Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Rejoice The Lord Is King"1 (Lyrics)
Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (ESV)
On several occasions this month, I have had an automated telephone call saying, "Thank you for making your purchase of a mobile phone with …". It goes on to say that if the item is not my purchase, all I have to do is to press "1" on the telephone to talk to the help desk.
It transpires that this is a blatant lie, a phishing scam to entice me to give them my bank details under false pretence.
I have a two-step verification process set up that sends a code to my mobile phone before I buy something. Consequently, I know: no code — no purchase. My bank details with the company are safe from fraud. Nevertheless, caught off guard by calls like this, it gives me a moment of perplexed anxiety. I ask: could this be true? The call is designed to seek out the unsuspecting.
It is prudent to be vigilant when receiving these invitations, and to call the help desk. If in any doubt, I log on to my details separately to make sure that I have not forgotten something. By now, I have come to recognize their familiar biddings.
We live in an era of one-click purchases or comments in the public domain populated by Twitter, Facebook, vlogs, blogs, YouTube, etc. For many people, their lives revolve around social trends and social capital, time spent keeping up with the Joneses and appearance. Again, these media circuses can seek to deceive by misinformation, fake news, and dangerous lies, with misinformation presented as the truth just for a click that makes, for them, satisfaction, money, or fame.
Media serves good, too, such as a video call to a loved one serving overseas. Media can enable online shopping for the shut-ins, someone leading discipleship courses, evangelistic outreach, education, do-it-yourself videos, or uplifting music, email, podcast, and video to get us through the day.
When desires, doubts, fears, and thoughts go to the centre of our being, how can we know what influences and calls are good and true?
Our online decisions and values can be held up to the test of Scripture, and, by prayer, through the power of the Holy Spirit, eventually we recognize unhelpful influences that we find there that we have allowed to muddy the water of our souls and minds.
Some Christian truths are absolute, and yet, we should not fall into the temptation to hate or dismiss out of hand the views of others. We can disagree and be tolerant without being sucked into becoming polarized, wilful, and fearful.
Let us resort to Jesus and Scripture as a verification service to filter out the false from the true. Through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, we can hear the voice of the Shepherd.
Matthew 7:20 – Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (ESV)
Prayer: Lord, we thank You for not treating us as our sins deserve. We thank You for always being there, always being trustworthy, always upholding truth, and always being our companion. In a world of full of misinformation, please enable us to hear Your still small voice in our beings to guide us through the storms of modern life. By Your leading, enable us to let go of the past, and give us the boldness and grace to change the future for the better by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.