When the Holy Spirit takes a hardened heart and makes it soft and pliable, that heart becomes loving and merciful in ways not thought possible before. As Bible-believing and loving followers of Jesus we want to be susceptible to the needs and cry for help that is found in those bound-up hearts that have not yet been given to Jesus. Unfortunately, there are those who prey on helpful and giving people. There are charlatans who are seeking gullible people to deceive.
Jesus instructed his disciples to be gentle as doves but to also be as wise as serpents. Therefore, being gentle does not mean to be unnaturally trusting. Being innocent regarding evil does not mean being ignorant of Satan’s schemes. We do live in a fallen world and belong to a society made up of sinful people. Let’s be real about it, even Christians do some really dumb things and cause others a lot of pain.
I do not know about you, but I receive E-mail messages all the time from well-meaning Christian friends who send me warnings of computer viruses and other nasty things. I have also received the “get rich quick” ideas and invitations to join some I’ll-help-you-you-help-me chain letter. Sometimes the forwards are things relatively harmless like the false rumor that CBS is going to take “Touched By an Angel” off the air, a particularly disturbing report that a political leader is out to persecute Christians, or a hoax like “never call the 809 area code.” Usually I simply delete such messages (and any attachments I wasn’t expecting) without a second thought, but I wonder about those that sent them to me. Sometimes the really juicy news stories are worth a read, but almost every time I have gone to check out the truthfulness of a “barn-burner” story I have found that it is not true.
It appears that old cliche is generally true, if it is “too good to be true,” it probably is. The same can be said of the negative stuff. If it is really horrible, and the only place you have ever heard about it is in an e-mail forwarded to you and dozens of other people, it probably is not reality.
Let me point you to some resources for finding out if what you just got in your IN box is real or a hoax. There are a lot of anti-hoax websites out there, and you can probably find some good ones just by using your Internet search tool. Here are a few of my favorites:
- http://www.scambusters.org * Good list of hoaxes, urban legends, and scams.
- http://hoaxinfo.com * A site designed to debunk E-mail hoaxes [No longer active as of April 29, 2014].
- http://www.scamshield.com * Learn about general (not just E-mail) scams and consumer fraud.
- http://www.symantec.com/security_response/landing/risks/hoaxes.jsp * Hoax list from the Symantec Security Response, the makers of Norton Anti-Virus. A lot of information about real viruses, hoaxes, economic impact of viruses and hoaxes, and related subjects is available on the Symantec website. [link updated April 29, 2014]
- http://www.snopes.com/snopes.asp * Topically organized urban legends are rated as true, false and undeterminable.
I have actually received requests for the give-us-your-bank-account scams out of Africa described on this US Treasury website: http://www.treas.gov/usss/index.htm?alert419.htm&1 [No longer valid link as of April 29, 2014].
Category: Living the Faith