Thursday, June 02, 2005

Once in a while I will give someone advice, and wholeheartedly back it up, but later on in life I begin to doubt the advice I gave. I haven’t necessarily deemed it bad advice, I simply don’t trust in it fully anymore. So I talk to a friend about it, and he/she advises me to do a certain thing about it, since I myself am doubting my own judgement. Then I begin to doubt their advice, because I know that they may be as unsure of themselves as I was. So who is really right? Am I right in doubting? Does it depend on your judgment of the issue? In this world we often get so caught up in the opinions of others. Not Godly counsel, but simply the opinions of our friends, our coworkers, and in some cases ungodly or foolish family members. So easily are we swayed by one person’s opinion.
It often starts out wrong from the very beginning. Rather than asking God, we ask ourselves and try to weigh it out by our circumstances. It’s not so much the fact that we are weighing it out as it is the way we weigh it out. We ask ourselves if it is acceptable in today’s society, we ask if our friends/family would approve, and we ask if it will harm us. If we have gone through these and we’re still not sure of it, rather than praying about it, and earnestly seeking Godly counsel, we ask our peers. Perhaps this is not so significant as one grows older, but I have problems with teenagers counseling each other. They’re as foolish as you are, if not more foolish! Yet if we are undecided on a moral, ethical, or otherwise important issue, we often let our friends influence us in a huge way. I don’t know that it’s very unavoidable, but we need to be very careful of who our friends are, and who we let influence us. After all it’s not about the friends we have, or the fun we have, but about how we live. Nothing wrong with having friends, or having fun, but they should be secondary to the job God has for us; pleasing Him.
“Do you think it would really be that bad if I did XY and Z?”
“Oh of course not! I’ve thought about that a lot and the way I figure”- and here the typical teenager divulges into some very foolish, teenagerish worldly logic, such as “Everyone else does it“, “It doesn‘t say not to in the Bible“, and “It can‘t really be that bad if the pastor‘s daughter did it last week“. At the very least, this can get confusing. You mother says the total opposite, and someone you really think is a true Christian comes somewhere in the middle, and one of your other friends can’t imagine that you’re even having a problem making this decision. Confusion can lead to chaos, and I don’t think we want to live in chaos. In chaos we lose sight of the Truth.
One of the most interesting things about this is that it can be a façade. The whole thing. When we’re unsure of something, it bolsters our opinion when we give it to someone, and they accept it. Your friends, no doubt, are just as confused as you are, but it makes them feel better to give you the advice THEY want to hear, rather than what they know is right. When you are debating something within yourself, and the human part of you says “YES! GO AHEAD!” and the Born Again part of you says “NO! DON’T!” it’s easier if someone else comes by and quiets the Born Again part of you. That person doesn’t even have to be fully convinced of it, they just have to be able to convince you that they’re convinced. Not very difficult to accomplish, especially with your human nature lusting for that OK, that word of approval. We seem to be slower accepting advice that fights against our nature than advice that goes along with it. So you go to a friend that is clueless because you are clueless, and you end up clueless, but very confident that you are right, because your friend has fed the wrong side, intentionally or unintentionally. For instance, have you ever assured a friend that she hasn’t made a mistake by buying something, and then afterward think I was only trying to make her feel better. I know that purchase was really pretty foolhardy or I don‘t really know anything about what those are worth. but it can’t hurt her though to tell her it wasn‘t as bad a rip off as she said it was, it made her feel better. I guess most of the problem is dishonesty, and the unwillingness to admit that we simply aren’t sure about something. We want to appear wise, so we open our mouths quickly to give our opinion.
Not only are we lead astray into accepting things that are simply ungodly, we can also get terribly mixed up in our doctrine and in other facets of our faith. It doesn’t have to be something that seems liberal or worldly. When you see a friend absolutely convinced that a certain thing is wrong and abstains from it because of his/her conviction, sometimes we look again and ask ourselves if we really should be engaging in that activity. Yet instead of seeking Godly wisdom, we ask our friends, or just try to ‘feel’ it out. So if it just feels like it’s too conservative, we throw it out. If we receive enough encouragement that it’s the right thing, we might decide that it’s the right thing for us too. But haven’t we lost sight of the truth here? We’re going on what a friend thinks, and then weighing that against what others think. When you try to take the advice of everyone you end up with a big mess. We can lose sight of the truth if we do not focus on God, our relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, and His Word,
I must add that in saying this, I am - in a way - giving advice. Please let me offer it as an analysis of what I have observed. The only ultimate authority on our lives is the Word of God. Instead of seeking the advice of fools, we should “seek the counsel of the wise”, and rather than asking how much we can get away with, we should ask how we can please God the most.
Not all teenagers are stupid I suppose. Some adults are no wiser than the dumbest teenagers, and some teenagers are wiser than some pretty smart adults. Please be careful of who you let influence your life. It will get terribly confusing otherwise!

I’m realizing more and more that I can’t rely on what my parents believe, or what anyone believes. I can’t let someone else tell me what the Bible says. The only way I see to remedy that is to read it, and spend more time in prayer about it. Some people (on both sides) have such good arguments, but what is a good argument if it doesn’t stand for the truth. If something can be presented in a way that seems logical, and is backed up by popular opinion, does it make it true? Of course not. Does is mean anything that 99% of all people think a certain way? No, it doesn’t. Does it make it true if someone who has formerly proved to be wise says it? It doesn’t make it true, but perhaps it’s more likely. However since there’s a chance that even a very wise man has it wrong, then we must do the only thing we can do. Ask God for help, and seek the truth in His Word. How confusing things would get without that.

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