Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. – Acts 17:11
In modern evangelical circles the Bereans are esteemed as model believers that all should follow, and yes there are great attributes to them but also there are implications taken from them that are untrue. Firstly they were jews, meaning they were religious jews but not believing Christians. Yet Paul the Apostle states they had “noble character” meaning they had a sense of them that they were deep thinkers before coming to quick conclusions on a matter. They were willing to give others the benefit of the doubt. Secondly, we see that they gladly received the message, meaning they were teachable, willing to learn and adjust their own beliefs. They were not so dogmatic to think that they were perfect or not needing correction or perfecting of their thinking of the Scriptures. When they heard reasonable words shared from the truth of Scriptures they eagerly sought these out to see if they really were Scriptural and true. They were not defensive but rather looking to learn and grow in their relationship and walk with God. They were also diligent in that every day they looked to see if the things Paul was sharing was true. They did not just give up or judge Paul but were willing to listen to the other side of the story and not come to quick conclusions. What a wonderful picture of a people who in the end mostly “embraced” the gospel message, they certainly were “noble” and the Lord honoured that.
The Bereans did not spend hours looking for gaps and mistakes in Paul’s and Silas’s teachings but looked to see what was true of what they were saying. Modern believers who esteem Bereans think of these things in a different way. They look to diligently check things with the Bible so they can accuse and criticize another person or ministry. Most people are usually have their mind made up someone is wrong and therefore go ahead and simply look for ways to attack another’s character, calling and ministry. Such ministries are known as discernment ministries or even heresy hunters. Most of those who follow the ways of these “type” of Bereans are joyless, critical in spirit, bitter or even angry. Many believe they can take down the ministry they are accusing and feel they are doing God’s work just like the early Bereans. If you desire to have life and peace, stay with the Word of God and stay away from those who make it their life’s work to criticize and accuse others. Follow the example of the true Bereans who were happy and joyfully to rejoice in truth when it was shared and be willing to grow in our understanding of the Lord.