Sadly, many individuals eschew subtlety or conventional spiritual wisdom and suffer for it. Being spiritually naïve is an unconscious act of people who fail to appropriate the truth of God’s word. James once wrote, "Be doers of the word and not merely hearers only, who deceive themselves." (James 1:22) People who fail to make applications to the truths of God’s word are living a life of self-deceit. Jesus said to the Pharisees, "You err because you do not know (experience it in a truth and sincere lifestyle) the scriptures or the power of God." (Matt. 22:29) Let us discover what are the ways that we may avoid the errors of being spiritually naïve.
1. Jephthah made an unnecessary vow with the Amonites before he went out to do battle. That naïve mistake would lead to the death of his daughter. (Judges 11:29-40) Naïve mistakes have a way of coming back to haunt us.
2. Jephthah’s vow, although given with good intentions, was foolish. He did not consult the Lord or Godly counselors to advise him on the best thing to do.
3. Jephthah naively believed that God could be bribed into giving him a victory by offering up a human sacrifice. He failed to realize that the Lord cannot be manipulated.
4. Jephthah somehow thought that God would be pleased with a sacrifice instead of obedience. The Lord is most interested in obedience to His will. Do not run ahead of God in your desires to make a name for yourself or think you will win special favors from the Lord.
5. Jephthah had a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge of the truth. Be careful of serving God naively thinking that sincerity is enough to do the will of God. You need truth to do God’s will, in His way, and with His results.
6. Jephthah was required to follow through with his vow and consequently killed his only daughter as a sacrifice. He did not know that according to Leviticus 27, his daughter did not have to die.
7. Jephthah should have counseled with one of the priests. They knew the law and some of the ways that other acceptable sacrifices could have been offered to the Lord.
8. Jephthah’s naïve thinking led to other ignorant actions. The Ephraimites threatened to burn Jephthah and his house down along with the members of his family for failing to call them into the battle. Jephthah lacked the diplomatic skills, decorum and tact of Gideon who appeased these people in a similar circumstance.
9. Jephthah’s naïve thinking was expressed in his legalistic attention to details. Even after Ephraim had been beaten, Jephthah acted legalistically. He seized and slayed all 42,000 men returning home after the battle. He gave each man crossing the river Jordan a pronounciation test. If they could not say "Shibboleth" correctly, they were killed on the spot. He treated his own people as enemies.
10. Jephthah had experienced God’s mercies, but he failed to should it to others. Be careful of having a higher standard than the Lord in regards to others. Before you try to take the speck out of your brother or sister’s eye, first remove the log out of your own eye.
11. Jephthah tried to live life according to rules rather than by a trust in God. Our faith cannot be contained in a set of rules, regulations and policies. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight or even the wisdom of human beings. In all your ways acknowledge Him and God will direct your paths. (Prov. 3:5,6)