Seek Wise Counsel by Charles Stanley
The passages below are taken from Charles Stanley’s book, “Walking Wisely,” published in 2002.
If you find that you need specific counsel, seek out a godly person who is an expert in that area or who has experience in the very circumstances in which you find yourself. Follow the suggestions that are based upon God’s Word.
None of us do well in walking through life alone. We need to be in close communication and association with other people who believe in Christ Jesus, are studying God’s Word, and are seeking to follow Christ daily.
We need to spend some time with people who have been through experiences that we are facing. We also need to spend time with people who have succeeded in an area of life in which we would also like to succeed. We need to talk things over with them, learn from them, and receive their wise counsel.
Read what the Word of God says about this:
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
But he who heeds counsel is wise. (Proverbs 12:15)
By pride comes nothing but strife,
But with the well-advised is wisdom. (Proverbs 13:10)
The ear that hears the rebukes of life
Will abide among the wise.
He who disdains instruction despises his own soul,
But he who heeds rebuke gets understanding.
Listen to counsel and receive instruction,
That you may be wise in your latter days.
There are times when we need to hear someone say to us, “Don’t do that.” “You shouldn’t do that.” “Get rid of that habit.”
There are times when we need to hear encouraging counsel from someone: “Do this!” “Take hold of this opportunity.” “Apologize to that person.” “Reach out to that person.”
Thousands of therapists’ offices are filled with people who come to hear what a counselor has to say to them, and then they go home and promptly forget all they’ve heard. They do not truly listen to what the counselor says and then put it into practice.
I recently talked to a person who had gone late one Saturday night to visit a woman who was seriously distraught that she had lost custody of her only daughter and was now being openly rejected by that daughter every time she tried to exercise her visitation rights. This mother could not be consoled or comforted. She could not be counseled. She refused to believe that God still loved her, that God could bring about a change in the heart of her daughter and in their relationship, or that God still desired to bring about something good in her own life.
If you flat-out reject the wise counsel or the godly encouragement of others and refuse to heed the Word of the Lord they share with you, you very likely are going to fall victim to oppression and depression.
Seek advice from godly experts. If you need financial advice
. . . go to someone who is skilled in the management of money. If you need advice related to contracts . . . go to a skilled and experienced lawyer. If you need advice about your health. . . go to someone who specializes in the area that pertains to your health-care concern. And if you need advice about relationships, spiritual matters, or your personal development . . . by all means go to a Christian therapist, counselor, or psychologist.
Seek out a counselor who believes in God’s Word and who personally seeks to follow Christ Jesus. Seek out a counselor who desires the best for your life but who will speak the honest truth to you. Seek out a person whose lifestyle is godly. Seek out a person who will give you advice that is based upon scriptural principles. If you have any doubt about the counsel you are receiving, ask the person, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? Do you believe the Bible is God’s truth for how we are to live?”
Good counseling always includes a balance of admonition, reproof, discipline, approval, and encouragement. If a counselor only addresses the negative all the time, run from that person. If a counselor only agrees with you or applauds you at all times, run from that person as well. Neither person is going to help you consistently over time because progress toward health and wholeness requires that we make changes, turning from bad habits and embracing good habits in our thinking and behaving. Change, in turn, comes only after we honestly appraise both what is wrong in our lives and what is good in our lives.
Are you willing to be convicted? Are you willing to receive the appreciation of others? Are you willing to open up yourself to change?
All godly counsel is ultimately encouraging, even if it initially involves reproof or correction. Listen closely if someone appears to be critical of your actions or attitude. If you know that person loves you, take the counsel to heart. Weigh what he says against the Word of God. Ask others who will be honest with you if the reproof you have received is valid. Ask the Lord to reveal to you the error of your ways. Don’t reject criticism out of hand. What you perceive initially to be negative criticism may actually be positive criticism that can lead to your growth and more success in life.
It is pride that keeps us from seeking or accepting godly counsel. Face up to that fact. If you truly want all the benefits of wisdom, you must humble yourself and seek out help from others.
Read again what God said to Joshua: “Only be strong and very courageous.” God wants us to be wise, but it takes strength and courage to pursue, acquire, and apply wisdom.
I went to a meeting one night scared all the way down to my toes. I didn’t want to attend that meeting. I was fearful about what might happen at that meeting. But I was also certain of one thing: God wanted me there. I could not walk out of that meeting because I knew to do so would be to disobey God. And if I had disobeyed God at that point in my life . . . would God have blessed my future ministry? No. I would not be experiencing all that I experience in ministry today if I had disobeyed God at that important juncture of my life. Fear, yes. Obedience, always.
A number of years ago as I was preparing to move to Atlanta, I was praying one day, and God showed me in a momentary vision a large, dark cloud hovering over the city skyline. I knew trouble was awaiting me in Atlanta. That knowing did not give me joy. I don’t enjoy conflict any more than the next person. Yet conflict is exactly what erupted several months after I moved to Atlanta. Fear, yes. Obedience, always.
God does not promise us a life without storms or thorns. He does promise us His presence, His help, and His rewards for our obedience in doing what He calls us to do.
At times our first response to God’s leading in our lives is fear. We find ourselves saying, “Oh, God, surely You wouldn’t call me to do that? Surely I must have heard You incorrectly.” However, the more we argue with God or try to ignore His leading, something inside us grows and churns and causes us to know, “This really is what God wants.” At that point of knowing, we face the decision to obey or disobey. Obedience, especially when a situation seems risky, takes courage.
God challenges us repeatedly throughout our lives. From His perspective, we never “arrive” at any point in our lifetimes. There is no retirement from God’s development process, no plateau on which He calls us to rest for the remainder of our lives. God continually calls us to take steps that are just one degree beyond our current ability. God continually seeks for us to grow in our faith, develop in our ability to minister, and mature spiritually. He continually moves us out of our comfort zone into a courage zone.
Change of any type—–including positive growth—–requires courage. But the good news is this . . . God only requires you to have the courage to take the next step. He doesn’t ask you to have the courage for the full race before you start running it.
Consider the situation of a young man who feels called to preach. If that young man looks at the long run of his future, he is likely to get discouraged. He might find himself quaking in fear as he asks, “Where am I going to get enough material to preach sermons every Sunday morning for the next forty years—–not to mention sermons for Sunday night or Wednesday night or special revival services?”
That question can’t be answered. That young man needs to trust God to give him a sermon for next Sunday. Believe me, after forty years of preaching, I’m still trusting God for just one more sermon—–the one I have to preach next Sunday.
So often people refuse to do the will of God because they fear failure. Let me encourage you—–God does not set us up for failure. He does not call us into a situation in order to watch us fall flat on our faces.
Moses may have thought God was calling him to fail. From a human perspective, it isn’t wise for a person who has run from legal prosecution to return to the leader of the land with a stick in his hand and declare, “Let God’s people go.” Moses had all sorts of arguments for God—–”I’m nobody,” “I don’t know what to say,” “I can’t talk very well.” He expressed his fear that nobody would believe him or listen to him. He pleaded with God to send someone else (Exodus 3—4).
In the end, however, Moses obeyed. He took one step at a time–—he met his brother, Aaron, whom God had prepared to help Moses. He met with the children of Israel. He met with Pharaoh–—again and again, through ten plagues that followed Pharaoh’s refusal to allow the Israelites to leave. Moses took one step at a time out of Egypt and across the wilderness and up Mount Sinai to meet with God.
At no time did God reveal to Moses all that he would face in his obedience, but at all times God said to Moses, “I am with you. I am leading you to the place I have prepared for you and for My people.”
That same promise of God is ours. God promises to be with us always. He promises to lead us to the place He has prepared for us. Our part is to trust Him step-by-step. (103-109)