Don’t Learn the Hard Way
"Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him." –Proverbs 26:12
Recently, a friend argued laughingly that we ought to live life in reverse: we ought, he declared, to be born into old age and carry with us a lifetime’s wisdom and experience as we grow younger–through retirement, child-rearing, marriage, adolescence, etc. How marvelous it would be to end life with the vigor and excitement of children. How much more fulfilling college would be with the discernment (and the retirement savings) of our golden years!
We can all identify with this sentiment in some way; we have all wished we "had it to do over again," and although God does not afford us this opportunity, He does presently provide us all we need to follow His will and receive His blessings. Upon salvation, God gives us the Holy Spirit who "will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13). God also gives us the Bible for "instruction in righteousness" that we may be "thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim 3:16). Finally, God gives us fellow Christians to guide and direct us: "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend" (Prov 27:17). The guidance of mature fellow Christians is often undervalued or, even worse, rejected; yet, it is essential to our spiritual sharpness. Scripture reveals this truth both by direct words of instruction, and by illustration in the lives of the Bible greats.
Consider the wisdom of Proverbs: "Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety" (11:14), and "He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, but he who refuses correction goes astray" (10:17). The book of Proverbs admonishes over and over to seek wise counsel, to heed instruction, and to love correction. So we demonstrate our obedience to God and His word as we seek these out by way of mature and faithful Christians generous with their counsel, their instruction, and their correction.
As a companion to the direct words of instruction in the scriptures, consider also the lives of the many Bible greats who stand as vivid illustrations of the same biblical principle. Men and women like Elisha, Ruth, Joshua, Timothy, and of course the disciples learned obedience and faith under the leadership and mentorship of another more mature man or woman of God. Elisha became a great prophet only in footsteps of Elijah. A gentile, Ruth found favor with God in the servitude of her mother-in-law Naomi. Joshua became a great leader and conqueror after being groomed by Moses for the role. Timothy helped establish the early Christian church under the close direction and scrutiny of Paul. And the disciples, with only a dim understanding before their Lord’s resurrection, followed Christ with extraordinary devotion.
The wisdom and instruction of the Proverbs and the rest of scripture still apply to each of us today, and just as for the giants of the Bible, God desires, even expects, that we too seek out and subject ourselves to the godly direction of His appointed leaders. At no other time in our life is this so important as when are assuming fully the mantle of adulthood with all of its challenges and responsibility. For some this may include the trials of living away at college, for others it may mean beginning a career, facing financial independence, or perhaps even starting a family. Whatever forms the challenges take, God does not mean for us to face them alone but rather with His very spirit in our hearts and the direction of mature believers.
Many of us first begin to understand and appreciate Christian leadership from our relationship with our parents. Proverbs has much to say both about the responsibility of parents to be faithful leaders and children to be obedient in return, and indeed, God intends for parents to be a strong source of biblical direction long after children leave the home. As we move into adulthood, however, it is important to establish relationships with other mature Christians as well. Find an older Christian or several whom you trust and respect. Cultivate these relationships–take them your concerns, seek their advice, respect their reproof.
Follow their footsteps into maturity as faithful men and women of God.
Unlike a lottery ticket that can bring instant financial wealth, the treasures of God-peace, wisdom, and understanding come by the school of faith-a school directed by the Holy Spirit and entrusted to His faithful vessels. As we respect God’s authority manifested in His appointed leaders, so we give glory to God Himself, for all comes from God: wisdom, direction, instruction, correction. We walk blindly if we think these will simply fall upon us out of heaven. Paul knew this and understood his God-given role as a leader. He instructed the church of Philippi: "The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you." So with these words in mind, let’s open our eyes and our hearts to the Pauls, and the Moses, the
Naomis and Elijahs whom God provides in our lives today-and the God of peace will be with you also.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 17 No 1
- Faith, Fellowship and Fun
- The Key
- A Challenge
- Be Careful…
- Words to Live By
- Suffering: Its Secret
- Editor’s Note
- A Look at a Book
- Bible Study: With Bended Knee and a Broken Heart
- To Put It All Simple Yet Radically
- Questions & Answers
- Zerubbabel Focus: Zerubbabel Press–Republishing Norman’s Books
- Excerpt from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- An Awesome God
- To Think About…
- Tape Talk
- British Autumn Conference
- Sunday School
- Don’t Learn the Hard Way
- Illuminating Body, Soul & Spirit
- Could I Be Pharaoh?