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Giving and Getting Bad Advice

May 4, 2015

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I was making a batch of ginger tea for my love yesterday and noticed the tags had writing on them. Call it advice, suggestions, or counsel, but these tags support many of the things I hear people say they’ve been told. 

“Let your heart guide you.” 
Routinely, a counselee will tell me they followed their heart and that decision led to their being in my office with more problems and heartache than they can comprehend. 

Following your heart is the same as following your feelings. Jeremiah 17:9 says the heart is so deceptive we cannot believe it’s promptings. That is because “the heart” is still heavily influenced by sinful self. The heart is essentially governed by your thoughts, beliefs, and desires and can rationalize and justify anything, including gross sin.  

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. Matthew 15:19 (ESV) 

“Trust the wisdom of your heart.” If you plan to trust the wisdom of your heart, I would suggest that is a very bad plan. 

Whoever trusts in his own mind (heart) is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. Proverbs 28:16 (ESV) 

Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. Proverbs 3:7 (ESV) 

The fear (worship, reverence) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! Psalm 111:10 (ESV) 

“All knowledge is within you.” The Proverbs counsel us repeatedly to seek wisdom, and with wisdom get knowledge (Prov. 4:6). The Christian finds wisdom in the Word of God, not within himself. It is from the Bible that we find instruction for how we are to live, how to treat other people, who to associate with, how to respond when wronged, what to do when tempted to sin, what to do when we have sinned, and a myriad of other issues. Yes, the Bible contains everything we need for life and for godliness (2 Peter 1:3). 

The one tea tag I found to be helpful and true is the last one, “Grace brings contentment.” 

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14 (ESV) 

This passage has become one of my favorites over the years. It encompasses what happens to us because of the grace that has been given to us in Christ. Salvation brings contentment.  Salvation places us “in” Christ, and means I don’t have to strive to measure up. I can stop trying to earn God’s pleasure because it already rests on me! 

Because of salvation I am being trained to renounce my ungodly thoughts, beliefs, desires, and behaviors.  I am content to know that it is God who is at work in me, and He is giving me the desire to change and the ability to change (Phil. 2:13). He allows me to enter into circumstances that challenge and stretch me so that like Paul I can say with confidence: 

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Philippians 4:11-12 (ESV) 

None of this would be possible apart from the grace of God. 

For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. 2 Corinthians 1:12 (ESV) 

As discerning Christians, be careful where you get advise and counsel. If you consider yourself a people helper, be sure the counsel you give is biblical and from the Word of God. 

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