Our first instinct may be to say that we should never seek the counsel of man, but solely rely on the counsel of God. While all counsel should be carefully scrutinized through the lens of scripture, the Bible itself tells us that wise counsel from others is a good and important thing.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. Proverbs 12:15
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:20-21
Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. Proverbs 28:26
However, we should receive counsel with discernment.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. I John 4:1
If we were to think Biblically about giving and receiving counsel, I believe it will have two important implications for us:
1) We will carefully select whom we go to for counsel and/or whose counsel we heed.
- Usually, we get advice from people who meet one of two criteria: they have experienced whatever it is we are going through or, they have received some sort of formal, usually secular, education on the issue at hand. When these two criteria become our sole premise for determining if another can give us sound counsel, we have elevated experience and education above the Word of God. While experience and education are useful, they are no replacement for Biblical counsel.
- So, instead of searching for advice from someone who has "been there," search for people who will advise you Biblically. (If that person has also "been there," great!) I would much rather receive parenting advice from someone who has no children but thinks Biblically, than from someone who has a house full of kids but will only offer me the latest pop-psychology for advice.
- Sometimes, the right person to go to for counsel is one who you know will honestly tell you what is right/wrong even if it hurts your feelings. I beg you to make sure you have people like this in your life. Anyone can tell you things that will make you feel better, but a person who will give you Godly advice is a gem of a friend.
- I have been guilty of offering cliche' and worldly advice. Advice like, "You have to do what feels right," or "Make the decision that gives you peace," or "You have to take up for yourself." All of these are unbiblical and worldly advice that Christians are guilty of throwing around haphazardly.
- I am especially guilty of giving such poor advice in day-to-day interactions. I don't consciously think of it as "advice." But, it is. We must realize that we are constantly counseling people when we interact with them. Therefore, we must not be so flippant with our advice. We should desire that all counsel we give is carefully based on the Word of God.