Newspapers across the country took a break from the sad and depressing news recently to report an incident that surely generated lots of belly laughs. It is the story of a fellow who either left school too soon or paid too little attention while there. Closer reading could have spared him a lot of grief.

When a silent alarm went off on that fateful Friday night in May, police officers in Buena, New Jersey, went to a local pharmacy. The would-be thief was still inside. Jacob Collins, 28, was arrested on the spot and charged with burglary, criminal mischief, and possession of burglary tools.

As you might have expected, he was searching for controlled substances with high street value. So far, the story seems sadly familiar.

Collins' episode made the news for confusing the drug Oxycontin with oxybutynin. Oxycontin is a powerful painkiller; oxybutynin treats disorders of the urinary bladder. "Sadly, illiteracy affects all lifestyles, including criminal activity," said Lt. David Sherma of the Buena Police Department. "This suspect wasted his time breaking in to steal narcotic painkillers because he couldn't even decipher the labels properly, even through simple phonetics."

All of us have made the mistake in one setting or another of reading or pronouncing words incorrectly because they look alike. Then there are the celebrity lookalikes who generate careers because they resemble someone famous. But there are some lookalikes that aren't — not really.

  • Not everyone who has a title is a leader or trustworthy guide.
  • Not everybody who is a biological father or mother is really a parent.
  • Not everyone with money to burn is rich.
  • Not everybody with a nice house has a home you would envy.
  • Not everyone who is a church member is a follower of Christ.
  • Not everybody who talks about heaven seems intent on going there.

Labels can confuse us.
If we are not careful, we can be like the bumbling fellow ransacking the shelves in the drug store. Labels can confuse us. Something that appears to be what we were searching for isn't. And the worst deception of all is not in misreading others but in deceiving ourselves.

Jesus said it this way:

"Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven," Jesus said of those who would put religious forms in place of obedience. "Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter" (Matthew 7:21 NLT).

Talking the talk may look like faith; walking the walk is the real thing.

Again, Jesus said it this way: "... the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher" (Luke 6:40).