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1 John 4:1-6, Testing the Spirits

Sunday, July 8

Testing the Spirits

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

testing the spirits

Most of us search the world for answers to these questions, “What’s life all about?” “What’s my purpose in life?” “Where do I belong?” We seek meaning and belonging at church, in our workplaces, online, at home.

I’ve become intrigued by yet another binge-worthy TV show, Van Helsing, about a vampire apocalypse (sorry, zombies). In it, a small band of characters is trying to figure out how to survive. But there is one among them that is murdering their own. As the season went on, I figured out pretty quickly who it was. Of course, it was the person I least wanted it to be… it was the most gentle, lovable, and vulnerable (so we thought) character in the show. So how did I know? The writers placed subtle clues throughout each episode. By watching and paying attention, along with my own life experiences and hyper-awareness, I was able quickly to put together these clues and determine which characters were on the hero’s side, and which were not.

We can sometimes reliably look outside ourselves for messages that guide us in our daily decisions. We watch what others do, their successes, their mistakes, and we try to emulate the things that work and avoid the things that don’t. We listen to our gut about what others are doing or saying, and how those decisions make us think and feel.

We can also look inside ourselves for clues that indicate whether our actions are right for us or not. We can look to our own life experiences, seek patterns, and learn from our mistakes. If we have been trying repeatedly to make something work and it just doesn’t, then maybe it’s time to try something else. If we have taken a risk and it has worked out brilliantly, then maybe it’s worth taking a risk again in the future.

Whether we look outside or inside, the guidance we can trust the most is God’s. What does God tell us? How has God’s presence in our lives shaped us in the past, and how do those experiences shape us in the present? Do our decisions hurt us or others, or do they hinder? Discernment is a gift we can use to test the spirits. We will never have it fully worked out. But we can certainly learn and grow, following God’s spirit of truth as often as we can.

Narrative Lectionary Text: 1 John 4:1-6

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is already in the world.

Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and whoever is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Earlier Event: July 7
1 John 3:23-24, Love One Another
Later Event: July 9
1 John 4:7-10, God Is Love