Proverbs 11:14, "Where no
counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellers there is
This morning, man likes things that tickle his eyes and ears. Whenever some people ask questions, they are not really looking for you to state what you truly feel, but rather, they want you to say what they want to hear. A wise counseller is not someone who tells people what they want to hear (the way a politician might), but a wise counseller is one that speaks the truth in a firm, loving, and consistent way. There is a truly amazing downfall in man's nature to "seek" out counsel from other men all the while never harboring any inclination to change his present course, thinking, or path. The seeking of counsel is rather a show of false humility and meekness to garner favour and compassion from others, all the while remaining unmovable to the least degree. On the other hand, some men scoff at the idea of counsel in general as they feel it to be beneath them as they either 1. have everything figured out already, or 2. do not value or esteem anyone else high enough to counsel with (i.e. no one else is on their level).
Yet, when looking at counsel and counsellers, there is a stark contrast between its benefits and drawbacks between the natural realm and spiritual realm. When looking at the contrasts between the two natures of regenerate people, works/actions of both natures, and mindset of each nature, no two things could be more diametrically opposed. Looking at Galatians 5:19-23, Paul gives a long list of the works of the flesh followed by the fruit of the Spirit. The one list of actions flows from the wickedness of the old man's flesh and carnality. The other list of actions flows from the goodness and verity of the new man's spirituality and holiness. One list of actions is self-centered, while the other list of actions is Christ-centered.
Comparing other differences between natural/spiritual, we find that the very mindsets of both are different. The fallen, natural mind feels to be alive even though really dead in trespasses and in sins, while the regenerated, spiritual man feels death whenever made aware of a conviction for sin. (Romans 7:9) Therefore, considering these differences, is it any wonder that natural and spiritual would be diametrically opposed in the benefit/detriment of counsel?
There is an oft used (sometimes altered) expression that states, "Man as an individual is a genius, while man as a collective is a lemming." The verbiage of the statement changes somewhat from place to place, but the core thought remains. Put a man in a room with no one else, and he has the capacity for highly intelligent thoughts in the natural sense. However, this same man could be part of a large group and jump stupidly right off the cliff with everyone else just as lemmings do in nature. In the natural sense, man is equipped to survive. With no one else, his body is programmed to fight right to the very last breath, and his nature is to seek out whatever benefits and/or extends his condition and that last breath. In the sense of counsel, man is programmed to think that he is in need of nothing, and therefore, advice is unnecessary.
While man may be capable of great thoughts and amazing things as an individual, man is not equipped spiritually to be better off alone than with a group of people. While the "mob scene" can arise in many different venues and create an emotion that defies logic and intelligent thought, man's spiritual betterment and edification is predicated upon counsel. Solomon asserts that safety comes in the form of many counsellers. Consider a man freshly born of the Spirit of God without the Bible, without the gospel, without the church, and without fellow kindred to speak of how great things God has done for him. Is he capable of having "genius thoughts" about God and coming to any kind of correct understanding about God's election, predestination, eternal security, sovereignty, proper worship, etc.? Without some counsel, people are going to fall in this sense.
Would any of us know about the work of Christ as well as we do now without some counsel? I daresay that my highest moments of learning of these and other spiritual matters have come in the form of counsel from the pulpit in the heralding of the gospel. My questions were answered from the pulpit (without me verbally asking them; God knew). My ponderings were addressed over and over in sound wisdom and Godly teaching and counsel. My reading was enriched by good nuggets and food for thought from my brethren and spiritual kindred in Christ. Without these and many other forms of good counsel that I have received over the years, I certainly would have fallen in my life and in my understanding long ago.
Without good raising by Godly parents that consistently gave good counsel, my life would be drastically less safe than it is now. A lot of my adult safety has come from good parents bringing me up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. By instructing me in right from wrong, thus saith the Lord from what man has declared, and good choices from bad choices, my adult habits have led to a safer condition than many of my peers out in the community and business world.
One final place where good counsel, wise counsellers, and great safety is found is in the church, and especially in the collected wisdom of her inhabitants. There is an expression that has some merit, but it certainly cannot extend to the level that many take it, "What I do is my business." In the sense of our standing with the church, we cannot justly say such a thing. Without seeking good counsel from the church, we are on unsafe ground. By seeking good counsel from the church, we are surrounded by safety in the person of many counsellers. While strength in numbers is not generally a good indicator of merit or demerit, there is something to be said for many in the church all saying the same thing. As my natural father used to say, "If I stand in one place and 100 people in the world stand against me, then odds are, I am standing as I should. But, if I stand in one place and 100 people in the church stand against me, then odds are, I am not standing as I should." Again, numbers are not always the indicator, but if we value our brethren, we should take great consideration when a multitude of counsellers stand opposed to our action and conduct.
If we have been blessed to have good spiritual upbringing by our parents and continue to live in a good spiritual environment through the church and brethren in the faith, let us be thankful for a safe position that could never have been achieved alone. If we have been blessed to see into the great, deep wells of spiritual wisdom through preaching, teaching, and holy conversation with one another, let us be thankful for a level of knowledge that could not have been acquired alone. If we have been enriched in our lives through public worship with other worshippers to see the majesty of the Lord, let us thank God for blessing us to see His face together better than we ever could have alone. Finally, may we thank God that our spiritual edification is so very different than our natural betterment. Sometimes, we learn of our deep natural potential when alone and forced to survive and put our mettle to the test. Thankfully, we learn of our great spiritual potential when standing shoulder to shoulder, shield of faith to shield of faith, and in stride with other soldiers/believers. Truly, it is more pleasant and safe when we are with brethren in counsel together in one accord and one place. (Psalm 133)