Finding Good Counsel

Originally published Wednesday, 22 October 2014.

Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but counselors of peace have joy. Proverbs 12:20

I’m a collector of what I call “litmus test” verses and this is one of them! I am so thankful for the people the Lord has graced my life with to send His counsel my way. But I’ve noticed lots of people like to offer lots of counsel--whether or not that counsel was requested! I’m still working on filtering the words I let into my heart, but this verse gives us one (among many) factors we ought to look for before we allow someone’s counsel into our life. 

Counselors of peace have joy. It’s as simple as that. If the person offering their counsel doesn’t have peace in their life, or doesn’t have peace in the particular area of their life they are speaking about, I’d bet that their advice isn’t coming from a sanctified, God-directed place. I’ve let a lot of words take up way, I mean waaaaay, too much space in my heart that were from people who didn’t have joy or peace in their lives and quite frankly didn’t have my best interest or the desire to glorify God motivating their words. And those words I chose to let take root in my heart have been there way too long. We all have the counsel of other people clanging around in our minds. Our little selves can only hold so much. We are finite. And our finiteness means that the space we give to those words is space God’s word and His counsel can’t have. I want God’s counsel to flood my mind and heart. I want it to define my life and my choices. But much of the time I let other people’s counsel fill that space. I’ve particularly noticed that people often give counsel to others that is really meant to make the advice-giver feel better about a decision they made or make them feel important. If advice comes from a self-seeking place, I think it fails the peace and joy test. At least it seems to me that when I’m searching out my own validation I’m really lacking in joy and peace. When I’m in that kind of place, I pray God would put a guard over my mouth, and I’ve come to pray for Him to put a guard over my ears and my heart from counsel that comes from such places.

If we want to clear our lives of untrustworthy, deceitful counsel we have to be vigilant to make sure it doesn’t enter our minds. TV, magazines, and friendships ought to be filtered through the joy and peace test. Another great litmus test verse is found in Philippians: 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Philippians 4:8 NIV

If the words rattling through the hallways of our minds don’t meet this criteria, then we’ve got to show those words their exit. If someone in your life filled your mind with critical words, ask the Lord to show you any truth in them, then chuck out the negativity. If someone shared a tidbit of gossipy drama with you, pray for the situation (and ask God for forgiveness if you participated in gossip) and then discard it. If TV shows fill your thoughts with ideas that don’t honor the beauty of marriage, ask the Lord to purge them from your mind and replace them with His perspective. 

Whatever counsel fills your mind, may you only give heart-space to that which brings the joy and peace of the Lord.

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