Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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The danger of false perceptions

ImageI am writing this short article while Debbie is driving on the highway between Diboll and Fort Worth. On Texas highways it is common for the speed limit to be 70-75 miles an hour. If you were to be driving in a residential area at that speed, it would be considered very reckless. If you were driving your car at 75 miles per hour, and had to weave in and around other cars going only 35-40 miles an hour, your perception of your own speed would probably scare you.

However, when everyone is going 75 or 80 miles an hour, (especially if you have been going that speed for quite a while), the perception is very different. It just doesn’t seem that fast! As a result, you have people who drive in an unsafe manner, despite the speed. They may tailgate, give insufficient space between cars when changing lanes, fail to use turn signals, etc. At 75 miles per hour!

We have all seen the kind of damage that can be done when automobiles crash at highways speeds. Thousands of people die each year on Texas highways, often because people are lulled into a false sense of security while traveling.

There is a spiritual application that can here be made. In 2 Corinthians 10:12, the apostle Paul wrote, “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”

Paul was careful not to be caught up in any false perception of his standing with God. Others were not so careful. Their perception of their standing with God was influenced by how they compared with another man. Because they looked at his sinfulness, they fared positively in comparison.

In an extreme form, the fallacy is easily seen. If I murder another person, yet compare my action to that of a mass murderer, I come out looking good by comparison. No thinking man would consider that valid reasoning, and yet to a lesser degree this type of thing is very common.

  • I may share a juicy morsel of gossip on occasion to a close friend or two, but I am nothing like mouthy Mable who never passed up a chance to spread innuendo.
  • I may occasionally imbibe in some prurient form of entertainment, but I am nothing like pervy Pete who regularly watches pornography.
  • Etc., etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

Too, we will sometimes make the same mistake in our views of others. Some who teach certain doctrinal errors may be more palatable to us than others because of our perception of their general goodness, or the relatively benign nature of their particular teaching.

Paul didn’t fall into this trap, and neither should we. Paul cared only for what God thought. With regard to his authority, Paul wrote, “We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us…” (vs. 13).

Paul concludes with the application we should meditate upon, “For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends (vs. 18). This is an admonition needed by all. Are you listening?