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’m betting your parents also had a few phrases they repeated that have stuck with you or guided you in some way into adulthood….
I think it is safe to say that most advice is intended for our benefit, but even the most well-meaning advice could be the wrong advice for us.
Perhaps none of your family or friends have direct experience with the sin you struggle with or maybe you’re uncomfortable confessing your sin to them at first.
The Bible has answers to your questions and so does God who is living and active and informs the Christian believer through the Holy Spirit of wisdom when asked.
Because, like Solomon and all the other humans in the Bible, I am a sinner and acknowledge my brokenness has been redeemed by Jesus on the cross. Being saved is a pure gift and knowing that I tend to mess things up on my own frees me to follow God’s lead.
“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.
Not only that but God’s wisdom leads us to spiritual maturity and the joy of eternal life by knowing God and what he likes and dislikes.
The best advice a counselor gave me was this: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV
For she knew biblically my heart needed healing and protection from the Lord. I needed to care for it spiritually.
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.
In contrast, 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 rely 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. 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
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