The Wisdom of Counsel

“Moses father-in-law said to him, ‘What you are doing is not good’” (v. 17).

- Exodus 18

Our brief examination of what Scripture has to say about the will of God included a look at the importance of having both an internal call and an external call when it comes to discovering one’s calling — especially in the church. The external call comes from others, by those who have some acquaintance with our gifts and abilities.

Considering the role of the external call more broadly, we can see that the Lord often encourages His people to seek the counsel of others when they have to make important decisions. Today’s passage, for example, records a lesson Moses learned early in his calling as leader of the covenant community. Seeing that Moses was taking upon himself the responsibility to decide all the judicial cases of the people of Israel, his father-in-law Jethro saw that he would soon be worn out. Jethro wisely exhorted Moses to appoint other men to help him judge the nation so that he would be able to endure. Moses complied (Ex. 18:13–27), and he regarded this advice as important enough to record for God’s people, as a piece of wisdom that would benefit the church forever.

Proverbs 11:14 tells us more directly that there is safety in an abundance of counselors. Obviously, the Bible does not mean that a large number of people automatically ensure that good choices will be made; we all know the disaster that can occur when unwise leaders join together. Scripture assumes that the counselors who bring safety are wise counselors. When we seek out the advice of experienced, godly people, we will be more apt to make wise decisions.

The Lord reveals His wisdom to us in the Bible, which is our final authority for all matters of faith and practice. But sometimes it is difficult for us to apply Scripture’s teaching to our own situations, especially when our emotional investment is high. Christians who are more knowledgeable than we are about the Word of God and have more experience applying it to life can help us see the Lord’s will when we cannot. Older people in our churches should especially be cherished for their wisdom, and we should seek relationships with them so that we might benefit from their wise counsel.

Coram Deo

It is good to have at least one wise person to whom you can turn when you need advice. Younger people especially need the counsel of an older Christian, a wise mentor who can help them avoid mistakes and navigate tough situations. Do you have a mentor or counselor to whom you can turn? If not, find one. Are you an older person who might be able to offer wisdom to a young person in need? Find someone who needs you in his life.

Passages for Further Study

Psalm 33:11
Proverbs 13:10; 15:22

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.