Continuing on with our earlier question of how to discern God's will regarding a decision we have to make, let's discuss point number three: Considering Wise Counsel.
Just to recap and set up point three, remember that an attitude of humility forms the foundation when we want to inquire of God. What's the purpose of wanting to hear from God if you don't want to really know what He says or don't intend to follow through with it? Next, we can usually find most of what God wants from us as we read the Bible. Some questions God may choose to leave a mystery, but almost all others He will answer from His written word. (Now honestly, if we think we can figure everything out, then we reduce God to human size, and He is limited to our brainpower and understanding. Who wants a god who is only as big and powerful as we are? I'd prefer a God who is not limited by what man thinks. But that's another discussion for a later time.) Point two, we can hear God's voice to us by talking to Him. That is what prayer is. The reason God desires our prayer is important and foundational to faith: God wants a personal relationship with the people He created. It may be hard to fathom, but God loves us that much! It really is all about relationship. Next point in hearing God's voice...
Wise counsel. Let's put this in perspective, if we were going to undertake a complex home improvement project, we'd want to talk with someone who had already successfully completed a similar job. You might talk to the proper medical specialist if you were diagnosed with a particular illness you knew little about. See a skilled mechanic to work on your car, etc. You get the point. The same principle works with discovering God's will. After setting the right heart attitude in place, seeking God out in reading the Bible and in talking to Him through prayer, we can also seek out the wise counsel of others as a way of hearing God.
One of the best and wisest parts of seeking out the counsel of others is that we get to hear an outsider's perspective on our life. It can give us an objectivity we may not have otherwise. Wise counsel can potentially alert us to flaws in our logic, remind us of hard lessons from the past, correct faulty beliefs about God, and ultimately protect us from hasty decision making.
The other side benefit of seeking counsel from others is building relationship. We can build friendships, learn more about each other, and be available to serve each other. Since men and women are created in God's image, we get the opportunity to reflect God's heart to each other as we communicate. It's a chance to encourage and love each other. Christianity is at its core a relational faith- the central message is God's great and redeeming love toward man. We do not serve a distant God if we love Jesus. And Jesus modeled love for the people around him as our example as to how we are to treat others.
How do we evaluate the counsel we receive? First, nothing said will ever contradict God's written word if it is really Him speaking through someone else. All wisdom is God-inspired. Right from the source. There will be no contradiction if what we hear is from His heart to ours. Not our prayer, not other's counsel, not human wisdom or logic, not circumstance. They are all secondary to God's written word. But each these individual pieces should work together, revealing a common thread on which to base His answer to our question.
Next time, we'll talk about circumstance and the pros and cons of using that as a measuring tool to discover God's will for us. Stay tuned!