Of parents often helpful:
When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah. – Genesis 26:34-35
Easu married pagan women, and this upset his parents greatly. Most parents can be a source of good advice, because they have a lifetime of insight into their children’s characters. You may not agree with everything your parents say, but at least talk with them and listen carefully. This will help avoid the hard feelings Esau experienced.
Always seek God’s:
“Then he blessed Joseph and said,
May the God before whom my fathers
Abraham and Isaac walked,
the God who has been my shepherd
all my life to this day, – Genesis 48:15
Jacob spoke of God as his shepherd throughout his life. In his old age, he could clearly see his dependence upon God. This marks a total attitude change from that of his scheming and dishonest youth. To develop an attitude like Jacob’s, let God shepherd you as you trust in His provision and care. When you realise that every good thing comes from God, you can cease trying to grab them for yourself.
Be careful about negativism in:
“We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, ‘If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert ‘ Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?’ And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.’ “ – Numbers 13:33-14:4
The negative opinion of ten men caused a great rebellion among the people. Because it is human nature to accept opinion as face, we must be especially careful when voicing our negative opinions. What we say may heavily influence the actions of those who trust us to give sound advice.
Don’t be too quick to reject it:
“Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, ‘The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.’
But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the LORD appeared at the Tent of Meeting to all the Israelites.” – Numbers 14:6-10
Two wise men, Joshua and Caleb, encouraged the people to act on God’s promise and move ahead into the land. The people rejected their advice and even talked of killing them. Don’t be too quick to reject advice you don’t like. Evaluate it carefully, comparing it to the teaching in God’s word. The advice may be God’s message.
Seek God’s even in minor issues:
“The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not enquire of the LORD. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.
Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbours, living near them. So the Israelites set out and on the third day came to their cities; Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath Jearim.” – Joshua 9:14-17
When the leaders sampled these men’s provisions, they saw that the bread was dry and mouldy, the wineskins were cracked, and the clothes and sandals worn out. But they did not see through the deception. After the promise had been made and the treaty ratified, the facts came out – Israel’s leaders had been deceived. God had specifically instructed Israel to make no treaties with the inhabitants of Canaan (Exodus 23:32; 34:12; Numbers 33:55; Deuteronomy 7:2, 20:17, 18). As a strategist, Joshua knew enough to talk to God before leading his troops into battle. But the peace treaty seemed innocent enough, so Joshua and the leaders made this decision on their own. By failing to seek God’s guidance and rushing ahead with their own plans, they had to deal with angry people and an awkward alliance.
How to carefully evaluate it:
Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. ‘How would you advise me to answer these people?’ he asked. They replied, ‘If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favourable answer, they will always be your servants.’
But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. He asked them, ‘What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?”
The young men who had grown up with him replied, “Tell these people who have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter’ – tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’ “
Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam, as the king had said, “Come back to me in three days.” The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, he followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.” – 1 Kings 12:6-14
Rehoboam asked for advice, but he didn’t carefully evaluate what he was told. If he had, he would have realised that the advice offered by the elders was wiser than that of his peers. To evaluate advice, ask if it is realistic, workable, and consistent with biblical principles. Determine if the results of following the advice will be fair, make improvements, and give a positive solution or direction. Seek counsel from those more experienced and wiser. Advise is helpful only if it is consistent with God’s standards.
Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all the Israelites had gone there to make him king. When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned from Egypt. So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and all Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.”
Rehoboam answered, “Come back to me in three days.” So the people went away.
Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked.
They replied, “If you will be kind to these people and please them and give them a favourable answer, they will always be your servants.”
But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. He asked them, “What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?”
The young men who had grown up with him replied, “Tell the people who have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter’ – tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’ “
Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam, as the king had said, “Come back to me in three days.” The king answered them harshly. Rejecting the advice of the elders, he followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.” So the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from God, to fulfil the word that the LORD had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite. – – 2 Chronicles 10:1-15
Following bad advice can cause disaster. Rehoboam lost the chance to rule a peaceful, united kingdom because he rejected the advice of Solomon’s older counsellors, preferring the counsel of his peers. Rehoboam made two errors in seeking advice: (1) he did not give extra consideration to the suggestions of those who knew the situation better than he, and (2) he did not ask God for wisdom to discern which was the better option.
It is easy to follow the advice of our peers because they often feel as we do. But their view may be limited. It is important to listen carefully to those who have more experience than we do – they can see the bigger picture.
Don’t seek God’s advice if you’re going to ignore it:
Ahab king of Israel asked Jehoshaphat king of Judah, “Will you go with me against Ramoth Gilead?”
Jehoshaphat replied, “I am as you are, and my people as your people; we will join you in the war.” But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “First seek the counsel of the LORD.”
So the king of Israel brought together the prophets – four hundred men – and asked them, “Shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?”
“Go,” they answered, “for God will give it into the king’s hand.”
But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not a prophet of the LORD here whom we can enquire of?”
The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man through whom we can enquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”
“The king should not say that,” Jehoshaphat replied.
So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, “Bring Micaiah son of Imlah at once.” – 2 Chronicles 18:3-8
Wicked Ahab asked Jehoshaphat to join forces with him in battle (18:2, 3). Before making that commitment, Jehoshaphat rightly sought God’s advice. However, when God gave his answer through the prophet Micaiah (18:16), Jehoshaphat ignored it (18:28). It does us no good to seek God’s advice if we ignore it when it is given. Real love for God is shown not by merely asking for direction, but by following that direction once it is given.
Test others advice against God’s word:
He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as the house of Ahab had done, for after his father’s death they became his advisers, to his undoing. He also followed their counsel when he went with Joram son of Ahab king of Israel to war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth Gilead. The Arameans wounded Joram – 2 Chronicles 22:4-5
Although it is wise to seek advice, we must also carefully weigh the advice we receive. Ahaziah had advisers, but they were wicked and led him to ruin. When you seek advice, listen carefully and use God’s word to “test everything”. Hold on to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Understand a person’s situation before giving it:
“Blessed is the man whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. – Job 5:17
Eliphaz was correct – it is a blessing to be disciplined by God when we do wrong. Eliphaz’s advice, however, did not apply to Job. As we know from the beginning of the book, Job’s suffering was not a result of some great sin. We sometimes give people excellent advice only to learn that it does not apply to them and is therefore not very helpful. All who offer counsel from God’s word should take care to thoroughly understand a person’s situation before giving advice.
Some need compassion more than advice:
Is tasteless food eaten without salt,
or is there flavour in the white of an egg?
I refuse to touch it;
such food makes me ill. – Job 6:6-7
Job said that Eliphaz’s advice was like eating the tasteless white of an egg. When people are going through severe trials, ill-advised counsel is distasteful. They may listen politely, but inside they are upset. Be slow to give advice to those who are hurting. They often need compassion more than they need advice.
Seek it from those with more wisdom & experience:
My son, keep your father’s commands
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
Bind them upon your heart for ever;
fasten them around your neck.
When you walk, they will guide you;
when you sleep, they will watch over you;
when you awake, they will speak to you.
For these commands are a lamp,
this teaching is a light,
and the corrections of discipline
are the way of life – Proverbs 6:20-23
It is natural and good for children, as they grow towards adulthood, to become increasingly independent of their parents. Young adults, however, should take care not to turn a deaf ear to their parents – to reject their advice just when it is needed most. If you are struggling with a decision or looking for insight, check with your parents or other older adults who know you well. Their extra years of experience may have given them the wisdom you seek.
The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,
but the heart of the wicked is of little value. – Proverbs 10:20
Words from a good person are valuable (“choice silver”). A lot of poor advice is worth less than a little good advice. It is easy to get opinions from people who tell us only what they think will please us, but such advice is not helpful. Instead we should look for those who will speak the truth, even when it hurts. Think about the people to whom you go for advice. What do you expect to hear from them?
Seeking it from everyone but God:
“Woe to the obstinate children,”
declares the LORD,
“to those who carry out plans that are not mine,
forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit,
heaping sin upon sin; – Isaiah 30:1
The obstinate children are the people of Judah (see 1:2), those who have rebelled against God. The negotiations for an alliance were underway, and Isaiah condemned their twisted plans. The people of Judah sought advice from everyone but God. When we are driven by fear, we tend to search everywhere for comfort, advice, and relief, hoping to find an easy way out of our troubles. Instead, we should consult God. Although he gives emergency help in a crisis, he prefers to be our Guide throughout our lives. By reading his word and actively seeking to do his will, we can maintain our bond with him who provides stability no matter what the crisis.
Love often means giving tough advice:
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” – Mark 10:21
Jesus showed genuine love for this man, event hough he knew that the man might not follow him. Love is able to give tough advice; it does not hedge around the truth. Christ loved us enough to die for us, and he also loves us enough to talk straight to us. If his love were superficial, he would give us only his approval; but because his love is complete, he gives us life-changing challenges.
Of Gamaliel to Jewish council:
But if it is from God, you will not be able to stope these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” – Acts 5:39
Gamaliel presented some sound advice about reacting to religious movements. Unless disciples in these groups endorse obviously dangerous doctrines or practices, it is often wiser to be tolerant rather than repressive. Sometimes only time will tell if they are merely the work of humans or if God is trying to say something through them. The next time a group promotes differing religious ideas, consider Gamaliel’s advice, just in case you “find yourselves fighting against God”.
©KingsWay International Church, 1973.