- From the Cedar Street Times, Pacific Grove
What Does God Say About Opinions?
Merriam-Webster defines an opinion as: “a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter” or “a belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge” or “a formal expression of judgment or advice by an expert.” So, even experts are only sharing their opinions, albeit more educated ones.
Opinions become rigid when we isolate ourselves, Prov 18:1, “Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom.” In our modern society, we can surround ourselves with the voices of like-minded people, who willingly share their opinions as facts, but this serves only to move us further and further from the truth. We hide the fact we are becoming less tolerant by the appearance of being more inclusive, but the reality is we are only hiding any truth that conflicts with our opinions. God wonders aloud for our benefit, Gal 1:10, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” But, God has already given us His answer, Prov 18:2, “A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.”
God asks us to test the opinions we have, or hear, against His truth, 1 Kgs 18:21, “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” Only when we compare our opinions with the Word of God, will we be able to discern the real truth that God has given to everyone, for no person has a private interpretation of it, 2 Pet 1:20, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” Any of us can read the Bible and gain understanding with the help of the Holy Ghost, Jn 14:26, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” We do not have to depend on pastors, priests, or people like me to give us their opinion; we can test what they have told us by inviting the Comforter to help us reason with His Word on any issue. The Comforter does not make things up, He is not guiding us to His opinion; He can only repeat the Word of God given Him by Jesus.
Only the open mind receives the truth necessary to correct misinterpretations, Rom 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” The discernment we need, to keep us from the wrong path, comes from that still small voice who guides us, Jn 16:13, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”
We are to share the truth Jesus is teaching us, but never to the point of quarreling over opinions, Rom 14:1, “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” Instead, we are to reason together, by inviting the Holy Spirit into our reasoning, until our opinions dissolve into a common understanding of God’s Truth, Rom 14:13, “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.” Blindly accepting someone’s opinion over the Word of God only leads us away from God, Jn 12:43, “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” It is only when we reason together with the Word of God that we finally can separate opinion from truth, as God has invited us to do, Is 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
Jesus continually challenged His disciples to reason with the popular opinions they heard and the truth He taught them, Matt 16:13, “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” He was teaching them to think for themselves, instead of accepting some man’s self-serving opinions and preparing them for His great commission, Matt 28:19, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” which was the fulfillment of the promise He made them when He first called them to follow Him, Mk 1:17, “And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.”
Jesus warned His disciples about the self-righteous who trusted in themselves above God, Lk 18:9, “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:” for they were blind to their own sins. God wants us to be like the humble publican, instead of these self-righteous sinners who looked down upon the publican, Lk 18:13, “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” This publican was truly repentant of his sins and truly desired God’s mercy, thus showing his belief in God was real. God has asked us to focus on our own sins first, Matt 7:3, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”
We are to learn the truth, follow Jesus and the Word He has left us, rather than some human opinion of it, Gal 2:14, “But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” The truth leads us to His grace, Gal 2:21, “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” and His new commandment, Jn 13:34, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” We cannot love another when we are looking down our noses at them, Rom 14:4, “Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.” We will all face God, and our own sins, on the judgment day; and none of us will be able to compare ourselves to others whom we have looked down upon, in hopes we are somehow more righteous, Rom 14:12, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Our own sins will be our judges, not some human’s opinion of them.
Opinions will not save or condemn us, but rather our own decision to believe in Jesus, or not, Jn 3:18-19, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Lest our opinions tell us we have never sinned, here is the truth directly from God, Rom 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” anything short of this is but an opinion, Rom 12:9, “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” This is His final call, no opinions, and no self-serving lies, just the truth in love.
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