Friday, August 09, 2013

Wise Counsel

Life does not happen without bumps and bruises. Thanks to our fallen nature, we often find ourselves in situations where we're faced with drastic decisions that can make or break business deals, scholastic or career paths, relationships and more. At these uncertain times where we may feel confused, lost or just down-right stumped, how can we maximize the potential for making the best decision? The answer: wise counsel.
"Plans go wrong for lack of advice;  many advisers bring success." Proverbs 15:2 NLT
As a human who's lived longer than a second, I've come to realize I don't have all the answers. Sadly, not only have I made decisions in the past without seeking counsel, I've also made decisions in spite of wise counsel. These decisions inevitably end up costing me time, money and pain. Oh how I wish I would have taken the words of Proverbs 15:2 to heart! Whether it was my pride convincing me I was more than capable of making decisions on my own or a lack of life experience, these past decisions persist as feelings of regret.

Fortunately wise counsel is everywhere! Or... is it? We live in a time where we are more connected and more marketed to than any other generation before. In an instant, we can access information on any subject, anytime, anywhere; advertisements for the latest self-help books, support-groups and leadership conferences bombard us at unprecedented rates; friends we knew in the past but no longer have real relationships with provide opinions about our lives on all the popular social sites. With all of the potential "counsel" that comes at us from all directions, how can we know for sure what counsel is actually wise? Surely, not all counsel is directed by God (1 John 4:1)!
"... test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good." 1 Thessalonians 5:21
In 1st Thessalonians 5:21, the Apostle Paul instructs the church in Thessalonica to test everything and to hold on to what is good. But what is "good"? As Christ-followers, we believe the Bible is God-breathed and is useful to teach us what is true (2 Timothy 3:16). To discern whether or not the counsel we receive is wise or whack, we must test the counsel we receive against God's word!
"Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage [...] people with good teaching." 2 Timothy 4:2
Receiving wise counsel is one thing; giving it is another! How can we provide wise counsel to others? This time, in 2 Timothy 4:2, the Apostle Paul instructs Timothy to be prepared to communicate God's truth to others at all times. As Christ-followers, we must do our best to consistently learn from God's word. By familiarizing ourselves with the Bible, we become sharper tools for Christ and the wisdom we gain from it can then be used to counsel others!

Are you in a situation where you're faced with a decision that can have drastic consequences? If you aren't now, the time will come where you will be! Seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33), pursue wise counsel and then, if the counsel you receive seems legit, confirm it as such by stacking it up against God's word!

Do you find that people are drawn to you for advice? Make sure you put aside time on a consistent basis to dive into God's word. When you do, not only will you be able to give wise counsel, you will be more able to test the counsel you receive!

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