Who Are You Listening To?

His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Have a gallows built, seventy-five feet high, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai hanged on it. Then go with the king to the dinner and be happy.” This suggestion delighted Haman, and he had the gallows built. Esther 5:14

People who care about us don’t always lend the best advice. They mean well but their loyalty to us often taints their intended wisdom. Haman’s wife and his friends were apparently blind to Haman’s character flaws. They could not see that his greed for power obscured his vision for what was really happening. Esther had initiated the invitations to dinner to trap Haman yet he assumed they were to honor him. His family and friends bought his interpretation of the events and were all too happy to suggest a gallows be made for Mordecai. Why did Haman go on to build them? Because the advice they gave him brought great pleasure and gave him a way to express his hatred.

Coworkers discussing project in startup officeIt is easy for me to love others’ advice when it pleases my flesh. When unhealthy appetites for personal gain rule me, I will gravitate toward those who agree with me. If I squirm when challenged because of my own insecurity, I may even put together a library of authors who hold my point of view. I will appear all knowing and well connected, at least for a while, in a womb of false teaching. What I fear most can be a knowledgeable opponent.

Another person’s advice is only as sound as his connection to God, his grasp of the scriptures, and his accountability to good teachers. Before I assemble my own panel of counselors, it is prudent for me to ask myself some questions:

• Will these people speak the truth to me, even if it makes me uncomfortable?
• Will they show me the face of Christ by their lifestyle as well as their words? Many Christians are educated and quite dogmatic but without the grace of Jesus.
• Do others characterize these people as wise? If so, who are they? Who are their bedfellows?
• Does wisdom rule their lives? They should have a track record for navigating complicated situations successfully.

The issue is not whether another person’s advice makes me feel good, but is it true? And if so, is it timely and wise if applied? If the answers to these questions are yes, God is with me.

Everyone is quick to offer advice. I can be blinded by a person’s position of authority. Show me who should counsel. It may be the lowliest person I know. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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