When I found out the late Reverend Billy Graham had a habit of reading a proverb a day I thought this was a great Bible habit that I wanted to adopt.
Although my parents are not yet saved, they have their fair share of adages that I grew up with, ranging from all sorts of topics like airplane etiquette to being proactive.
I think it is safe to say that most advice people give us is intended for our benefit.
But as I’ve aged I know with what dependability I can rely on God’s wisdom to steer me right. People can help us too by delivering the encouragement needed to guide us into God’s unique purpose and direction for us. But after everything I’ve walked through in my life, my heart says God knows best. Jesus knows best.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV
As humans, we have many questions about life, because there are many things we don’t see in our lifetime. Such as: when we were born, when we expire, who our parents were before we knew them, and why people behave in certain ways.
But God’s wisdom, and that contained in the Bible, is comprehensive and expansive to guide humans in all areas of life and to help us understand the weightier matters.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Proverbs 4:23 NIV
Before accepting Christ, I got lots of advice and because I was not yet saved, I overvalued the opinion man whether good or bad. Superficial or deep, I absorbed what people said like a sponge.
‘Outside voices said things like:
What have you contributed to society?’
‘You look crazy’
‘You should be happy to take care of your (relative)’
‘You should be getting all As in school…’
I actually adopted other peoples’ advice, comments and thoughts as if they were my own because I was desperately looking for guidance.
A lot of the advice I got involved the word ‘should’, but ‘shoulds’ without real care and concern rarely motivate us to change (Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend).
Or if other peoples’ shoulds do motivate us, they can lead to resentment and an unhealthy preoccupation: (that John Piper writes about in his book Don’t Waste Your Life) to be liked above all else.
When I was in rebellion and isolated from advice, I was relying on my ‘own understanding’ which God tells us NOT to do in Proverbs 3:5-6.
Why? It is spiritually dangerous to be relying on either of these two positions: relying exclusively on others’ opinions or on one’s own.
Being unbalanced in either of these areas denies God the ability to work and move in your life. If God gave us each individual personalities, gifts and talents we owe it to ourselves and God to trust in the vastness of God’s grace (demonstrated through Jesus on the cross) to let the Holy Spirit be the helper and guide of our soul as God intends.
The Good News is that we have access to God’s wisdom through Jesus’ work on the cross and by asking God for what we need in prayer and conversation. The Bible is our guide to see what all-knowing God recommends.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8
This verse shows us that God expects us to have a posture towards Him where we ask Him what’s on our minds and take proactive steps to follow what God has placed on our hearts.
God set the things he did in you for a reason and the world needs what you have.
God encourages each one of us to be discerning and prudent in our thoughts, actions and behaviors. Proverbs makes it clear that the wise embrace discipline and correction and have many counselors, only the ‘selfish‘ maintain isolation.
Proverbs indicates just how valuable wisdom is because it guards our life from unnecessary evil, sin and pain.
Since God’s wisdom is personal, proverbs makes it clear that we need to filter outside advice with a grain of salt – filtering in through our psyche and judging for ourselves what to do or where to go based on God’s will.
God wants to speak wisdom into your life regarding the dreams and questions you have, the path you take and the company you keep.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 NIV