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TEXT: Proverbs 19:20

SUBJECT: Proverbs #25: Christian Counsel

WHAT IS COUNSEL?

The word "counsel" is translated from the Hebrew, ESA. It simply means "advice, plan, or recommendation". As might be expected, it is sometimes used in a bad sense. Thus we read of the "evil counsel of Hushai". But normally, of course, it denotes that good advice which is a product of reflection and prayer. It is obviously so used in our text.

Counsel naturally includes two elements. It is negatively described as "reproof, correction, and warning". Positively, it is synonymous with "instruction, exhortation, and training". As I have already addressed the former, I will try to confine my present remarks to the latter.

Counsel is always important. Hence it is variously used in in the Proverbs. It refers, to everything from, e.g., the strategies of a military advisor, "Every purpose is established by counsel; by wise counsel wage war" (20:18), to the personal suggestions of a close friend, "Oil and perfume make the heart glad, so a man's counsel is sweet to his friend" (27:9). But as I am speaking to a Christian assembly, I must restrict the subject accordingly.

Therefore, when I speak of counsel, I simply mean, "The godly advice which one Christian gives to another".

 

WHO SHOULD GIVE OR TAKE COUNSEL?

In recent years, "counselling" has become a profession. It is confined to an elite corps of highly-trained theapists. Anyone who dispenses advice without their approval risks of a law suit. Tragically, many Christians have accepted this propoganda. Thus, when they have serious problems, they rush off to a "professional" and thereby repudiate the Word, Spirit, and People of God. For JEHOVAH never assigned the duty of counsel to a party of self-important, secularized priests, but to the People of God at large. It is, therefore, the duty of every Christian to counsel his brethren. This conclusion can be proven by a direct appeal to Scripture, which teaches:

The Christian is to diagnose the spiritual needs of his brethren, Philippians 2:4, Hebrews 10:24.

The Christian is to seek to meet those needs. Our needs, of course, differ. But once diagnosed can be remedied, (I Thessalonians 5:14).

Indeed, only the Christian can effectively counsel the brethren, for he alone:

Has the resources, which are the Scripture (Romans 15:14), the wisdom to apply it (James 3:17), and the Spirit to make it effectual (Zechariah 4:6).

Knows the problem, SIN.

Knows the solution, REPENTANCE TOWARD GOD AND FAITH TOWARD OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

Not only is every Christian to give counsel, but each is to receive it as well.

All of my previous arguments imply as much. If, e.g., it is the Christian's duty to "diagnose" his brother's needs, then it follows that it is also his duty to submit to "diagnosis". If it is his duty to meet the spiritual needs of others, then it follows that his needs must be met by others too. If he has the resources to meet the needs of his brethren, then it follows that they, too have the resources to meet his needs.

But the force of this argument does not rest on implication alone. It is also based on the clearest words of Scripture, as it is written, "The way of the fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise" (12:15).

It is, therefore, the duty of every Christian to both give and take counsel.

 

WHY SHOULD YOU LISTEN TO COUNSEL?

There are personal reasons to heed counsel.

The first of which is ignorance. You do not know everything, education, experience, office, and piety notwithstanding,

Apollos, Acts 18:24-26.

Eliphaz, Cf. Job 15:10 , 16:2

Cf. Sadducees Psalm 8:2.

David and Abigail.

The second of which is prejudice.

If you doubt that self-interest and personal passions can influence your thinking, then you are foolish.

Barnabas and John Mark.

As it is written, "The heart is deceitful above all things..."

There are ecclesiastical reasons to heed advice.

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