Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. (Proverbs 27:6)
The plans of the righteous are just, but the advice of the wicked is deceitful. (Proverbs 12:5)
Earlier in the week I promised to come back to the important topic of discernment (the ability to judge well). While we have clearly seen that God encourages us to seek counsel from others, we also must realize the only perfect counselor is God. So, if we are not careful we could follow the advice of those who don’t seek our interests or are well intentioned but provide the wrong advice. So, how do we deal with this potential dilemma? Ultimately, we need to always remember that if the advice doesn’t conform with God’s directions it is not good advice. However, sometimes determining if the advice we are receiving lines up with God’s direction requires discernment. Below are some practical considerations to help us exercise spiritual discernment. Some of these are taken from the one-page document on Counsel on the 40 Days of Discipline website:
- Prayer is always appropriate.
- Always test advice against Biblical principles. For example, does the advice align with the character and nature of God? It can’t be good advice if it goes against God’s word.
- Assess the motives and agendas of the person(s) providing advice. Do they genuinely care about you, and are they seeking your best interest (or possibly reacting to their own fears or insecurities)?
- If you need advice on a moral issue consider the character and values of the person you are seeking advice from. For example, does the person know the scriptures?
- For major decisions and challenges, instead of relying on the advice of one person, it is at times best to hear from several godly people.
- Be wary of counsellors who are quick with answers.
God has a way of providing peace and comfort when the advice is “right”, so rely on the Holy Spirit.
I am sure my list of considerations above is not exhaustive. What do you think? Share some thoughts using the comments feature on the blog site.