got to the point where Jesus invites Peter to come out onto the water, I said, “And as soon as Peter stepped out onto the water, the sea became as smooth as glass, and it was like an eight lane interstate opened up between him and Jesus. Amen?”
Now, if you know the story, that’s not what happened at all. In fact, the Bible says that when Peter saw the waves, he was afraid, and he started to sink (see Matthew 14:30). Nevertheless, a lot of the kids called out “Amen!” Just because I asked for it.
I used that to hopefully teach those teenagers something. I said, “No it didn’t!! Read your Bible!! And don’t EVER just blindly agree with what a preacher says from the stage just because he’s funny, or good looking, or because he asks for an “amen” and you just want to be polite.”
I love that the Bereans were enthusiastic and eager to receive the Word. I’ll bet they were a joy to preach to. And I imagine that they gave the kind of feedback to their preachers and teachers that Bible teachers thrive on. But they did it with discernment. They checked what their teachers said against Scripture, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”
Beloved, be Bereans! The daily discipline of time in God’s Word is developing discernment within you. By all means, encourage your preachers and teachers, and let them know they are doing a good job. Seriously, we love that. But do not affirm what Scripture doesn’t affirm. Examine your Scripture to see if what the preacher is saying is so.