What Does It Mean to Be a Wise Berean?

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Have you heard the term “wise Berean”?

Maybe you’re new to Christianity and have no idea what this means. Or maybe, you’re like me and you thought you knew what it meant, but years later wonder if you go it all wrong.

I grew up hearing about the wise Bereans and saw it was very well modeled for me in my home.

And yet, over the years I allowed the concept to morph into something dangerous, and even potentially damaging to myself and my children, and am realizing where I went wrong.

In Acts 17 we read about a missionary journey Paul took to Thessalonica where he preached the gospel and many came to Christ.

After experiencing persecution, Paul and Silas left by night for Berea where they visited the synagogue and found the men there to be “…more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”

These men had the amazing privilege of listening to arguably one of the greatest Bible teachers in all of history, and still went home to search the Scriptures for themselves.

They didn’t just accept what Paul taught, just because it was Paul.

They wanted to see for themselves that what Paul was preaching was accurate, according to the Bible.

This one, short verse illustrates for us some very important lessons that I have learned in my own life, lessons that both encourage us and serve as a warning .

I believe that in this age of technology, where we have every kind of legitimate and self-proclaimed Bible teacher, theologian, pastor, evangelist, Christian speaker, and everything in between right at our fingertips….

We must be very cautious — on more than one front.

What Does It Mean to Be a Wise Berean?

1. The wise Bereans were noble-minded.

This is not a term or phrase we use much today. In fact, when I studied this verse out, I wasn’t entirely sure what it was referring to.

Some translations use the term “open-minded”, but I’m not exactly certain this is an accurate depiction of this verse.

When you look at the Greek, and then compare it to our own English dictionary, you get more of a picture of their character.

That these men were righteous in their thinking, they were discerning. They were not simple, naïve, or gullible.

They could not be swayed by every wind of doctrine, because they were righteous in their thinking. They had divine wisdom.

2. The wise Bereans readily received the word

The Greek word here means that they received the word eagerly and with joy. Not with with skepticism or suspicion.

While these men were not naïve or gullible, they were also not skeptical and suspicious of the person delivering the word.

So often our fear of being spiritually manipulated leads us to become hyper-critical of the one delivering the word, so that in our critical spirit, we miss the very thing God has for us.

There have been many times when a pastor or Bible teacher spoke a word from God directly to my situation and need, and yet their ministry as a whole was out of balance.

Thankfully, I was able to eagerly receive the word that God had for me with joy and gratefulness, even though I couldn’t entirely follow their ministry.

Can God speak through a Bible teacher that I ordinarily would not endorse?

Absolutely He can!

But we have to resolve in our spirit that when we are listening to a pastor or Bible teacher unknown to us, to not have the attitude of “convince me you are not a false teacher”.

But instead rest in the fact that the Holy Spirit inside, and our own passion for God’s Word, will keep us from falling into deception.

3. The wise Bereans searched the Scriptures daily

Probably the greatest attribute of the wise Bereans was that they were able to receive the word with eagerness and joy, not suspicion or skepticism, and yet be cautious.

They were not cautious out of fear, they were cautious in their realization that we are all human and have the potential for getting it wrong.

They didn’t search the Scriptures out of skepticism for the teacher or pastor.

They searched the Scriptures out of a love for the fidelity of God’s Word.

Same action, different motivation.

And this is where, in recent years, I’ve seen my own imbalance.

Over the years, I’ve seen two scenarios play out before my eyes, that have enlightened for me the error of my own ways, and I believe God has softened my heart in this.

In the first scenario, I have seen families who, out of a love and passion for truth, and potentially a fear of being led astray by wrong doctrine, have developed a level of criticism for what they believe to be excess.

To be sure, there is a lot of excess and even foolishness in the church today.

But if we’re led by our fear, we will fail to receive the word with eagerness, but instead grow skeptical of every Bible teacher.

This becomes a poison in our own lives, and in the lives of our children.

And I have watched as children in these homes are cold and distant to the things of God. They are not eager to receive anything from the Lord, even from trusted preachers and teachers of the Word.

It’s as if there is a great wall between them and the vibrant life God has for them.

However, in the second scenario, I’ve seen families who have perhaps drifted a little to the other direction of excess.

Oftentimes they have followed ministries that lean heavily toward manifestations and even manipulation.

I’ll be honest, there were times I was concerned for them, that they wouldn’t fall for wrong doctrine, or a twisted theology.

But they didn’t.

The Holy Spirit inside of them, and their own passion for the purity of doctrine, would always pull them back to center.

But their eagerness to receive the Word kept them from becoming critical and hard.

And the most glorious thing I witnessed is that as their children grew, they grew to have a great passion for God.

Their children are able to testify of their own personal encounters with Christ.

They were open and ready for everything God had for them.

As I began to see these two scenarios side-by-side, I began to ask myself, “Where do I fit in these two scenarios?”

I was heart-broken to realize that I had allowed fear to make me critical and skeptical, and rather than receiving the word with readiness, I most often received it with supspicion.

Now, God’s grace – thankfully – is sufficient so that if we’ve been this kind of hearer of the Word, we don’t have to fear that our children will grow to be hard-hearted and cold.

But we also want to model for our children a joy and eagerness in going to God’s house — and an anticipation for everything he has for us.

I want my own heart to be both wise, not gullible, but open and not skeptical.

Free from suspicion, but not easily manipulated.

And this is what it means to be a wise Berean.

May our hearts remain soft and ready to receive God’s Word, and may we ever have a passion to daily search His Word for ourselves, so that we are firmly planted and not easily shaken by every wind of doctrine!


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