Getting Wise Counsel
This week I was doing my homework for Fellowship Bible Study on the process of getting wise counsel. Then, in discussion group we talked about the sources of wise advice and tried to decide if it mattered which source of wisdom you seek first. This idea of an ordered process for seeking wisdom has really resonated with me over the past few weeks. So, here are a few ideas to ponder.
This first idea may be obvious, but here it is: the very first place to go for counsel is the Lord himself. Consider these scriptures:
Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you while you may be found. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Psalm 32: 6a, 7-8
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn from evil.
If any lack wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach and it will be given him.
The wise woman seeks the Lord first, both in prayer and by searching the scriptures. Isn’t it amazing how easily we are tempted to rely on our own wisdom or hurry to a friend for advice? By praying and reading God’s word first, we admit that we are not wise on our own. We show that we understand that apart from the wisdom of God we are left with our own small thoughts and self-centered desires. Seeking the Lord first takes humility and a firm grasp on the reality of what Jesus tells us in John 15: 5, Apart from me you can do nothing.
Consider this, too: something else has to be going on in our hearts as we pray and listen to God’s Word. We must be soft and open to what we hear. We must be ready to obey! It does no good to seek counsel if we are not ready to be submissive to wisdom (or even reproof) when it comes!
So, sometimes, considerable soul-searching has to happen in the midst of seeking wisdom. Maybe the problem is not what we thought the problem was. Maybe the problem is in us. Praying and searching the scriptures often reveals this.
Does this mean we should never go to others for counsel? Not at all!
Scripture affirms that people can also be wise counselors, and that seeking their advice is a wise next step. Consider these proverbs:
Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.
Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
But which friends do you seek? Seek wise friends. Ask prayerful friends. Confide in friends who are courageous enough to disagree with you. Rely on loving friends who will help you see if you are wrong. Avoid the person who you know will agree with you and comfort you no matter how wrong you are!
There is another kind of friend as well. Wise Christian authors, pastors, and professional counselors are also your friends. Even if they don’t know you, because they know and trust the Lord, their writings, sermons, and podcasts can be friend-like sources of wisdom.
So I write this to myself as I write this for you. Do you need a process for getting wisdom?
Cara Smith is Director of Women's Ministry at The Chapel. She is married, with three adult children and two granddaughters. She enjoys writing Bible studies, hiking, gardening, cooking, tandem bicycling, and travel.
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