Summary: Importance of godly counsel and hearing God in context of wholesome community is discussed. Criteria for when to seek counsel and from whom is also considered.
Hearing God: The Counsel of Others
Series: Hearing God # 3
We have been talking the last few weeks about how to hear God. In the next message on this we will focus on our personal communion with God. But it is important to embrace the broad biblical principles that protect us from our own emotional responses in a situation and help us distinguish between our own desires and the desires of God. In this series we have come to understand hearing God as a process and not just an event. We talked about the issue of motives in the last message. And prior to that, we saw that subjective leadings of the Lord will correspond with His providential work in our circumstances and the will of God as already revealed in His Word.
Today we will see the importance of community in this process of hearing God. We take as our subject: “Hearing God through the counsel of others”. How do you know when its time to go to someone for counsel and help concerning something in your life? How do you know where to go for that help? How do you sort through all the advice to arrive at an understanding of what God is wanting you to do or what the real solution to the problem is? Those are the kind of questions we want to address this morning.
I. Why do we need counsel from others?
If we have the Holy Spirit why can’t we just ask God what to do and listen to what He tells us? That is the first thing we should do. No matter what problem or decision we face in life the first thing we should do is go to God with it in prayer. In the story we read at the beginning of the service from 1 Kings 12 there is no mention of Rehoboam going to God in prayer and asking Him what to do. That was a big mistake! But as we see in the story he did not really want to know God’s counsel. For many decisions in life we can simply ask the Lord what He wants us to do and do it. We can use the principles discussed in previous sermons on this subject and know the mind of the Lord. But sometimes we have done all that and we are still at a loss as to what the answer is.
Why—because God has not designed our relationship with Him to be exclusive of other people. He sets the solitary in families. He leads us into relationships with other people. He places us in the Body of Christ as it pleases Him. Paul uses the imagery of a human body to describe our relationships in the Church. 1 Cor 12:20-21 “As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’” No matter how spiritual a person may be he can never say that he has no need for the gifts and ministries of other Christians. That is one reason that God will not always give us direction exclusive of other people. He has called us to interdependence upon one another. You will find over and over in the New Testament those two words that describe our relationship—“one another”. Let me read you just a few. Rom 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Eph 5:19-21 “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Heb 10:24-25 “ And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
There are two extremes that we should avoid. One is dependence instead of interdependence. We should not just hand our life over to someone else and let that person decide how we will live it. The Bible says each one of us will give an account unto God of himself. Life can be challenging. Sometimes we get weary. And there can be the temptation to just hand all the decisions over to someone else and let them take the responsibility. That kind of dependence is unscriptural. Each one of us must ultimately make our own decisions before God. The other extreme is independence which is very prevalent in the American culture. We don’t want to be accountable to other people. We want to be free to do what we want—when we please. But that attitude is contrary to Scripture and will ultimately get us into trouble. Ponder with me the words of Proverbs 18:1-2 for a moment. “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment. 2 A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart.” (NKJV) What is a man (who isolates himself) seeking? Is he seeking to know the will of God through godly counsel? No he “seeks his own desire”. By himself he can pursue his own will without anyone else interrupting him or holding him accountable. Does he seek a wholesome exchange of ideas? No his delight is “in expressing his own heart.” That verse is not talking about a brief time alone with God. It is talking about pulling back from the Body of Christ to do your own thing—no matter how much of a religious, spiritual spin you may put on it. God’s design for His people is interdependence—not dependence and not independence.