Monday, March 30, 2009

What Advice To Give?

In the past few weeks we have looked at “What Is A Healthy Church?” I can think of very few people in the last 50 years or so who has done more to bring believers back to a proper understanding of conducting Church the biblical way than Mark Dever. I have blogged, and we have discussed in our services that one of the primary reasons we have church is because of the fact that we can not run this race alone. However, if we understand this, there will be times that our brothers and sisters in Christ will seek counsel; which brings us to the title of this blog; What Advice To Give? There are times I confess that as I am hearing a problem and in my mind I am thinking: “how can I help these people?” Now I know that may not breed confidence in your Pastor as a member of Trinity, but hear me out. When this thought comes (and to be honest it tends to always be there initially), God inevitably leads my thoughts to a passage in my favorite Chapter in the Bible. Ps. 119. In Ps. 119:97-99 “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my mediation all the day. You, through Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my mediation.” It becomes very clear to me, that I have absolutely nothing in and of myself to offer these people I am counseling. I am a year shy of my 20th year in the ministry, surely that should give me something to say to them, right? I think not! I know of men whose mantra is/was “I’ve been doing this 20 years, or 30 years” - that means nothing to me nor should it to you. In fact, if they have to announce that over and over they are doing so to boost your confidence in them, not the Word. Doing something a long time doesn’t mean you’re are good at it, and being older doesn’t mean you’re wiser. For instance, there are turtles that are around today that were here at the founding of this country, but I do not see any one going to them for counsel… however some people would be better off going to them than to some counselors or even ministers I know. So what advice are we to give? Well to put it plain and simple - it must be biblical. Over and over in Psalm 119 we see that the only thing that produces wisdom is the Word of God. Not age, or longevity in the ministry or in the Church. Certainly if you have walked closely with God and have been in His Word for 20 years the counsel you give would be invaluable but only if it is backed up with the Word of God.

My wife graduated from Auburn University with her Master’s in Counseling - with what she received from that institution, she could hang a sign on the door and get paid to counsel. There is good money to be made in that, but what she received in a secular institution that gives hypotheses about man, is equal to giving a Benadryl to a cancer patient. In the long run it will do nothing. While we can learn communication styles and people skills, the source of our counsel must be TRUTH. The only way to help someone is to get to the source of the problem, that problem begins in the heart. We are fallen men, with fallen natures; the only thing that can help our heart is TRUTH. Knowing that I will give an account of every idle word I speak, when I am giving advice I had better make sure it is biblical. I had better back up what I say with the Word of God. All of this to say that every believer can help another believer by speaking the Word of God to them, it is not just sufficient to save us and keep us, it is sufficient to guide us and lead us. To make this crystal clear, there is nothing that I face that I do not need to first find out what the Word of God says about it. If I know what God thinks about it, then I can know with confidence that the advice I give is truly helpful.

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