WHEN GIVING ADVICE GETS TRICKY
In my last but one post, I advised that we should hang out with those whose kind and thoughtful words energise us. You can see the whole post by clicking on the title below:
It was a very short post but from the feedback, I noticed that some of my young friends thought I was preaching a disregard for all opposing views or that I meant we should do whatever pleases us. This piece which I’d earlier written but had not posted corrects that impression and broadens the discourse somewhat. Read and be blessed!
WHEN GIVING ADVICE GETS TRICKY
Picture having a conversation with a friend and he or she inserts the following question at some point.
“X and I shouldn’t feel guilty about sleeping together, should we? I mean, we’re practically married. Our parents know we are together and all that.”
This is what is called a leading question. Your friend isn’t so much fishing for answers as for a specific answer, “No, you shouldn’t.” Or if you want to emphasise it because you truly feel the same way, “Of course not, you shouldn’t!”
Any other answer may trigger an argument, hurt feelings, a strained or broken relationship. Why? Because when someone asks a leading question on a sensitive and personal matter like this, they are trying to manipulate you to give a predetermined answer or they are just hoping that put in that light, you will certainly see things from their point of view.People yearn for affirmation for themselves and endorsement of their beliefs and practices. Click To Tweet
Human beings have a strong need for affirmation for themselves and endorsement of their beliefs and practices. Most times, they have taken a position before they seek your opinion. And God help you if that opinion contradicts or challenges theirs! A famous American writer, John Steinbeck, put it this way: “No one wants advice, only corroboration.”No one wants advice, only corroboration. - John Steinbeck #quote See #blog. Click To Tweet
As Christians, we should be loving in speaking to others. We should be encouraging and uplifting. But there’s a limit to how far we can do that. The line is drawn where the person’s views and actions run counter to the word of God. We need as the Bible says, to speak the truth in love and not be partakers in other people’s sins (Ephesians 4:15, 1 Timothy 5:22). The Blible also teaches that dishonesty and flattery, which are often used to mask our true feelings when we disagree with people, are wrong. (Job is speaking in the second and third passages below.)
“Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight.” – Proverbs 12:22 (ESV)
“I won’t discriminate against anyone, and I won’t flatter any person.” – Job 32:21 (ISV)
“I have to speak—I have no choice. I have to say what’s on my heart, And I’m going to say it straight— the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I was never any good at bootlicking; my Maker would make short work of me if I started in now!” – Job 32:20-22 (MSG)
What it boils down to is: where is our allegiance? Is it to the Lord or to our friend? If it is to the Lord, we should not answer lightly when we feel “trapped” by the type of situation described above. We should ask the Lord for wisdom to share what is right humbly and lovingly. This might not always be appreciated, nor will it always ensure that our relationships with the party concerned remain intact, but we would have honoured the Lord and done our duty. But that duty doesn’t end if our friend takes offence. We are to continue to lift them up in prayer that the Lord will reach and restore them by His mighty power.
It goes without saying that the shoe could be on the other foot another day. Would you be open to listen to the clear teaching of Scripture on a matter that you are struggling with? Or would you keep searching till you find someone who will laud your line of thinking? The Bereans in the Bible had questions about Paul’s teaching and referred to the Scriptures for confirmation (Acts 17:11). They were commended for this but the Bible warns us against the opposite:
We should be open to godly advice even when it runs counter to our views. Click To Tweet
“For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.” – 2 Tim. 4:3 (NLT)
May we never be among that number in Jesus’ name. May God bring into our lives the right friends, those who don’t tear us down unnecessarily but uphold us in love and tell us the truth from His word that we might get better to His glory in Jesus’ name.
Further scriptural references:
“In the end, people appreciate honest criticism far more than flattery.” – Proverbs 28:23 (NLT)
“They treat the wound of my people as if it were nothing: ‘All is well, all is well,’ they insist, when in fact nothing is well.” – Jeremiah 8:11 (CEB)
“You bring shame on me among my people for a few handfuls of barley or a piece of bread. By lying to my people who love to listen to lies, you kill those who should not die, and you promise life to those who should not live.” – Ezekiel 13:19 (NLT)
“Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” – Galatians 4:16 (ESV)
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