From the time we are old enough to understand our native language, people were telling us to listen. Every parent tells their child to not run with scissors, play with knives, get too close to the fire, quit hitting your brother or sister, and no, we are not there yet.
As we age, we enter our education years and there are instructors telling us what to read, how to write, and when it is okay to go to the restroom. We finally reach adulthood and then we will quit being told what to do. Right.
Almost everyone has heard the tale of the teen that was sick and tired of being told what to do so they ran off and joined the Marines. Let me know how that works out for you. “Did I tell you to bleed Marine, stop it, immediately.” The solider yells “Sir, yes sir” as they continue to do pushups.
It seems that our lives are populated with people who are always going to tell us what to think, how to act, and when to do so. Since this is mostly true, we would be wise to learn to listen well.
The Bible is full of stories of real people who did listen to counsel, but not to the right counsel. It seems that humans have not changed much over the last few thousand years. Today, in our modern, forward, enlightened high-tech age, people still seek and even listen to counsel. Some of it is good, some not so much.
Reading through 1 Kings this year I noticed two examples of people who listened to counsel with dismal results. Consider these two passages:
But he (Rehoboam) abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him, and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him. 1 Kings 12:9
So the king (Jeroboam) took counsel, and made two calves of gold. 1 Kings 12:28
Two kings in the same chapter who listened to counsel. Two disasters. The first one lost most of his kingdom and the second one became famous for idolatry. So, are you saying we should not listen to counsel? No, but we need to make sure the counsel we listen to is giving us godly wisdom and guidance.
Many people offer opinions, views, advice and counsel that simply are wrong. How many people have counseled themselves out of a marriage, a job, their home and church because they listened to the wrong people telling them the wrong thing to do?
We have an enemy and he is a liar. While I can’t necessarily prove my theory, it seems to me that whenever someone is facing a crossroads or crises, our foe assures that there is someone there to give wrong counsel.
- “Go ahead, get divorced, you will be so much happier.”
- “You didn’t marry the right person, but this one will be.”
- “You deserve that money they cheated you out of; you really should fudge on the expense report.”
- “I did it and it was the best thing I ever did.”
- “Come on, everyone else is doing it.”
- “Everyone will think you are goodie-two-shoes if you do or don’t do that.”
- “I know they said it, but they didn’t really mean that.”
You get the picture. Parents, pastors, prophets and bosses are often ignored through people listening to the wrong counsel. The Scriptures teach that we are to get counsel, listen to older, wiser people. We are to seek out those more experienced and learn from them. We can avoid a great deal of pain and heartache if we would learn to humble ourselves and listen, at least listen to godly counsel.
There are those who would offer bad counsel and those who would offer the wise, godly kind. How do we know the difference? It really is not a guessing game as much as we think. Here are two ways to know – The Lord has placed people in our lives who are authorities and He has given us His Word.
Everyone is under some type of authority. We would be wise to learn how to listen to them. And, we know that the authorities over us have been given that authority by the Ultimate Authority and they will give an account for what they do with this delegated task. (See Romans 13:1).
If the authority is telling us to do something that does not violate God’s Word, then we better have a very good reason to ignore it. If the authority is telling us to do something that does violate God’s revealed Word, then we must obey the Higher Authority. For the record, and simply as an example, these do not violate God’s Word:
- Staying pure before marriage
- Staying married if at all possible (caveat – flee physical abuse for safety reasons)
- A curfew
- Cleaning your room and mowing the lawn
- Turning off electronic items
- Keeping your promises
- Paying your taxes
- Working hard at your job
Anyway, you get the idea. There are many issues that we are given instruction about from those in authority, and we would be wise to listen. On the other hand, there are those who would give us wicked, ungodly, or uninformed counsel and we would be better served to not accept it.
If someone is telling us to violate God’s Word, we don’t have to pray, we need to ignore their counsel. God will not lead us to disobey His Word. If someone is leading us away from following the Lord, again, we know this is not good counsel.
The issues that are not clearly commanded or forbidden in Scripture get a bit harder to decide. Many of us old home schoolers for example, were advised not to do so by parents and school educators. Since the issue was not clearly defined in Scripture, we were free to seek the Lord and make the best possible decision we could make with the information we had.
The same is true with whether to have and watch TV, go to movies, date or not date, how many children to have, and the list could go on for pages. While there are many people passionate about all of these views, the Scripture is vague enough on them to have many interpretations. There are of course principles to follow and then there is also the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Here is the bottom line in my opinion. We have God’s Word. We have those God has placed in authority over us. We have older, wiser people in our lives. We would be wise to listen to godly counsel. We will be fools to violate God’s Word and listen to the wicked voices.
So, who are you listening to, and why? Where is their counsel leading you?