Yesterday we looked at the importance of being trustworthy as children of God. “Whoever shows contempt for his neighbor lacks sense, but a man with understanding keeps silent. A gossip goes around revealing a secret, but a trustworthy person keeps a confidence.” (Prov 11:12-13)
Today, I want to look at the next couplet: “Without guidance, people fall, but with many counselors there is deliverance.” (Prov 11:14) This verse commends seeking advice from others; taking the step of conferring with other people makes one much more likely to reach a good conclusion. When people refuse to take good advice, and turn to “echo chambers,” where all they hear are their own opinions being repeated, they are more vulnerable to lies and errors.
The word “guidance” here comes from a term applied to the steering of a ship. A ship without proper guidance is likely to crash onto rocks, collide with another ship, or run aground. In the same way, people without worthwhile advice experience disaster. “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Prov 27:17)
Old Testament kings surrounded themselves with counselors. Wise counselors gave good advice about confronting an enemy, but unwise counselors brought trouble to the king and the nation. The more wise counselors a believer can rely on, the stronger and richer his life is. He is steered in the right direction. Today, we need our friends who stand on God’s Word as godly counselors. “And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Heb 10:24-25)
Occasionally, wise counsel may point out a person’s weaknesses and his tendency to do the wrong thing: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov 27:6a). Good advice is not always pleasant advice, but true friends will not merely tell a person what they want to hear.
Giving bad advice just to make friends is the mark of a false teacher. Paul counsels Timothy to warn the church at Ephesus about the influence of such people (1 Tim 4:1–3). He tells Timothy, “If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished by the words of the faith and the good teaching that you have followed.” (1 Tim 4:6).
Let us seek godly counsel! “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Ps 1:1-6)