To Heed or Listen?

alisten

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise. – Proverbs 12:15

The life of a Christian can be marked by certain signs or fruits that give validity to their claim of Christianity. We live in a time and in a culture that many will say they are Christians. People will say things like, “I was born into a Christian family”, “I’ve always believed”, “I was baptized as a child”, etc, etc…

The Bible gives us instruction for Christian living and last week I talked about the role of Scripture in the life of a believer. If you don’t have any sort of a relationship with your Bible, no matter what you think or what you say, then Scripture says you most likely are not. Of course there are some extreme exceptions to that rule, such as the Thief on the Cross, but for most it’s not the case.

In the time since my conversion to Christianity I’ve seen and experienced a lot of people in the church world and in particular in our local gathering that bear fruits of salvation for a season. They experience life change, they come to all the meetings, they fellowship and do life together, but then something happens. It’s consistent that one thing drives them away.

My experience is that they will “hear” counsel, but they won’t “heed” counsel.

Many will hear…but the difference is do they listen?

The word (shama`) – to hear, to listen to, obey, yield to.

This is not very common in this day, because most of us think we’ve got it all figured out. We live in a world of rugged individualism, a world of autonomy, we desire our own freedoms and to be our own “man” or “woman”.

We might listen to someone and then weigh it out to see if it makes sense, but to obey is a completely different subject. Only if it makes sense for me will I do what I’m being asked to do.

In the book or Proverbs we see this message repeated over and over again, and I’m guessing this was done purposefully to get our attention.

Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days. – Proverbs 19:20

The word “listen” is the same word as “heed” in the previous verse; its meaning is far deeper than just hearing what someone has to say, it means that you will be convinced by the speaker with a desire to obey.

A wise man will “hear” (shama`) and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel. – Proverbs 1:5

This surely begs the question who is the wise counsel?

In most cases this is where the church has failed to teach properly. I use the word “church” in a broad sense, but I’m in particular referring to a true church, a gathering of God’s people that places the authority, sufficiency and inerrancy of Scripture as the rule by which we must live our lives, where the holiness of God is exalted and the sinfulness of man is exposed. A place where Jesus Christ is the focus of the only hope sinful man has for salvation and they attempt to live a life wholly pleasing to God and use Scripture as their guide.   There is certainly more to a true church, but if these are not in the forefront the gospel has no teeth.

Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Here we see the New Testament argument for Believers and this points us to who should be our primary line of wise counsel. This is speaking of the Elders in the church, and the word “obey” (peithō) means to be persuaded, to suffer one’s self to be persuaded; to be induced to believe.

The Elders should be persuading and most importantly we should be persuaded and not only persuaded but then listen to and obey.   Yield to them. “Wise” counsel should be informed and persuaded using the Word of God. This is the lynch-pin by which this must hinge.

Unless you are being asked to sin, you should be persuaded. It’s pretty simple, and if you are being asked to sin, from that you should flee. Elders have been placed over you as protection for your soul, and when you disobey, it’s unprofitable for you and it grieves them.

By today’s standards this is completely counter-cultural and hated by most professing Christians because most want to be in control which by definition is wise in our own eyes.

Many good Christians don’t have churches that practice this, nor do they even have good churches, and in that case you should seek out the godliest counsel you can obtain given your circumstance, but don’t use it as a crutch and an opportunity to sin. If you are given good counsel, listen to it, and obey it, because someone truly loves your soul and wants what is best for you.

 

Kevin

Are you a malcontent?

discontent

Are you a malcontent?

I am… Aren’t we all at times in our life?

You know when things don’t go the way you envision, or you really get tired of that one particular kid screaming in service, even though it’s mine…

We all have our moments, right?

If you are a member of a body of believers there are just going to be times when you have complaints. Of course they are legitimate complaints; I wouldn’t think anything else, because mine are also legitimate. Of course your “feelings” matter, and there are even times when you are having a bad day and it’s, even more okay for you to act out, even if it’s only in your mind.

I do it…we all do it right? Sort of a misery loves company thing.

Oh, I know you said it’s legitimate, and I did too, but is it really legit, or is it sin? Yes, I realize the pastor is there for your good pleasure, and he didn’t respond in the way you wanted him too, but really now he does have a job to do doesn’t he? And maybe he takes the shepherding of your soul a little too serious?

…work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Hmmm….

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. – Philippians 2:12-16

It looks like Paul had a similar experience in his church? I wonder if he was writing this to me.

Okay, that’s sarcasm; I know you wouldn’t really think I’d be sarcastic.

I could spend some time digging into the Greek words here, but if I read this plainly it just hurts, as I consider the amount of complaining I do. And God just set this up by telling me to work out my salvation, with fear and trembling.

Have you ever had a really scary dream and you shook under the covers because it was so real? I can think of a couple times when I dreamt something had happened to one of my children. I woke up in drop dead fear, weeping and crying. Does Paul mean that kind of fear, that kind of trembling? I didn’t like that dream, and I don’t like that sort of trembling.

Did we remember that Paul also tells us to consider others better than ourselves in Chapter 2 of Philippians? This is pretty tough stuff if we really are to shine as lights as the verse tells us.

Last week I wrote about what is truth, and in writing about today’s topic, we must revisit last week’s reality. If you are a Believer, you don’t have to live out of your fleshly lusts, we have truth.

It means we have to put off our old self. It means we need to deny those fleshly desires, and crucify them. It’s not easy to be a Christian. No wonder Jesus said the path was difficult, it’s a lot easier just to complain about so and so, or the ridiculous new, you name it, that the elders are wanting us to do.

Whew…. I feel better now, how about you?

Brothers and sisters, we are called to strive for the unity of the body, this is not easy to do, because not everyone is as perfect as I am. They don’t all see it the way I see it, and I’m certain my way IS the best way; I’ve certainly proven that over time. (More sarcasm for those that don’t know me)

Ephesians 4:1-3 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace…

I know… If only they conformed to my way of thinking everything would be better, but since I’m not in a church full of Kevin’s I guess I better spend some time with the Lord, repent and seek His forgiveness for my bad attitude.

“IF” I’m one of His… Ouch, that hurts.

 

Kevin