the counsel we give

There are so many times people come to the church and ask for counsel on their lives. If you have friends like I do, sometimes they come to us and ask us what our opinion may be about the situation they got themselves into. For the most part, the easy thing to say is, “It’ll all be okay. God will work it out.” But as we listen to their story, we can recognize the bad decision that led to a host of other bad decisions that inevitably put them in the place they are now. Even they notice it. What I’ve come to realize is that they’re not looking for someone to give them what they need but to tell them what they’d like to hear. They’re looking for reassurance that what they believe is alright, that the decisions they made aren’t as bad as they turned out to be.

God talks about those people. He calls them false prophets. That’s a heavy title to carry in the presence of God. Those who fall in that category are doomed to His full wrath. Not only are they false, but God holds them responsible for leading people astray from Him. Jeremiah 23 talks about these people. They would speak in the name of Yahweh and tell everyone that they were “okay” and that all was well with them. These weren’t just any type of people either. These guys were the servants in God’s temple, they were priests.

Man, this speaks volumes to me. I’m a pastor of a church. I’m a worship pastor that leads people before God’s throne in adoration of Him. Think about this for a second. Those moments in which I’m not fully surrendered in worship is another moment I could be leading someone astray. I’m calling on the name of Yahweh, declaring praise to Yahweh, and if the message comes out that everything is okay in their lives, I’ve ended up quenching the work of the Spirit.

There’s always one more thing God chips away at us in order to reveal more of Himself in us and through us. And the Holy Spirit is supposed to convict people of sin and turn their lives around to move in the direction of God. Yahweh’s rebuke toward the false prophets was because they were telling those who despised God that they will have peace, and that there wouldn’t be any calamity on them for their lifestyles.

How guilty are we of this? How many times have we told people that things will end up for their good even if they’ve put themselves in that situation? Why is it okay for us to lie about those things but not when we run the risk of getting a rebuke? We man up and own up to our mistake but hold no one to their own. Instead of imparting truth to them that they might be saved, we encourage them to keep living that way.

Does a fear of rejection keep us from being honest in those moments? What we have to realize is the truth that Samuel learned when Saul stopped following God. It wasn’t Samuel Saul rejected, it was God. If there’s any mourning on our end concerning a person who refuses correction, it should be because they’ve decided to reject God.

Now this isn’t assuming we have all the answers. And it’s not our responsibility to shove truth in their face without love. God calls us to be truthful in love. If someone comes to us for counsel we have a decision to make that should be based on truth.

I think this passage is talking about the depths of God’s heart toward us. He speaks to the false prophets telling them that they could have had an opportunity to really share the messages of God if they truly wanted it. But there are requirements and conditions in speaking God’s truth to His people. I believe they are still true to this day.

They could have stood in God’s council. The message would have been truth and could have saved the people from their sin. The more we are around God the more impact He is able to have on our lives. Good counsel comes from knowing the the Counselor. Too often we are quick to share our own words without looking into God’s counsel.

God is close. He’s not far. They could have recognized that. Those who believe that God is far away are quicker to jump into the temptation and sin. If God is far away it’s easier to hide from Him. But the truth is that there is nothing that can hide from Him. He’s close. He’s closer than we think. He fills it all.

It’s important that we remember that He is near. If we could just live in that constant awareness… God is close. His Word is available. His council has room for us to stand in.

Maybe everything isn’t okay. Maybe God’s working on their hearts to draw them closer to Him, and on our hearts too. It could be that the door to God is open widest in the midst of unbearable pain and suffering. People seek counsel when they reach the bottom. It’s in those moments truth can be shared. The reality of sin is brought to realization when truth comes to light, and then in turn saves them.

What are your thoughts?