According to Merriam-Webster, gullible means ‘easily duped or cheated’. Although I think I prefer the Wikipedia definition better. They say ‘Gullibility is a failure of social intelligence in which a person is easily tricked or manipulated into an ill-advised course of action.’
People who are gullible, find themselves standing on a bed of lies. They can be so completely convinced of a ‘truth’ that they are easily manipulated. We see this group of people at Lystra during Paul’s first missionary journey. Their initial gullibility is shown by their own history of polytheism. Paul and Barnabas are not attempting to trick or persuade them, but they suddenly believe these two men are gods. “‘The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!’ Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.” (Acts 14:11b-12)
Their first ill-advised course of action was of their own doing. They began to praise and worship Paul and Barnabas. Even when Paul and Barnabas try to convince them otherwise, their gullibility shows up again, this time through intentional coercion. “But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead” (v 19)
When your belief system is based on lies and myths you can be convinced to do the unthinkable. But when your beliefs are built on the rock of Salvation, nothing can knock you down. These Jews and the people of Lystra are no different that today’s terrorists, willing to kill someone who believes differently than they do. This is an ill-advised course of action but they do it any way. The Jews even subscribe to the Ten Commandments that includes, “You shall not murder.” (Exod 20:13).
[Side note; that Hebrew word תִּֿרְצָֽ֖ח׃ (murder) includes causing human death through carelessness or negligence.]
These Jews broke one of their foundational commandments in an attempt to kill Paul, just has they had done with Jesus and would eventually do with almost all of the other apostles (not to mention countless other disciples). All because they believed so strongly in a lie.
Jesus explained this principle this way.
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. – Matt 7:24-27
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