Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple (naïve people – NIV). For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil. – Romans 16:17-19.

John Meister began dating a co-worker, Kimberly Norris, in 2006. Just a month later John proposed to Kimberly and she accepted his marriage proposal. In August 2006, John and Kimberly were married on the Honeymoon Island in Florida. After the wedding, Kimberly continued to live in Tampa with five of her six children and also with her husband of ten years. John continued to live in Oldsmar, Florida. What!?!? Apparently, Kimberly had lied on her marriage application that she had made in July in which she stated she was divorced.

Kimberly told John that she did not want to move her children immediately to a new school and that renovations needed to be made to John’s condo. John was not immediately discouraged by this turn of events and paid for his new wife to have cosmetic surgery. He also bought her a new motorcycle, a new car, a diamond ring and gave her money. Kimberly received a total of $160,000 in property and money from John after their marriage. However, Kimberly is a bigamist having been married to another man when she married John. Meanwhile John has had to file for bankruptcy but still does not want Kimberly to serve time. As John puts it, “Part of my heart is still in love with her.”

One word describes John Meister: naïve. A simple definition of naïve is, “Lacking experience, wisdom, or judgment.” John is a very naïve person and as a result, he was taken advantage of by Kimberly Norris. Hopefully, the legal system will make it more difficult for Kimberly to take advantage of additional naïve men in the future.

Are you naïve? Most likely, you are not naïve about women or about men in the way that John Meister was naïve. Sadly, though many are naïve about spiritual things. Jesus gives us some advice about how to identify those who would lead us astray or would cause trouble in our churches in Matthew 7:15-20 where He says, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

You will know them “by their fruits.” Do they cause division by their words and actions? Do they cause offenses? Meaning are they hypocritical, quick to hurt or condemn those who happen to get in their way? Are they selfish? Are they serving themselves or the Lord? Do they give the glory to God or do they try to claim the glory for themselves?

Through the Word of God, we are given much wisdom. We do not have to be and should not be spiritually naïve. Study the Word of God so that you will not be deceived.

(You do not have to be spiritually naïve. The Word of God provides the wisdom necessary so that you will not be deceived.)

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