Listen to advice and accept discipline so that you may be wise the rest of your life.
Many plans are in the human heart,
but the advice of the Lord will endure.
The fear of the Lord leads to life,
and such a person will rest easy without suffering harm.
If you stop listening to instruction, my son,
you will stray from the words of knowledge. (Proverbs 19:20-21, 23, 27 GW)
(Context—Proverbs 19:15-29 GW)
Unsolicited advice is cheap and plentiful. Just like opinions, everybody seems to have advice to give about—life, diet, exercise, business, politics, religion… you name it.
Equating advice as wisdom would be an oxymoron. Not all advice is wise. Go to a racetrack and ask for tips on which horse to bet on. You’re sure to get plenty of advice but the majority of it is useless or worse.
This is true for many other scenarios in life. And yet, people keep handing out free advice that others try to follow. I suppose some of the advice may be useful but I wouldn’t count on it.
So, how can anyone be sure of any advice? Of course, it’s important to consider the source of the advice. Is the person trustworthy? Does the one giving advice follow it themselves?
GIGO—Garbage In, Garbage Out. This term was coined in the late 50’s as computers began to make their impact in mathematics, science, and business. Simply put, sloppy input produces unreliable output.
Just because a computer spits out calculated information, no one should blindly accept its output as true. Look at all the political and election polls and how skewed or far off they are from actual results or from one poll to another.
If the data input is incorrect, the output will also be incorrect. If the program calculating or analyzing the data is flawed or susceptible to glitches, then the output shouldn’t be trusted.
The only way to avoid bad advice is to be discerning enough to know the difference between what’s good or bad or questionable advice. Understand the origin of the advice. Where is it drawn from and who is giving it?
As explained before, the Proverbs of Solomon are often expressed as guidance from a father to a son. Solomon, the primary author, sees God as the father and Bible narratives provide scores of life examples of sons to learn from—both good and bad.
Here is reliable guidance for avoiding bad advice based on these 4 selected verses—
verse 20– Two things are recommended to gain lifelong wisdom—listen to good advice and make a continuing commitment to apply it in daily life.
verse 21– Others may have advice to offer and our own heart will generate plenty of plans and ideas but only advice that originates from the Lord will last.
verse 23– Good, reliable advice is grounded in a genuine awe and respect for the Lord. The fear of God leads to life because of the confident trust we have in Him.
verse 27– Commitment and discipline to the truth of God are essential for us to maintain the discernment needed to avoid listening to bad advice and holding to good, reliable guidance for our life.
Avoiding bad advice requires discernment to know the difference between what’s good or bad or questionable. When you listen to good, reliable advice and commit yourself to follow it, you can gain a life guided by sound wisdom.
Ask God for discernment to help you know what is good advice to follow. Pray for God’s guidance and wisdom daily and for understanding of what you read in the Bible.
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