Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
James 3:1 carries an interesting warning… “Let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgement.” God takes providing instruction to others seriously. Nevertheless, He still holds us responsible for our choices, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
How to Measure the Advice We Receive
As we grow in our relationship with God, it is key to pray for spiritual discernment. It gives us the ability to decide if the insight we receive is based on Earthly or Heavenly wisdom. We are given some insight on how to tell the difference:
“For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”James 3:16-17
Envy addresses those who provide us with advice that doesn’t necessarily come from a place of love and care. The self-seeking component addresses selfishness, and sometimes that selfishness isn’t necessarily coming from a place of hatred. Their intentions may be in the right place, but no one is above becoming blinded by personal emotions and prejudices.
A Biblical Example
We see bad advice being given in the story of Job. He lost his livestock, servants, and most importantly, his children. Satan then attacked Job’s health, and even his wife lost her faith. Yet Job remained steadfast in his, proclaiming “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10)
In the midst of his suffering, Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar came to comfort him. They saw Job’s sufferings and drew conclusions as to the source of his trials. They advised Job to let go of his secret sins. Even when Job refuted their claims, the physical evidence was all too great. In their eyes, Job had to be reaping what he sowed. There was no other explanation.
Several chapters in the book of Job are dedicated to the advice of his three friends. One friend, Bildad, told Job “If you were pure and upright, surely now He would awake for you, and prosper your rightful dwelling place. Though your beginning was small, yet your latter end would increase abundantly.” (Job 8:6-7) Bildad had no idea he was actually correct in predicting how the story of Job would end. Unfortunately, Bildad saw Job’s present as his ending. It wasn’t.
Because of his faith, Job would eventually enter into a new chapter of his life, with greater understanding and greater prosperity. Job nor is friends knew this; they didn’t need too. Job’s trust was never supposed to solely trust his friends. Instead, his faith and trust needed to be cemented in God.
It’s sad that the life Job’s life and character before affliction weren’t enough to garner support from his friends during dark does. Job’s character, however, was enough for God. In the end, God blessed Job and chastised his friends. By doing this, God reinforced that no matter how good the intentions are of those around us, we answer to God first. Everyone else is second. That doesn’t mean they don’t matter, or what they say doesn’t matter, but if it doesn’t align with what God has for us, we stand our ground. It may not be a popular choice but it’s what God expects us to do.
I am Not Inferior to You
When we go down a road others do not agree with, our decisions and situations will be scrutinized. We should expect opinions to not only be formed, but expressed. Some will come from those whose wisdom seems to far exceed our own. That’s okay. Our personal relationship with God still matters, and He talks directly to each and every one of us who dare to listen. Even Job proclaimed to his friends, “No doubt you are the people, and wisdom will die with you! But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you.” (Job 12:2-3)
Job knew where he stood spiritually. As we grow closer to God, we too, can have the kind of trust that Job had, knowing that in God’s love we can find our strength. So have mercy on those who don’t understand you. Listen with an open mind, but know that your every choice won’t be a popular one. Even when your path is not understood by others, press forward anyway. In the eyes’ of man, we may be considered less-knowledgeable, but in God’s eyes, we are not inferior. He has outlined our journey. He has ensured our happiness. He has guaranteed our salvation. It’s up to us to own it.Print This Devotional