Monday, February 9, 2015

Decisions, Decisions....

image used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of
commons.wikimedia.org, picture by Maurizio Pesce
It's amazing how situations with tech can bring God's thoughts to light.  Who'd have thought God was a techie??

Seriously, I was in the process of switching, one more time, to the phone that should be with me for awhile.  But that brought on a discussion comparing the benefits and shortcomings of several carriers.  With a number of my friends advising a switch to another carrier.  In many circumstances, my friends' advice would have been real wisdom.  But my present situation makes not changing the smartest move.  I can, if my situation changes, make the switch fairly quickly, at a later date.  But I did some research online, chatted with customer service reps online, and called one of the local stores for the other guy.

So, what does all that have to do with God?  Read on.


All of that got me thinking about how our thinking can be so influenced by others.  And how it could effect our walk with God.  For instance:

Proverbs 11:14 (KJV)  Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.

Proverbs 15:22 (KJV)  Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.

Proverbs 24:6 (KJV)  For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.

Three different Proverbs tell us to seek lots of advice, to get Godly counsel.  And, yet, when we hear from Isaiah, he quickly tells us this:

Isaiah 2:22 (AMP)  Cease to trust in [weak, frail, and dying] man, whose breath is in his nostrils [for so short a time]; in what sense can he be counted as having intrinsic worth?

Are the Proverbs wrong?  Is Isaiah saying to skip that advice?  Has Isaiah lost it?  Was he too much of a cynic?  The answer to all of those is a resounding "No!".  Let's take a look at why.

God tells us in those proverbs to seek a number of viewpoints.  Think about that one.  And let's assume for a moment that all those people have awesome, super great relationships with God. They're all going to give us the very best, most Godly advice they can.  But each has his or her own limitations, which will effect what gets left out of their advice.  Which is why God tells us to seek a number of advisors.  Each will fill in the gaps in what the others suggest.

The problem comes with who we select for advice.  Some may be like some fruit.  They look really good on the outside, remove the peel and there's rot inside.  We may not recognize that because of where we are spiritually, or they may hide it well, or our own shortcomings may have us seeking advisors we subconsciously know will support our own weaknesses.

Whether it's our own sinful nature or deception, our present situation limits our perceptions and may also effect our choice of counselors.

1 Corinthians 4:4 (KJV)  For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

Yes, that verse is about judging, but look at what Paul says at the beginning. "I know nothing...." That comes down to "I don't know enough and neither do you."  Remember, this is only slightly before Paul berates the Corinthians in the same epistle for two things.  Some who have become "puffed up", arrogant.  And for not dealing with an incestuous relationship within the church at Corinth.  So, Paul recognized the difference between discernment and judging.  He wasn't excusing sin.

The preceding passages are a really good read.  In the previous chapters, Paul gently points out spiritual shortcomings in the congregation that explain how they aren't spiritually mature yet.  And the point isn't to make them feel inferior, but to highlight the things they can work on to become what God would have them to be.  Paul's nudging them out of their spiritual inertia.  Their dead stop doesn't have to be a permanent halt to their progress in growing in the Lord.

We all know the passage where Jesus contrasts people berating others for flawed spiritual sight while ignoring much larger impediments to their own - a splinter vs the beam in the "eye".  Again, regarding judging.  But look at the next verse.

Matthew 7:6 (KJV)  Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

Very rarely do we see that discussed in the context of those who judge.  And yet both Jesus and Paul connect spiritual maturity to the ability to discern instead of judge.  Those who can't transition into discernment are like dogs or swine.  We understand the swine reference, but we have to look at society in that day to recognize the dog example.

There were almost no dogs as house pets.  The domesticated ones were used as guard dogs.  The majority of dogs were strays, roaming the streets in packs, looking for things in the garbage they could eat.  The dogs would gobble down whatever they thought might be edible.

If you've ever owned a dog, you know that they sometimes eat things they shouldn't or swallow larger pieces than they can handle or eat too fast.  Any of those cases will cause them to vomit it back up.  But that's where we see why Jesus included dogs.  A dog will then try to eat that very same food item that he just threw up.  Think of that scenario in the spiritual realm.  The spiritual "dog" has no home, takes in anything that may fill him up, if the chunks are too big or the "food" isn't good, he'll regurgitate. But, lacking spiritual wisdom, he'll eat his own vomit, taking in the same discordant material from a limited source.  How does that translate into plain English?

The "dog" goes to wrong sources for his mentoring, when that hand picked advice turns out to be tainted, the "dog" spits it up.  But the flesh wants that tainted nourishment.  So, it gets swallowed again.  Not too brilliant behavior, is it?  We can go back to those verses in Proverbs and think of the packs of stray dogs in Biblical times.  They'd go to a multitude of garbage piles, but not necessarily pick the right nutrition.  Our flesh can do the same thing to our souls.  Which will have us ending up discerning little and judging everything, including ourselves.

So, are we taking what we find, without consideration of real spiritual nutritional value?  Or do we find better places to be fed from and allow our souls to grow?

4 comments:

  1. You are so right Bill - We shouldn't try and go through our life along, but we should be careful to the voices we seek out for advice.

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    1. When we start to shift in the wrong direction, we have a tendency to seek advice that supports our bad decisions. It's something we have to be careful of. Our flesh can lead us down the wrong path.

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  2. You write very wisely.. I take everything I hear from others with a grain of salt...

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    1. Thanks, Crystal. God does everything with love. Even His teaching and chastising is out of love.

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