Good advice vs. Bad advice: who do you listen to?

Who do you listen to the most? A trusted friend, spouse, partner, co-worker, news anchor, radio DJ, or random guy giving insider tips from his basement? We all have people around us that are trying to guide us or nudge us one way or another, but have you ever stopped to consider their endgame. Are they really looking out for you and care about your well being or are they just using you? It might be time to consider the source of the advice.

I want to share a Bible story about a guy named Naaman so we can see the value of having the right voices speaking into our lives. We aren’t meant to go through this life alone, but we might be better off lonely for a while than being around the wrong voices. The story from the Bible comes from 2 Kings 5. I will paraphrase it for you, but highly recommend that you read it (And yes, I am trying to be a positive voice that cares about your well being.)

Naaman was the captain in the army for the king of Aram. He was a good man and very respected, not to mention a total tail kicking fighter (Could’ve been a ninja or pirate, not sure.) You didn’t want to mess with Naaman. I tell you this, because sometimes we read Scripture and based on how the story ends up, we make the person out to be a soft person who is emotionally driven to make a decision to trust God. Not the case here, this was a hard man who you didn’t want to bump into in a dark alley. Vs. 1 gives us two important pieces of information about Naaman. First, God was giving Naaman victories and was using Naaman to bring judgement on His people. This doesn’t mean that Naaman recognized God, worshipped Him, or even believed; but simply that God was directing Naaman’s life and Naaman was benefitting from it. Second, Naaman was a leper. He had an incurable skin disease that would ultimately take his life.

Through several conquests, Naaman had taken a young girl from the nation of Israel and she was an attendant in his home. She knew about his disease and decided to help. She didn’t have to and really no one would have faulted her for withholding valuable information from the guy who had abducted her, but she took the high road, honored God, and spilled the beans. She recommended that he go see a prophet named Elisha from her homeland. Naaman could have ignored her, thought it was a trap, or trust the little girl. Fortunately for him, he chose to heed the good counsel of the young girl. Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” 

Naaman heads toward Israel to meet the prophet. Don’t you know that Naaman is running every type of scenario through his head. Maybe the prophet with send me to fight an enemy, pay a large price, or do something embarrassing like singing karaoke in a kilt while doing yoga poses in roller skates. Naaman had to be wondering what fate he was up against when he would meet the prophet. But he didn’t even meet the prophet. The prophet’s assistant came out with a message. The assistant told Naaman to go for a swim in the Jordan river and dunk 7 times. Get this, Naaman refused. He listened to the servant girl, travelled a long way into enemy territory, and now refuses to be healed. He was rejecting godly counsel. Naaman was hacked off by this trivial plan for his salvation. It didn’t make sense and it was beneath him, so he thought.

Fortunately, Naaman had good men around him to keep his from rejecting salvation that was 7 dunks away in the Jordan river. Naaman and his king were willing to pay a high price for his healing, but Naaman despised the simple way of salvation. Naaman was prideful, which shows how much he needed healing from the inside out. Vs. 13-14, Naaman’s servants gathered around him to tell him how childish he was acting (my words not theirs’). They said if the prophet would have told you to do a great task, you would do it with joy. But since he told you go dunking in the river, that’s where you draw the line??? Seriously?!?! His servants compelled him to get in the water. Naaman could’ve bowed up and refused or he could listen and live. So He did. Naaman was completely healed of his disease and trusted God as his God while rejecting the god’s of his people. Salvation came to Naaman for his earthly life as well as his eternal soul. I believe it was because he had the right people around him and he listened to wise counsel.

So what about you? Who do you have around you? Who are the most prevalent voices that speak into you? Do they point toward life and guard your soul? Or do they constantly point you toward sketchy decisions that leave you empty or maybe leading you toward death? I mentioned earlier that we aren’t made to go through this life alone, but at times it is better to be lonely for a while than be around the wrong people. I can remember a time in my mid-twenties when I had enough of being around the wrong people constantly. I still liked them and would go hang out with them today if I could, but I needed some space so that I could make the decisions that were best for me. I desperately needed friends and community, but they weren’t it. I chose being isolated and lonely for a season so that I could hear from God. God blessed that decision by giving me a partner for life, my wife. She has been a continual source of godly advice and I wouldn’t be where I am today without her godly counsel over and over again. If you have questionable friends with questionable motives, then I advice you to take a break so you can hear from God and he will bless it. You will go much further in life and will begin to make godly decisions when you are surrounded by people who help you grow closer to Christ. Think where Naaman would’ve been had he been surrounded by toxic people. The same is true for you.

Here are some things to look for in people to surround yourself with. Look for people how are always encouraging others, building up other people, kind people, tough but loving people, challenging people (meaning they always see more in you than you do in yourself and want to make sure you get there), and most importantly they need to be a Christ follower. If you look to surround yourself with these kinds of people, you will experience growth that will blow your mind and God will do something incredible in and through you!

Grace and Peace to you as you choose wisely who gets to speak into your life. I pray God gives you the courage you need to sever some friendships if you need to. If I can help in any way, please let me know!

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