What can you do? The Bible gives some good advice on this matter. “Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word,” says Proverbs 14:15. This is not destructive cynicism. It is a realistic reminder of the need for caution. Only a very naive, inexperienced person is going to trust blindly every word he hears. With good reason the Bible proverb continues: “But the shrewd one considers his steps.” English playwright William Shakespeare wrote: “Trust not to rotten planks.” Anyone who thinks that the planks on a bridge over a deep drop may be rotten would be very foolish to step on them. How, then, can you ‘consider your steps’ so that you do not misplace your trust?
The Bible encourages us to test out what people say rather than just blindly accept everything we hear. “The ear itself makes a test of words, just as the palate tastes when eating,” it says. (Job 34:3) Isn’t that true? Don’t we usually taste food before we swallow it? We should also make a test of people’s words and actions before we swallow them. No one who is genuine will take offense if we check his credentials. That we should check to see that something is genuine is supported by the Scottish proverb that says: “He that deceives me once, shame fall him; if he deceives me twice, shame fall me.”
The apostle Paul advised: “Put all things to the test.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, Today’s English Version) The word used by the apostle Paul for “test” was also used in connection with testing precious metals to see if they were genuine. A prudent person always tested to see if what he was buying was genuine. Otherwise he might have ended up with what was called fool’s gold—something that looked like gold but that was, in fact, worthless.