There was a time when I used to purchase an extra pair of trousers with a new suit. Given that the trousers get more wear than the jacket this always seemed a sensible option. Then the day arrived when I went to wear the second pair of trousers for a suit only to find that the second pair of trousers was an inch and a half shorter than the other pair, despite the labels being identical. When I took the offending pair of trousers back to the store I was given a refund. Replacement trousers were not a possibility due to the discontinuation of that suit. The assistant warned me to always check the size of clothing and not rely on the label, admitting that quality control was not what it used to be.
Quality control can also be an issue at church. Theoretically, we should do everything in a spirit of excellence, given that we do what we do for God. I guess there is also a challenge at church to ensure that our motives are correct, and that we are using the gifts God has given us, rather than trying to use the gifts we think we have.
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24 NLT)
Then there is the challenge to test everything. Especially when we believe that God has given us a word for another person. It simply is not good enough to spout what could potentially be nonsense claiming that God told us to. If it is nonsense then it most certainly did not come from God. It is too late to suddenly realise six months down the line that something we said was possibly not from God. Using the analogy of the wrong trousers – no sensible human being would walk out in a business suit if the trousers didn’t fit. Not unless he or she had a desire to look stupid. We don’t want to quench or suppress the Holy Spirit, but we do have a responsibility to test everything. Before we open our mouths.
Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 NLT)
I love The Message version of the above verse. This says: ‘Don’t be gullible’ instead of ‘hold on to what is good.’ That reminder is reinforced in 1 John 4:1 (NLT):
Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.
We have to be careful. Scripture and the Holy Spirit are our guides. Sometimes we forget. Sometimes we are foolish, and sometimes we are gullible. Sometimes we are just plain stupid. There is no excuse for stupidity. Regarding the purchase of my suit the store could have invoked ‘caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.’ Fortunately I did not end up out of pocket, but God ends up out of pocket when we don’t do things well, when we fail to listen properly, and when we default to a position of human folly instead of carefully and obediently testing what we think He might have said. To do so is a bit like walking out of the house wearing the wrong trousers!
Image taken from BBC (Wallace and Gromit – The Wrong Trousers)