Life is replete with ‘false positives’.
A false positive error, or in short a false positive, commonly called a “false alarm“, is a result that indicates a given condition exists, when it does not. For example, in the case of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf“, the condition tested for was “is there a wolf near the herd?”; the shepherd at first wrongly indicated there was one, by calling “Wolf, wolf!”
As I approach my 65th “belly-button” birthday, I better realize how foolishly I have lived my life. Of course, I understand that this is a common and natural part of the process of ‘growing up’ to maturity.
Now that I have more days behind me than I do ahead of me, I can retrospectively see that a lot of what I thought I had to be and a lot of things I thought I needed to have in order for me to be happy and whole, were actually ‘false positives’.
You see, I believed a lot of things that simply were not true. Some of what I believed came from what I was told — either directly or indirectly. Some was from what I observed in my daily life or what was in the media (books, magazines, TV, movies, etc.). Most of it was from what I falsely conceived as being essential to my happiness and social well-being; such as my outward appearance (attire, haircut, etc) and personal perspective (most especially, those which garnered approval and acceptance).
In all reality, I was never truly myself and none of it brought me enduring satisfaction or a sense of well-being within. I was simply a chameleon trying to fit into my environment. Eventually, I became so adept at adopting that which was false, I came to believe that it was true. Real, lasting, enduring truth, was beyond my grasp and comprehension, so I settled for the easy and the false. It became my reality and eventually destroyed me. You see, one can only eat and drink illusion for a limited time without spiritually starving to death and dying of spiritual thirst! And what a slow, prolonged, painful death it is!
I literally could go on and on with example upon example of all the things we think will make us feel better about ourselves that simply are not true! Sure, we may feel better for a time, but it is usually very brief and leaves us wanting more — especially when it comes to material things. But the same holds true for other aspects of our life — especially when we put a higher value on them than is reasonable and sane.
- That Dream Job: Pays well, but requires long hours, lots of stress (both on and off the job), time away from friends and family. Turns out to be unsatisfying.
- The Perfect Marriage/Relationship: While dating/courting everything seems perfect and wonderful. A few years later you’re at each other’s throat constantly and wonder what you ever saw in them.
- Being Your Own Boss/Becoming Independently Wealthy: Talk to the Bill Gates and Warren Buffets of the world. They will tell you it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Even the lifestyle of the rich and famous gets to be old hat and loses its luster. You can’t take it with you when you go, and in all truth, you really wouldn’t want to anyway, because you’ve grown sick and tired of it all.
There are a lot of things we think we must have, that in the long run, prove to be nothing more than worthless trinkets and shiny baubles. If you want to know what is of great and lasting value — what is truly worth spending your life pursuing, then read Matthew, chapter 13 and related texts.
The examples I gave above are some of the most obvious ways we can get caught up in all the false promises this world has to offer. Even more dangerous are all the little ‘false positives’ that have an even greater impact on our life and the true condition of our heart. You know those little things that are shiny, attractive, and are so easy to get caught up in, because so many people practice these deadly, harmful, principles and tactics.
- What do you do for entertainment?
- What type of content do you like to read the most?
- What type of music do you listen to?
- What programs do you watch on TV?
- What kind of movies do you watch?
- What do you talk about with your friends and coworkers?
Be honest. Do those activities draw you closer to God or distract you away from Him?
- Do you treat everyone the same? Do you treat some people more kindly or more rudely than others? (James 2)
- Do you prejudge people based upon their appearance? (John 7:24, 1 Samuel 16:7)
- Do you prefer to participate in social activities with people who do not challenge you? (Proverbs 27:5-6)
- Do you consistently seek to reach out to others less fortunate than you? Do you regularly go out of your way to be of service to people whom you do not know and would normally not associate with? (Luke 10:25-37)
- Do you gossip and/or talk poorly about select individuals or people groups? (Proverbs 16:28)
- Do you claim to be Christian but still act like those who do not know Christ? (1 John 3:5-10)
- Do you strive to be holy as God is holy? (1 Peter 1:15-16)
- Is your walk of faith in Christ more important to you than political issues, sporting events, or what’s happening in Hollywood? (1 Peter 1:13-14)
I know people don’t like it when I ask these types of questions, because it makes them very uncomfortable. Many of us don’t like the conviction of the Holy Spirit upon our heart when we are asked to consider what kind of fruit our tree of life is producing. And to be honest, I don’t like it anymore than you do when I find myself “in the hot seat” being convicted of my shortcomings.
“The Truth Hurts” is more than just an old saying. When God reveals to us the true condition of our heart, it hurts. It hurts because we know it is true and it reveals to us our need to turn from our rebellious ways and surrender to God’s design for us — or die eternally separated from our Creator, our Father, the love of our life. To be cut off from God is the worst hell imaginable.
And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time as “foreigners in the land.”
For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days.
Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters.
Love each other deeply with all your heart. For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. As the Scriptures say, “People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. But the word of the Lord remains forever.” And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.
1 Peter 1:17-25 (NLT2)