Reading: Exodus 18, John 3
“Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you.” Exodus 18:19
“Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3
Let me give you some advice, said Moses’ father-in-law. “The thing you are doing is not good. Now listen to me and I will give you counsel.” Exodus 18:17
If I were Moses, I would try to change the subject. Moses had been getting all his advice, his instructions from God Himself. Did he really need to hear the opinion of his father-in-law, a Midianite priest whose religious credentials, at least to me, seemed questionable?
But we read, “Moses listened to all that he said.” Ex 18:24 He followed his advise precisely.
Most weekends we have groups using Story Book Lodge Christian Camp where my wife and I live. So, when I do work that needs to be done around the camp, it’s not unusual for someone to come by to see what I am doing. And, it’s not unusual for that someone to offer me advice on how to better do whatever I might be doing.
One Saturday morning I was using my chain saw to cut wood for our woodstove when a tall, muscular man with his ten year old son stood in front of me and put his hand out to signal me to stop. The man said it was unacceptable how I started my chain saw by holding it between my knees. “That’s very unsafe.” He took my chain saw, put it on the ground, held it with his foot and pulled the cord. “That’s how you start a chain saw.” He then showed me how each log needed to be pulled out of the pile and cut individually. “It’s a safer and more efficient use of the saw,” he said.
“Thank you,” I told him, hoping he would go away. But he insisted I demonstrate that I understood his advice by starting the saw several times with the saw on the ground. I also had to pull one log at a time from my pile, shut off the saw, stack the pieces I had cut, and pull the next log from the pile.
Needless to say, I do not heed this man’s advice. Never, to my dying day, will I ever start my chainsaw by holding it on the ground.
When someone gives advice, that person is telling you that you are doing things wrong and you clearly need his intelligence to do things properly. That means accepting advice is generally painful.
As a young man, graduated from college less than a year, my father saw I was not in a good living situation. He said to me, “You need to come home.” At that time, this advice was not painful. I did need to come home. I was there for a short while and was then able to go on to a much better living situation.
We had a good friend who we saw was about to make a very poor decision. We gave him good counsel, but he told us he was God’s man and he only took advice from the Lord. Others talked to him. He said if there was someone out there with greater spiritual maturity than himself, with better spiritual credentials, he would listen to that person. Amazingly, there was no one out there who could meet those credentials for him. He went through with his decision. The result was trouble; to his family, to his friends, and especially to himself.
The Lord Jesus offered unsolicited advice to Nicodemus. “You must be born again.” John 3: 7 Talk about painful. He was telling Nicodemus that his life was so far off the track that he must start completely over again—all the way back to birth.
From what we later read about Nicodemus, he must have heeded our Lord’s advice—to his great advantage!
From whom will you accept advice?