At a recent Saturday morning prayer meeting, for no apparent reason, I found myself exhorting the people once again to beware of taking advice and spiritual counsel from the wrong quarters. Not everybody no matter how sweet they are, or how close they are to you ought to be handed the reins of your life. Counsel directs your life and is instrumental to your achieving or missing your destiny. This is a recurrent theme with me as time and time again I see the havoc wreaked in people’s lives and in their walk with God by wrong counsel. As I pondered this shortly after, two people came to mind; One son and one grandson of David respectively; and they both fared badly.
One lost his life and the other a large portion of his kingdom. Why? They listened to the wrong people. One might argue that God did not support either of them and they would have failed anyway, yet the instrumentality of their failure is most telling – wrong counsel. They were given up to the tongues of persons who led them the wrong way.
The son who lost his life
When Absalom, in a surprise move evicted his father from the throne, he was at a decided military advantage and could pursue and rout his father’s armies with ease. He failed to do so and at that moment, he lost the war. Yet Absalom had on his team a man whose counsel was near infallible, Ahitophel. Even David on hearing that Ahitophel was with Absalom prayed earnestly that God would turn the counsel of Ahitophel to foolishness. He dispatched one of his own, Hushai, to feign loyalty to Absalom and counter Ahitophel’s advice.
Absalom listened to Hushai rather than Ahitophel and his fate was sealed. He placed his destiny in the hands of a man who had a hidden agenda. He did not have the wisdom to discern the quality of counsel he received, and the right person to receive counsel from. As a pastor I see that happen over and over again. People disregard those who can show them the right way and prefer to seek counsel from persons they should not be listening to at all. David’s man wanted Absalom to lose and David to win, and he succeeded. It was God’s will that Absalom fail but not that you fail, but if you did what he did…
The grandson who lost the kingdom
Rehoboam, one of David’s grandsons, succeeded his father Solomon as king. The people besought him to lighten their burden; the old men advised him to agree, and the young men to refuse and to threaten them with even greater burdens. He chose to heed the young men rather than the old. The people turned against the house of David and Jeroboam was made king of Israel (the ten tribes). Rehoboam was left with two tribes in the kingdom of Judah. His kingdom was amputated. Again, as in the case of Absalom, this was God’s will. But how was it done? Through giving Rehoboam up to wrong counsel. You need not share the fate of Rehoboam.
Sharing the fate of the unwise
Many in the church have shared the fate of these two unwise men. They listen to the wrong person and embark on a course of action that jeopardizes their relationship with God. They are unstable, going from church to church and meeting to meeting without seeing progress in their lives because they are following the wrong person and counsel. They disconnect from their mentors because they take wrong advice. They marry the wrong person and their lives fall apart because they followed a false counsellor. No child of God should share the fate of Absalom and Rehoboam. We can learn from them and choose, with the wisdom that God gives, to identify right and wrong counsellors. False counsellors fall into different categories.
Who are these false consellors?
People with an agenda
Some people give wrong counsel because they have an agenda, as David’s man did.
Their priority is not you or your welfare, it is theirs. David’s cause was noble, and Hushai’s actions justified; not so the wrong counsellors of our day. They are carnal people lusting for power, influence, revenge, significance, whatever. These are those people who
- share strange ideas and visions to mystify you and gain an advantage over you;
- criticise people they know you are in right relationship with;
- always have a ‘word’ to share with you in secret;
- always have a different opinion (in private) from the leadership and share them at length with you to push you into rebellion;
- poison your mind against someone they have an issue with;
- strip you of your innocence and goodwill towards others with their tongue;
- try to lure people away from their old church while badmouthing the church and its leadership,
- give counsel that will put you in the same bad situation as they;
- advise you based on their bitterness against another person, using you to get their own back.
From such, flee.
People who are ignorant
Some give counsel out of ignorance. That was the case of the young men who spoke to Rehoboam and advised him to play tough with the people. It cost him the larger portion of the kingdom.
Wrong counsel can amputate a destiny. Identify the ignorant who speak much and mete out counsel because they are unconscious of their own ignorance. Such do not necessarily have an agenda, (sometimes they do), but mostly they lack wisdom. They are not aware of the foolishness of their words and the potential repercussions. They will repeat or reinforce what another has said. Your life is your own, let it not be trifled with. Sometimes these are friends who are otherwise well meaning. They may even seem to be compassionate, to care more about you, to ‘understand’ you better than the ‘old men’. But beware, empathy is not synonymous with wisdom and truth.
Rehoboam felt he would appear weak if he gave in and to his friends too. There is counsel that appears to favour you while what the ‘old men’ say may seem contrary to your interests. Never judge the wisdom of anything by the seeming immediate advantages to your person. Think long term survival, victory and progress. God will help you identify those counsellors whose words will jeorpadize your long term interests.
People who love to talk
Yet others give wrong counsel because they like the sound of their own voice.
They are neither deep nor spiritual but seek to be both, and more besides. They say what they think is right and do not dig deep to make sure they are not saying anything erroneous that is likely to hurt you. Such people like to express themselves, they like to have an opinion and so they speak. They tell you what to do when they have no idea if it is really so, it just sounds good to them. They have many spiritual ideas but little spiritual action, they have an interpretation for everything and none of it is accurate. And yet they speak. Accuracy is less important to them than self-expression. Of such beware.
People with a spirit of deception
And finally, some makeshift counsellors have a spirit of deception. They believe lies and spread lies. The devil is no fool. He knows how wrong words can destroy a person’s life. He witnessed the perdition of Absalom and the dejection of Rehoboam and countless more besides. Once a person cogitates on untruths, a spirit of deception will perpetuate those thoughts and solidify them into a firm conviction. Such people are dangerous to themselves and to others. They are deceived and deceive others with a firmness of purpose borne of their own conviction. People are often swayed by their certainty as they speak of things which they know little of. People afflicted with a spirit of deception are not only deceived but an instrument of deception and destruction of other people’s lives.
The onus is upon every individual to seek counsel from the right quarters and to seek the witness of the Holy Spirit on who to listen to and what to do in every situation. Judge with God’s Word. When anyone flouts Scriptural injunctions of humility, holiness, goodness, purity of word and deed in the way they speak and act, whatever idea they may claim to have, flee. God is not speaking to them. A person who is badmouthing people, friends, family, leadership, claims God is speaking to them. Run! A person in rebellion says God has directed them, ‘Run’!
When someone seeks to direct your life with their words, influence your thinking with their opinions, ask God if this person is sent of Him to you, of themselves to you or of the devil to you. You are not an Absalom nor are you a Rehoboam, He has not given you up to error, so He will show you. Even when people have an appearance of godliness, their words can be poison to your soul. Do not be fooled by their apparent sanctity, judge by the content and impact of their words. By their fruit you shall know them. Your life is that precious, protect it; your mind must be kept free of pollution. When we believe lies, we hinder our own capacity in hearing God. So beware!
Your life is a divine masterpiece under construction. You have a choice of building materials. Choose well.