We had spent a week in the Bobajaansberg Nature Reserve and Conservatory. This Reserve is constituted with about nine farm owners who removed their fences and form a nature reserve and conservatory. There are a few lodges within this area. We stayed at Izapa Bush and Game Lodge’s manager’s cottage that was gifted to us by the owners. We enjoyed a wonderful time of rest, sightseeing, animal sightings, etc.
The one thing I did not get around to do was a bush walk … so yesterday morning I went for a walk in the bush. All the roads in the bush are sand roads with some rocks and hard spots. As I left the manager’s cottage, I noticed fresh shoeprints in the sand, coming from the lodge towards the cottage. It was a unique print. I decided to do a little “detective work”. The prints ran out before the cottage and were intermittent further back towards the lodge.
Knowing everything around our vehicle and around the cottage was in place, I decided to walk through the lodge area, inspecting the main lodge, boardroom and chalets as all the guest had left the Saturday and the staff were all off. Everything was fine … except one chalet looked odd. From the angle I was walking and looking, it seemed as though a door was open.
The front of the chalets are all window with double glass doors. If you sat in bed, you could see out with a wide range vision. Should animals pass by, you would have the perfect view. The nice thing is that the chalet in front of you is quite far and its back faces yours without any windows so you have total privacy.
So the door looks open. I walked directly towards the chalet and found the door closed properly. This was an optical illusion. My initial perception was that the door was open, but in fact it was closed. We need to base what we “see” or “experience” on facts and not presumption. Presumption assumes something is true without facts! Far too often we presume something, only to become aware that things are not as we presumed at all. This might happen at work, school, home, with our neighbours and friends … it could even happen in the church.
Maybe the worst place for presumption is in the faith. By faith, I mean that which relates to God and the Bible. It is so easy for sincere Christians to be naïve and presume the Bible says things it does not say. Presumption could affect belief about salvation, doctrine, morals and ethics. I am certain you have heard people saying something like “the Bible says …” when in actual fact the Bible does not say it at all. The reason people say things like this is because they have heard a preacher … or read in a book … or seen something in a movie … all saying the Bible says “X, Y, Z” and they believe it because they presume the Bible is saying “X, Y, Z” … whilst it is not.
In 1 John, the intention is to help the readers to enjoy a health and dynamic relation with the Triune God and to prevent God’s people from following false teaching because that would destroy their relationship with God. Listen to the epistle:
1 Jn 2:26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
The false teachers were seeking to “lead these people astray”. It’s easy to presume their intentions are good. So what does John teach them? He is writing about facts, not presumptions (this is Scripture). The anointing most likely refers to the Holy Spirit, meaning that as they have the “Word” and the “Spirit” they know the difference between the real (fact–Word of God) and the counterfeit (presumption–false teaching).
We need to be like the Bereans:
Acts 17:11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
Even as the great apostle Paul preached and even as they received the exposition with “great eagerness” … they “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true”. That is the lesson teaching the difference between presumption and fact! Each believer ought to try and have their own Bible at Bible Study and Church and … “[examine] the Scriptures … to see if what [the preacher is saying is] true.”
You see, the way you examine the Scriptures will determine the way you understand the Bible and in turn determine the footprint you leave behind you. About 35 years ago we visited Durban Beach Front as a family. In an effort to keep the beaches clean the municipality erected signs all over saying, “Only leave your footprints behind.” In a spiritual way, that is all you will leave behind. It might be described as your character or perhaps your legacy … but I like the term “footprint”.
As I walked the road at Izapa looking at this strange, fresh, footprint in the sand, I saw other prints too (apart from those of animals and my own). All the prints are different. Most of the animal prints were fresh after their walking around at night. The prints I was following were fresh, but at places could not be seen.
But do you know … once the cars travel over the prints or the rains come, all the prints vanish! You will leave footprints in your church, family, extended family, workplace, amongst neighbours and friends and even at the gym, shops and bank. None of these will vanish quickly. You will make your mark … be it a good mark or a bad mark … you will leave a footprint. Here are two encouragements to help us leave footprint behind that will please our Lord and King:
1 Pet 2:21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps.
1 Cor 11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
Just think of the footprint Jesus left for us to follow … and when Paul says, “Follow my example”, he is not being arrogant, for he adds “as I follow the example of Christ”. So we have the Scriptures to examine as we are taught (sermons and Bible studies) to prevent presumption, and we have the example of Jesus for us to leave a footprint that points directly to Him.
O Lord, You have thought of everything. You have left us Your Word and Your Example. Help us to dress ourselves spiritually that the mark we leave wherever we are might point to our Glorious Lord Jesus. Amen.