Suppose that you were dying in the desert and you came upon a tent. Inside the tent were two people. One of those people appeared friendly, warm, and inviting. The other person appeared ugly, cold and repulsive. In front of both people were large baskets and inside one of those baskets was life giving water, but inside the other basket was deadly poison. The one who appeared friendly said, “Come and drink the water that is in my basket.” Then the ugly person said, “No, he is a liar. Do not drink of that bowl for it contains poison.” The friendly person replies, “I can’t believe that you are so unloving and impatient. Can’t you see this man is thirsty. Can’t you see that he needs a drink? Where is your love and compassion for this man.” So you ask this person, “Do you know if there is water in your basket” and this one replies, “I don’t claim to know everything, I’m just on a journey like everyone else.” So you ask the other one, “Do you know if there is water in your basket?” And he replies, “Yes, I know there is water in my basket.” Then the friendly person says, “I can’t believe that you would be so arrogant as to claim that you have the only water in your basket.” So this person turns to you and says, “Surely you are an educated man who understands that we are all in this journey together and that there is not really anything that we can truly know.” So the unattractive person says, “If you drink of the bowl that he offers, you will die.” Then the attractive person says, “I can’t believe that you would be so self righteous as to think that someone would die from drinking out of my bowl. Do you think that I am some kind of idiot or fool? Where is your love, your compassion, your concern for this poor soul.” So he replies, “I love this man enough to tell him the truth. I want him to live. If he will but drink of the bowl that is in my basket he will.” Then this man says, “Why don’t you test both substances with this litmus paper and see which is which.” The attractive person says, “I can’t believe you would ask him to do that. I’m offended that you would even suggest such.” Then he turns to you and says, “If you do that, then I will be offended.” So being persuaded by the words of the attractive person who obviously loves you (you know because of the words that he spoke, don’t you?), you drink of his bowl, but before the liquid reaches the back of your throat, you realize that it is poison and it is too late. As you lay dying, the unattractive person comes over and says, “you could have tested both of the substances that we had and known which was water and which was poison.” The attractive person lies dying next to you and says, “I’m so sorry. I was deceived. I just did not know,” but it is too late. Who was truly the most loving out of the two?
We each have something in our possession. Some have truth and some are deceived by lies. But there is a way to test who has truth and who has lies, by comparing the words that we speak with God’s words. The outcome of our decision is no less critical than the situation above; in fact, it is even more grave, because we are not merely speaking about our physical life, but our spiritual one and eternity hangs in the balance. When it comes to questions that affect our salvation, why would we seek to gamble with that by trusting someone who says, “Well, I don’t know all the answers, but this is what I believe, but I don’t really think that we have all the answers” yet appears warm, caring, and sensitive. On the other hand, there are others who say, “This is truth and you ought to believe it. And here is the way that you can test that what I am telling you is truth or not.” They give it to you straight, because they understand that if you do not accept it, then your soul will be in jeopardy. They warn you of the terrible consequences that await those who fail to believe the truth, and they point out the fact that others are out there, deceived and speaking lies about God’s plan for man’s salvation. Yet some criticize them and say that they are unloving, unkind, and lack communication skills. So it is in your power to test which one is speaking the truth and which one is not. Will you, fearful of offending someone, follow your emotions and make your decision based upon the appearance of love, sensitivity, and concern? Or will you, regardless of who you may offend, test the things that are said against the standard of truth that God has given to ensure that your beliefs are in harmony with reality? I hope that you would choose to test the things that have been told you by others, by comparing them to God’s word and concluding based upon truth that you can believe one and not believe the other.