“Wisdom is too high for a fool; in the gate he does not open his mouth.” (Proverbs 24:7, ESV)
One time I had a person that I was trying very hard to help in his job. I had some years of experience in the same job and thought to shed some light on his work performance, giving some constructive criticism. When I would give some godly counsel, he would always be polite, saying he appreciated my advice. However, it was kind of like “Yea, yea,” but he never seemed to do anything with the advice I gave him. This is often the problem that makes counselling ineffective. A wise person will not just listen to a counselor, but also harken to what he or she is told.
In the proverb, we see this exact issue presented. This is a picture of elders sitting at the gates of the city and giving advice or judgment to those who will seek it. These men were considered to be the wise men of the city and qualified to give their judgement on issues. However, the verse indicates that the “fool” has a problem. The “fool” is one who does not have the “wisdom” he seeks. This is obvious. However, the “fool” is also one who will not heed the wisdom given. Moreover, he may not seek the right kind of counsel. There are several essential practices for using counselors.
First, the one seeking godly counsel must be humble enough to listen. Pride in the heart of the person using the filter can be a major issue. Granted, if the person seeking wisdom in sorting out his or her thought and ideas has used the first filter, pride should not be an issue. The reason is that if one passed through the first filter, “Am I living like a spiritual person,” they should not be struggling with the fleshly problem of pride. However, pride is a constant battle for every believer, yes, even for the mature.
I had a leader in one of the church’s I pastored who thought he was quite a mature believer. On one occasion we were discussing an idea he had. In that discussion, he went to great lengths to tell me he how he was not at all proud. That struck me as a problem. It has been my experience that anyone who boasts about not being proud has stumbled in his own opinions of himself. The person seeking counsel must understand the deceptive nature of pride and how it can destroy wise counsel.
The Scripture states that, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18, ESV) The proud person will struggle to filter out his or her thoughts. One of the problems I have seen with those seeking counsel is that they will often summarily reject the advice given. The writer of Proverbs wrote, “A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding.” (Proverbs 14:6, ESV) The proud person “wisdom” may go to a counsellor, but will generally interpret the counsel in accordance with his or her own fleshly perceptions. It will be as if they have a pride constructed filter that will take the advice of a godly counsellor and remove anything that does not agree with one’s own preconceived desires.
To use the filter of godly counsellors the person seeking “wisdom” must be a living like a spiritual person and guard against his or her own wants and desires. Before meeting with a counselor, the person seeking advice should spend time in prayer, asking the Lord to reveal any fleshly and prideful preconceptions that they might have regarding their thoughts and ideas on an issue. They should ask that the Lord give them an open mind. In the session, they should listen to and prayerfully consider the advice given. In this they should examine the Scriptures to see if the advice is correct. The Berean Christians seethe example in this. (More in the next devotion.)