Dear Madame Insert Preferred Name
Have you ever felt a rush of excitement flipping through the newspaper or the magazine to the “ask me” section? We have so many unvoiced questions, and when you add to that a desire for drama, what you could sometimes end up with is a lot of cheap or twisted advice that leaves the asker worse off or in a new set of troubles.
We seem to like to dole out advice, and everybody has something to say. In a world where you can send short seemingly smart statements and get a large following regardless of the quality of your words, how can we sort out what’s good and what’s to be tossed into the trash?
I recently read a tweet that said that validated some finding that people who swear more are honest. I have no idea how they came up with that, but the tweet got some traction. People trust their big life decisions with a great, all knowing writer whose credentials they don’t even know. “My husband hasn’t been paying me much attention recently, and I met someone who is open to having an extramarital relationship. Should I pursue this relationship?” “I have only phone sex with a stranger, as long as we don’t meet physically, and my husband doesn’t find out, is this okay?”
And then the answers come.
While it is definitely interesting to read about other people’s drama (this is not necessarily healthy or right), are we being sucked into the deception of getting cheap, probably wrong answers about things that count? Oh and let’s not forget the reading of horoscopes or palms, or other things that can supposedly be read.
I think the truth is that many of us are just too lazy to do the work of seeking God, following His principles, seeking out godly advice even when we’re asked to make difficult decisions, and actually following up with it. It’s hard, God knows, but are the other options really better?
I believe in sound advice. But I believe in being aware of the principles behind someone’s advice. What things drive the person giving the advice? What kind of lifestyle do they live? Is there evidence that this person is bearing the right fruit?
For Christians, this is even more important a topic. The benchmark is the person’s faith in Christ, evidence of the fruit of faith in Christ, and consistency with the word of God (the Bible). After all, I know good well-meaning people with a faulty belief system. I don’t mean to undermine their experience or knowledge, but I do mean to point out that their advice is not to be taken hook, line, and sinker. Even the Bible encourages such wise research. The Bereans mentioned in the book of Acts were praised because they listened to what Paul preached but went back to the scriptures to see for themselves if what he was saying was true. And don’t get me started on what is preached on the pulpit in some places in the Name of Christianity. That’s a sensitive topic for another day.
If we believe in God, then we must believe Him. He knows what’s up. He’s the one we should be asking for wisdom and help, trusting that He would lead us to the answers we need in the best ways He has provided.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:5,6 NIV)
Dear Madame _________ Thank you for your advice, but I think I’ll go do proper research in the scripture, and seek godly counsel for my relationship issues.