Proverbs 12c

Good Advice.

“The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.” ­– Proverbs 12:26 NLT

Do people ever turn to you for advice? Does anyone ever seek your counsel? If so, what do you tell them? If they listen to you, will things go well for them? Or would they be better off finding another source of input?

Sometimes knowing what to say to those who come to you can be a real challenge. Our friends, family members and coworkers can often present us with some difficult problems to solve. They come to us wanting our wisdom on matters of real importance, and more often than not, we find ourselves stumped as to what to say. We aren’t always real sure what to tell them to do. And in many cases, no advice may be the best advice we can give them. Admitting to them that we don’t know what they should do just might be the most honest and loving thing we can do. Because as the verse above says, “The godly give good advice to their friends.” Notice the qualifier: good. It doesn’t say, “The godly give advice to their friends.” No, they give good advice. Actually, there is some debate as to exactly what this verse means. It has been translated a number of different ways and been given a variety of different meanings. The New American Standard Bible reads, “The righteous is a guide to his neighbor.” The Bible In Basic English puts it this way: “The upright man is a guide to his neighbour.” The New International Version gives it a slightly different twist: “A righteous man is cautious in friendship.” The Hebrew word has the meaning of spying out, searching, or doing reconnaissance. It seems to be saying that the godly does his homework before giving advice to his friend. He takes the time to find out how to do something before he tells someone else what to do. There is no flippancy or casualness to his advice. He takes what he is about to say seriously. He wants to make sure that whatever he tells his friend will get them where they need to go and not lead them astray.

Now think about how much advice we give in a given day – to our kids, friends, spouses, coworkers. We are quick to respond to requests for counsel, but do we spy out, search and do the reconnaissance necessary to ensure that our counsel is sound? Do we quote verses out of context or proof text passages in an effort to tell others something that sounds spiritual? It is so easy to tell someone going through difficulty that “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). We drop verses on them like little hand grenades, not stopping to think if that is what they need to hear at that moment. Just because it is Scripture does not mean that it is appropriate for the moment. Sometimes we need to stop quoting and start listening. We need to keep our counsel to ourselves and simply lovingly listen to what the other person has to say. The key to this passage is that the godly person gives GOOD advice. It is well-timed, well-thought out, based on the wisdom of God, and proven to be beneficial. And the only way that you and I can give that kind of advice is if we have been spending time with God. We must have spent time with the Wise One if we want to give good, solid, wise advice to others. Because if our counsel is not from God, it will always lead others astray. Every day, well-meaning Christian friends give out bad advice. They tell individuals struggling with their marriages that God just wants them to be happy. They counsel wives to leave their husbands. They counsel husbands so that they reach faulty conclusions about their commitment to their marriage. They tell young people to reject the counsel of their parents because they are not believers. And they do all of this while quoting Scripture and bathing their advice in prayer. But more often than not, they’re wrong. They end up leading others astray. Giving counsel is serious business. Helping guide others is a great privilege and a huge responsibility. It is not something we should take lightly. So the next time someone comes to you for advice, think before you speak. Pray before you pontificate. Admit your own ignorance. Better to give no advice than bad advice. Tell them you need time to pray, think, and explore God’s Word because you give an answer. A quick answer may be the wrong answer. The godly give GOOD advice.

Father, thanks for this very timely reminder. It is so easy to dish out advice like candy. We flippantly throw out our words of wisdom without really thinking about whether we know what we’re talking about. We don’t think about the damage we may be doing or how we may be leading that person astray with our words. Make us more reflective before we respond. May we seek to be truly wise before we try to come off that way. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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