Several years ago, I received the following message: "You have just received the 'West Virginia Virus.' As we ain't got no programming experience, this virus works on the honor system. Please delete all the files from your hard drive and manually forward this virus to everyone on your mailing list.
Thanks for your cooperation, West Virginia University Computer Engineering Dept." (Incidentally, feel free to substitute the state school of your choice when you pass this on to your friends!)
I thought this was humorous and passed it along to several of my friends. Shortly thereafter, I received the following brief message from one of them:
"Done. Is that all?"
The thought that someone might take the above joke seriously and follow its instructions caused me a moment of concern. Fortunately, she didn't erase any files and was just having fun with me in return.
But that caused me to think about the many people who make the same mistake spiritually. Solomon speaks often in the book of Proverbs about the need to listen to the advice of others. He says that a fool is someone who refuses to listen to others. But, Solomon also calls a man a fool if he believes everything others say without evaluating the truthfulness of what is said. (Proverbs 14:15) The Bible refers to this process of evaluating as "discernment."
John warned, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1)
As we move along our life's path, we find ourselves constantly faced with issues of discernment. The construction of "new lanes" is neverending on the "information highway." Our daily challenge as Christians is to know which exit to take.
My prayer for each of you is the same one that Paul offered on behalf of the Philippians: "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment ..." (Philippians 1:9)