Proverbs 26:11 As a dog returns to its vomit, so also a fool repeats his foolishness.
My friend Don Bird, answering the phone to someone asking for donations to help out at the local dog shelter, said, “You’re barking up the wrong tree.“ Yes, I thought it was funny too.
I have noticed a lot of people barking and howling up a whole bunch of trees during this time of contagion and electoral mayhem. The sheer volume of facts and figures as well as the quantity of misinformation keeps coming at us all day long. Information overload is weighing down the psyche of many citizens and the result is confusion in all areas of life. It is hard to believe anything being reported because of the ever-changing whims of those who are in charge of our official departments and the agendas of the broadcasting corporations.
This is nothing new. The Apostle Paul had to deal with religious information overload that was making its way throughout the new churches that were being established at the time. Paul warned the people to beware of dogs and what they were promoting. Phil. 3:2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. The old teachers of the law and the power-hungry of that day were literally barking up the wrong tree when it came to the doctrines being taught concerning the need for circumcision to be saved.
Even though the new covenant no longer required circumcision to be a part of the formal relationship with God, the doctrine was still being taught and was causing problems for the new church. This law was no longer required to be in fellowship with God. Those who boasted of having all the answers to knowing God could not resolve in their own hearts the new covenant changes that were taking place. They insisted on barking up the wrong tree because they kept returning to their old ways regardless of the fact that God was now going in another direction. Prov. 26:11 As a dog returns to its vomit, so also a fool repeats his foolishness.
There was a mixed message being broadcast and the people were confused. The New Testament of the Lord was bringing into the world new freedom and deliverance through Christ for all souls and the old teachers could not handle the simple message. The religious ruling class were losing their authority and grip on power over the people of that day. To maintain power and the old teachings, some of these unscrupulous teachers started forging letters to look like Paul had written them declaring the need for circumcision to be saved.
Paul had to make it clear when he wrote to the churches that he was actually doing the writing. 2Thes. 3:17 Here is my greeting in my own handwriting—Paul. I do this in all my letters to prove they are from me. Gal. 6:11 Look at what large letters I use as I write to you in my own handwriting. As odd as it sounds, Paul had to deal with fake news.
The Apostle Paul and the Christians of the day lived in a time of great historical transformation. The misinformation was rampant and had to be dealt with, and lived through. We have to do the same thing today. We have to reconcile our daily information by asking God to make it clear to us what is important and what is fluff. As the Apostle Paul put it, we have to be wise when it comes to the doctrine of dogs. We have to look at who is mutilating the information for their own ends. We must not join the pack and find ourselves barking up the wrong tree.
This is the criteria God gives us to filter our everyday information. Phil. 4:8 Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy — dwell on these things. Let us dwell on the things that give us life and ask God to show us plainly what is needed to go forward in our daily walk with Christ. Don’t be a dog returning to the mess the world is dishing out all day long. We were made for better things and ways. May God’s grace keep us clean and blessed.