Receiving Wise and Godly Counsel
724 words, approximate read time 2.5 minutes.
Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellers there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14)
Last week at work I came across a challenging situation that I didn’t know how to handle. After some prayer and contemplation of my options I was still uncertain of the right path. I decided to write an e-mail to several Christian co-workers explaining my dilemma and asking their advice. The responses I received back were in one accord and confirming of the path I sensed the Lord wanted me to take.
Life can present us with challenges and decisions that are not easy to make on our own. We may pray about the situation and read God’s Word for guidance, but still feel confused and uncertain about the direction we should take. In these times it can be helpful to seek the counsel of other wise and godly people.
Two things the Bible makes very clear are the benefit of godly counsel and the detriment of ungodly counsel. “The thoughts of the righteous are right: but the counsels of the wicked are deceitful.” (Proverbs 12:5) Therefore it is imperative when seeking counsel that we examine the character and values of the person(s) of whom we receive advice.
Not only are one’s character and values of utmost importance, we must also factor in a person’s motives when evaluating the merit of their advice. Receiving advice from a person who has a vested interest or potential gain from the decision we make can lead us astray. The more subtle, but equally misleading advice can come from people who care about us, but give advice based on their own fears, insecurities or expectations. For example, a situation that would require complete reliance and dependence upon the Lord may make a family member or friend uneasy and unwilling to support. It is therefore imperative to seek advice from people who know and love God, seek His will and will be impartial to our circumstances and faithful to the truth of God’s Word.
Instead of relying on the sole advice of one person, it is at times best to hear from several godly people and assess the direction of the Lord by understanding where there is consensus and harmony. When the early church was challenged with a question of doctrine that was causing dissension and dispute, they decided to come together to consider the matter collectively.
(Acts 15:6) “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14)
It is particularly wise to receive counsel from an extended group of confidents when considering major changes in life or when facing significant life battles. “For by wise counsel you shall wage your war: and in a multitude of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 24:6)
“A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.” (Proverbs 1:5)
When we receive counsel from a group of people, we cannot assume that the majority is always right. Upon the Lord’s directive, Moses sent spies into the Land of Canaan to see what the land was like and whether the people in the land were strong or weak. After forty days, the spies came back and reported that the land “truly flows with milk and honey”, but that the people in the land were too strong to overtake. Only Joshua and Caleb had faith to believe that the land could be conquered. (read Numbers 13:1-14:10)
Therefore as we weigh out the counsel we receive from others we need to ask ourselves the question, “Does this advice fit the character and nature of God as portrayed in the Bible?” We should test to see whether the counsel we receive is true and honest, just, pure, loving, of good report and would glorify God. (Philippians 4:8)
Seeking wise counsel is a sign of maturity and humility. “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.” (Proverbs 1:5) Learning to discern the difference between wise and poor counsel requires discernment and reliance upon God’s Word (Psalm 1:1-2) and the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. “
(1 John 4:1) Ultimately, our trust should never be in the people who give the advice, but in God who through His Holy Spirit can use people to give us wisdom and assist us along the path of life.