Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. [Matthew 7:15-16 MSG]
The way that The Message renders these verses reminds me of the word 'hypocrite'.
The dictionary defines the word as a deceiver, liar, phony, fraud, sham or fake.
I have heard that hypocrite can refer to an actor playing a part or a role.
In other versions these false preachers are described as inner wolves who attack sheep.
It is a chilling image when you think about the damage that is done to the faithful.
A reminder that, as these verses indicate, we must look to a person's character.
That said, I can relate to being attracted to charismatic speakers and teachers.
For many years I was a part of a group that was led by a man who was very gifted.
I found that charismata, Greek for spiritual gifts, can sometimes hide character flaws.
In the years that I was involved with that group, the leader preached hard against sexual sins.
In the end, he left his wife and ran away with one of the group's secretaries.
Often preachers preach the hardest against the thing that they struggle with the most.
When I read "look for character" in these verses I think most about love and humility.
These two words best define qualities that I look for in great leaders.
Is their preaching filled with dogmatic answers or humble words that cause us to seek?
I find that I am more attracted to leaders who ask good questions that give simple answers.
Charismatic preachers seem prone to simplistic clichés and rigid formulas.
In contrast, a person of character is more interested in helping people to love God.
Lastly, I need to state the obvious: charismatic people are often people of character.
The issue is not an either/or proposition but one that is revealed over time.
Good to remember that Jesus was the most charismatic person that has ever lived.
Help me Lord to be influenced by humble people who know how to love.
... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.