Have you ever been taken in by a headline? It was just so shocking or attention-grabbing you had to watch, or read, or listen?
Every time we switch on the T.V., or pick up our phones there are headlines to read. Some true, some partially true, some not at all true. There are, research says, around 2million blog posts, 864,000 hours of video, and 400million tweets put out into the world every day ¹. Each comes with a headline that wants you to fully consume, digest, and act on their content.
What does this mean for us, then? Well, it means the headline and the first bits of information we take in are very, very important. It’s important to think, do I want to pursue this information, or not, and how am I going to act once I have? Let’s look at a Biblical model and draw a conclusion.
In 2 Samuel 1.1-16 we see David getting information, investigating the information, and then responding accordingly to the information, and it’s a model for us in our Christian walk.
In vv.1-4 David gets the headline – Saul and Jonathan are dead. He lets the messenger give the news, in full, before asking any questions or even before speaking. How often do we want to jump in and ask questions, clarify things, argue, or interrupt?
In vv.5-10 David actually checks and investigates the claim with astute questions. 1 Samuel 31.4-6 and 1 Chronicles 10.4-7 seem to suggest that this guy was not telling the whole truth.
In vv.11-16, David responds accordingly.
So David got the information, checked and investigated, and responded accordingly. If, though, David took the headline and acted on it after v.4 without asking questions, then this Amalekite could have been rewarded for his dishonesty, and David wouldn’t have had the full picture.
For us, it’s important that we look beyond the headline. It’s important that we don’t get caught up in and act upon stories that have a grain of truth in them covered with a large helping of opinion and conspiracy and agenda.
Let me say it this way – Christian, you have no business in the proliferation, promulgation, or proclamation of highly charged cultural commentary, conspiracy, or agenda-driven soap-boxing.
Let me make it simpler – Don’t read it, watch it, listen to it, share it, post it, or comment on it.
Let me make it even simpler – Don’t.
Jesus didn’t die to give you a spirit of gullibility, conspiracy, or susceptibility. He came, lived, died, rose, and ascended to give you a spirit of power, love, and self-control (2 Timothy 1.7). Believer, control yourself when presented with content that contains more falsehoods that verifiable facts.
Control what you listen to, watch, share, and indulge in (Philippians 4.8).
Control what you are fixing your mind on (Colossians 3.1-2).
Filter what you take in through what you know to be true (John 17.17).
Be very careful, it’s a slippery slope.
As Charles Simeon once said,
“Once a man engages in [controversies like this] it is surprising how the love of it will grow upon him; and he will find both a hare in every busy, and will follow it with something of a huntsman’s feelings.”
Simply, once you get started in this kind of story watching, this kind of keyboard-warrioring, it will be very, very difficult to stop. Use that spirit of self-control to regulate what you allow into your life, use that spirit of love to think of others before you post or comment, and use the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to keep your mind fixed firmly on things above, where Christ is.