My facebook friend, Dan DeGarmo, who’s also a friend in real life and a preaching colleague recently posted, “Give me a random piece of advice.” His post produced some funny and interesting responses:
Brandy advised, “Don’t chew gum found on the street.”
“Baptize upriver”, recommended Calvin.
“Don’t eat yellow snow,” wrote Rachel.
Jared opined, “Don’t get advice from mostly strangers on the internet.”
“Be nice to people with access to your toothbrush,” Ryan recommended.
“Don’t eat gas station sushi,” Brad warned.
Michael suggested, “Never refuse a breath mint.
Samantha offered, “Don’t cook bacon naked.”
And someone named Serena said, “The wife is always right.”
On the more serious side, Nate counseled, “Pick and choose your battles wisely.”
Ed said, “Don’t take any wooden nickels.”
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Jimmy shared.
And Tommy posted Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart.”
Currently Norma Jean and I are reading the book of Proverbs that offers advice about getting good advice.
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice” (Prov.12:15).
“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14).
“Without counsel, plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed” (Prov. 15:22).
The book of Proverbs exalts wisdom and offers advice on a variety of subjects and life experiences that provide perspective, give guidance, and issue warnings. If you haven’t read it lately, you will find its counsel timely, challenging, and still relevant to real life in the 21st century.
Surely most of us would admit the need for good advice as we make major decisions regarding relationships, finances, and spiritual direction. Yet, the challenge is to differentiate good advice from bad advice. This requires wisdom, discretion, and discernment. As the 19th century British literary critic, John Churton Collins, wrote “To profit from good advice requires more wisdom than to give it.”
The classic Bible example of failing to listen to good advice was when Rehoboam succeeded Solomon on the throne of ancient Israel. He rejected the advice of the elders to serve the people and lighten their load. Instead, he listened to the young men who advised him to increase the burdens on the people even greater than Solomon. As a result, the people revolted, and the Kingdom was split (I Kings 12)
Through my years of ministry, people have come to me seeking advice. I have noticed that most people come with preconceived ideas and often are just looking for me to agree with them. Sometimes this involves the interpretation of Scripture. It’s difficult to see beyond our biases and look at the Bible with fresh eyes. Writer, John Steinbeck, may have been right, “No one wants advice – only corroboration.”
I’ve often felt like Gordon Dickson, the Canadian-American author, who once quipped, “Some people like my advice so much that they frame it upon the wall instead of using it.” Occasionally when the issue is not so serious and mainly a matter of opinion, I’ve employed the counsel of humorist, Josh Billings, “When a man comes to me for advice, I find out the kind of advice he wants, and I give it to him.”
To seek advice and profit from it requires honesty, self-examination, and a willingness to change or alter our behavior when it’s needed. It may demand an admission of error. The reversal of a previous decision. Swallowing our pride. Getting out of our comfort zone. Adopting better values. Discarding old habits and acquiring new ones. And the self-discipline to apply what we know we ought to do.
Bible believers would do well to seek advice from godly sources. Well respected pastors, preachers, and qualified Christian counselors can give guidance to help you make wise decisions. Of course, always seek advice from someone who’s demonstrated expertise and experience in your area of concern. Not everyone who can offer proper spiritual counsel is equipped to advise you on financial issues or medical concerns.
Finally, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future” (Prov. 19:20).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman