Watch Out For Wolves in Sheep's Clothing

By Marjorie F. Eddington

Categories: Guidance, Personal Growth and Progress, Sermon on the Mount

How do we tell if something or someone is genuine, truthful, honest, the real deal? How do we not get tricked by what we see, hear, feel or read, such as fake news? How do we not fall prey to the schemes of con artists:e.g., the telephone messages saying your social security will stop if you don’t call immediately, the emails asking for money to help someone in a desperate situation? Smart phones and social media make it quite easy for the “wolves in sheep’s clothing” to take advantage of unsuspecting good individuals on a large scale.

Jesus advises, “Watch out for false prophets! They dress up like sheep, but inside they are wolves who have come to attack you. You can tell what they are by what they do" (Matt 7:15, 16 CEV).

In our Bible Study this month, we read that “Watch out” literally means, “Keep holding your mind from.” We keep our thoughts away from false prophets, from those who would do us harm. We don’t let our mind wander and follow them a little bit, and a little bit more. That’s how we get tricked. Moreover, we keep holding, which indicates that this is something we do over and over; it’s continuous action. It clearly takes work, focus, determination, and commitment to keep our thoughts clear and free from anything that would take us away from truth, from listening to real prophets, from focusing on the good, from following God’s lead.

Emotions such as fear, worry, frustration, anger, hatred, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness are all false prophets. They lead us astray. They tell us that we have to feel a certain way because something happened, so we feel justified in revenge, etc.; or we may feel trapped. Such emotions always blind us—obfuscate our vision, cloud our thinking, confuse us, and keep us from seeing what’s really going on. They hijack our ability to reason, and we can get caught up in shaming and blaming rather than identifying the truth, annulling the lie, and finding solutions. And we may end up basing our decisions upon lies and having a pretty dismal view of things.

So what can we do? Watch—watch our thoughts because our emotions come from our thoughts. We think, then we feel. So what is coming into our awareness, our consciousness? Is the thought based on truth, or is it a wolf in sheep’s clothing? A calm state of thought, though—one that is loving and principled, forgiving and grateful, humble and wise, clearly focused on God—enhances our vision and enables us to see what God sees.

So how does God see? What are we looking for? When God told the prophet Samuel to go to Jesse’s family and find a new king to replace Saul, Samuel thought he found the one to anoint when he looked on Jesse’s eldest son. But God didn’t think so. God told Samuel, “People judge others by what they look like, but I judge people by what is in their hearts” (I Sam 16:7 CEV). Samuel had to keep looking (perseverance here) and even ask Jesse if he had any more sons. When David came in, God told Samuel that he was the one.

True watching requires that we look beneath the surface. We also want to look in the right direction. We may miss something important if we’re following after the wolves’ stories. Also, we can’t watch very effectively if we fall asleep, ignore the signs, or refuse to acknowledge what we notice. Jesus’ disciples found out what happened when they didn’t watch that night in the Garden of Gethsemane. I wonder what would have been different had they watched.

So let’s watch. We can help our family members watch, too. Let’s see beneath the surface talk; let’s look at long-term consequences of whatever is being offered as the way to think or act. That means we look at the credibility of the speaker or organization, at character, at motive, and at the means. If they are helping, serving, trying to find solutions, it’s likely that they are genuine. If they are playing upon our emotions, using fear as a way to get what they want, we can assume they are false prophets and not worth following.

We need not be afraid to confront evil, error, lies. We have the moral courage to stand up for what’s true. And when we stand for truth, we help others see the truth. That’s magnifying good and helping good to grow. And that’s good fruit!