How can you know what to believe?

In my book Proverbs for Kids, I walk through the book of Proverbs in a daily family devotional style. Proverbs is full of wisdom about practical living, and since I never went to church as a child, I value the things it can teach me about life--particularly about how not to be taken in by false teaching and lies.

For example, look at Proverbs 14:8-15:

The prudent understand where they are going,

but fools deceive themselves.

Fools make fun of guilt,

but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation.

Each heart knows its own bitterness,

and no one else can fully share its joy.

The house of the wicked will be destroyed,

but the tent of the godly will flourish.

There is a path before each person that seems right,

but it ends in death.

Laughter can conceal a heavy heart,

but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.

Backsliders get what they deserve;

good people receive their reward.

Only simpletons believe everything they’re told!

The prudent carefully consider their steps.

Jesus echoed something similar to this passage when he said that we should be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). Hebrews 5:14 says, “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

In other words, it takes wisdom and a thorough knowledge of God’s Word to be able to tell truth from lies. The passage above hints that we also have to know the bitterness and darkness of our own hearts to be aware of how they deceive us.

But knowing ourselves is not enough. We also must know God. Only then can we be prepared to recognize truth so that we can believe it wholeheartedly and distinguish lies so that we can reject them equally enthusiastically.

Set aside several times a week to dig deeper and get into the solid food of Scripture. A simple way to do that is with the Observation/Interpretation/Application method. Read a passage and observe everything it says. Then meditate on what it means in context. Finally, apply the passage to your life. That application may be an action, but it's more likely to be a challenge to how you think or what you love. Let the words do their work in you and transform your inner being.

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