“Let me give you some advice.”
Are there any other words with the potential to build trepidation in us quite like these?
It seems many of us, from the novice to the weather-worn, have an abundance of it to give and do so with the most profound generosity. Sometimes we are compelled to take it out of respect or fear; other times we accept it grudgingly just to be nice or to be able to get on with our day. For myriad reasons, somewhere along the line giving advice has received a very bad reputation. I am not entirely sure why.
Okay…I come from a big family of opinionated people so maybe I should strike that last sentence!
Truthfully, most of us rarely want to receive advice, even if it costs little but the time spent listening. And we can probably all point to an instance when bad counsel was given or received and we soon regretted the whole affair.
But haven’t you ever received really good advice that changed your whole perspective? It probably didn’t even sound like advice at the time, but are you ever glad you got it!
“Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,” (Prov. 1:5).
I recall two occasions early in my walk with the Lord where brothers came alongside and gave me wise counsel that I relish to this day.
Find a Mentor in the Lord
The first came from the brother who led me to the Lord. He had patiently guided me to my need for salvation and once I received the Lord I was so overjoyed that I wanted to do something – anything – with this wonderful gift I had received! I asked him so many questions looking for direction…
Where should I go to church? Should I go to Bible college or seminary? Maybe I should learn to preach? Write a book?
After wading through some of these notions with me, his ultimate advice came out plain and simple: “Pray, read your Bible, and find yourself an older brother who has been walking faithfully with the Lord for many years and learn a little from him.”
I am grateful to write that the Lord led me to a brother just as he advised. This Christian man was knowledgeable, patient, and generous with his time, often talking the scriptures well into the night and providing me copious resources to help me on my way. He is with the Lord now and when he left us his widow gave me his hymn book, which I have to this day. When I open it each Lord’s Day I am rewarded with the finger smudges on his favorite pages; the helpful musical notes he made with his careful hand; and the memory of learning many of the tunes by the sound of his voice. And I am rewarded with the lingering evidence of his faith and remembrance of our fellowship in Christ.
I encourage young believers to find such a believer to sidle up to and for the “aged” in the faith to make themselves available as such a resource from the Lord.
Look for Christ in Every Line
On another occasion I was querying an elderly brother, also now with the Lord, on how to study the scriptures. He was an accomplished teacher and writer, leaving behind numerous published commentaries and other books that have helped many believers draw nearer to the Lord.
When I asked how I could go about really understanding the scriptures, his advice, too, was plain and simple: “Look for the Lord Jesus in every line, what it says about Him, and it will become clear to you.”
I have kept that advice in mind whenever I open my Bible and, just when I think it might not be relevant, I quickly learn that it is.
“For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10).
This scripture teaches us that all prophecy, Old Testament and New, points us directly to Christ. We cannot truly understand prophecy unless we know Him and embrace His finished work on the cross. This is no less true for all of scripture for He is the beginning and end of all things.
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Mt. 17:5).
God the Father would have us to hear His Only Begotten Son, for without knowing the Son we cannot know the Father. His scriptures are given that we may know Him, so always look for Him in them and you will never be confounded. There is nothing so devastating to purveyors of false doctrine than to encounter a believer who really knows His Saviour and not just a litany of doctrine.
And there you have it: I slipped in some advice that you, perhaps, didn’t even notice. It is neither new nor original, but I know it to be wise.