From the Preacher’s Pen…
Have you ever gotten advice that you later wished you’d heeded? Or perhaps you’ve received some advice that was later found to be completely wrong and worthless. Either way, we are constantly bombarded with advice. The difficult decision to make is whether it is worthwhile or useless.
Let’s seriously consider the choice of…
Good Counsel or Bad?
With experience, we begin to learn that good advice, good counsel comes from those who are truly wise and good and follow the way of the Lord. Bad advice comes from those who are evil, and its worthlessness is only exceeded by the worthlessness of those who give it.
While it is evident that God gave good advice to be faithful to everyone beginning with His “advice” to Adam and Eve in the Garden, the first time that the word for counsel or advice is used in the Bible is Exodus 18:19. Here Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, gives wise counsel about the practical way of dealing with the immense job of leading God’s people. From this point on God will specifically use this word some eighty times in the Old Testament for us to learn the lesson.
Thus begins the lessons of both good and bad counsel that may be accepted or rejected and the consequences thereof. David’s son Absalom provides an interesting example as he chooses to ignore the counsel of Ahithophel and accepts the counsel of Hushai (2 Samuel 17). On this occasion, God intervened so that what would have been good counsel by Ahithophel for Absalom and evil for David is rejected. Instead of Absalom defeating his father David and taking the crown, he follows the advice of Hushai who is faithful to both the Lord and King David.
All of this presents us with some important things to remember:
1) Wise and good counsel is from God! The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation (Psalm 33:11). Only with Him do we find the advice that is always for our good. I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you (Psalm 32:8).
2) We should also highly regard and follow the counsel of the godly. Not all human counsel is equally worthwhile! How blessed is the person who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers (Psalm 1:1).
A wise person will hear and increase in learning, and a person of understanding will acquire wise counsel (Proverbs 1:5). In this case, the Hebrew word for counsel is a nautical term used for steering a ship (also Proverbs 11:14; 20:18; 24:6). Godly, biblically accurate counsel will always steer us in the right direction.
3) When we follow God’s wisdom we become the teachers, the counselors of others for good. Counsel is mine and sound wisdom; I am understanding, power is mine (Proverbs 8:14). Indeed, the New Testament challenges the godly to speak with both the words and authority of God (1 Peter 4:11; Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Peter 2:9).
So, where do we get this good and wise counsel from God Himself? Paul first answers that question with where NOT to get it: But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them. (2 Timothy 3:13-14)
The positive answer is found in: …and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the person of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:15-17)
May we always forsake the useless human counsel and listen to and heed the wise counsel from God!
— Lester P. Bagley