Careful in Counsel
Today's Reading: 2 Samuel 23-24; Luke 19:1-27
They continually say to those who despise Me, 'The Lord has said, "You shall have peace"'; And to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, 'No evil shall come upon you.' "For who has stood in the counsel of the Lord, And has perceived and heard His word? Who has marked His word and heard it? Jeremiah 23:17-18
Jeremiah was a prophet called by the Lord to give His message to the people. Unfortunately, the message from God was not good news. The Lord told the people of their impending destruction and captivity. His words were severe and too hard for them to accept. In contrast to Jeremiah's prophecies, others proclaiming to be prophets told the people not to fear, that they would have peace. These false prophets used the Lord's name to declare their worthless predictions, and the people chose to believe the false prophets instead of Jeremiah. But these so-called prophets had no relationship or counsel with the Lord God Almighty. They would be held accountable before the Lord for their actions as they blatantly deceived the people.
This message applies to us today as well, especially when we speak on behalf of the Lord. We must be sure that our counsel or encouragement to others has been prayerfully taken before the Lord. We must stand in the counsel of the Lord and hear from Him before we offer counsel or advice to anyone else. This message is not only critical to those of us in ministry roles, but also true for any Christian who truly desires to help others. We must realize our responsibility before the Lord. When someone is hurting while going through difficult trials, our human response is to comfort and encourage them. But we also must be in prayer for them and ask the Lord to give us His wisdom in how to help. If we are not standing before the Lord, then our words may give false hopes or assurances that are not of the Lord. They could end up placing their hope on our words instead of God's Word.
Regardless of how little or often you counsel others, make sure you heed the words of these verses and take everything to the Lord first. Whether in ministry or other roles, our hearts as Christians will desire to help others, but we must always recognize our inadequacies. Only God knows what He is doing with people and we must walk with Him daily to know how He wants to use us to help them. If we are not careful, just as in Jeremiah's day, we can do far greater harm by offering hope and assurances that are not of the Lord. Take everything to Him in prayer and ask Him to give you Scriptures for any counsel you may give. Always stand on the Word of God. And when in doubt, pray for the self-control to listen instead of speaking.