The priority of the counsel of God
Whether it is advice for life-changing decisions, or guidance for a task at hand, have we found such convenience in seeking the opinions of men first, that pressing in to the voice of the Father has become our second option?
Several years ago, I was asked to perform a dance at the adult service in church. As I walked through the congregation after performing a dance to the song, The More I Seek You, during the Sunday church service, many people smiled at me, and a few stretched their hand out to thank me for that dance — calling it beautiful and sharing with me how they needed that.
At a moment where I least expected it, God’s voice thundered through the sea of encouraging comments from the body of Christ, “Amanda, do people’s opinions of your dance matter to you more than My opinions?” His words weighed upon my heart as I started to realise that I was more concerned about what people thought of the dance than what God thought of it.
This incident began my journey in learning the importance of letting God have the first say in everything in my life — whether it was receiving affirmation, direction, or even correction. The Lord ought to have the first say in my life.
When it comes to life’s troubles, ministry matters, and workplace woes, it is, oftentimes, so much easier to talk things through with people we trust — our close friends, church leaders, or office supervisors — than to wait on the Lord and give Him space in our lives to speak.
This does not mean that we should abandon wise counsel (the book of Proverbs constantly urges us to seek the counsel of many advisors, as reflected in Proverbs 15:22), but there is so much power in letting God have the first say in all things prior to seeking men’s opinions.
Three years ago, I was searching for my first full-time job. I remember speaking to so many people to tap into their wisdom that I got overwhelmed by all the advice I had received. My parents, leaders, and friends contributed their opinions as to which industries I should look into, what types of companies are good for a first job, and so on.
Taking in their respective advice, I applied to every job opening that I thought was right according to these people, yet nothing came through. It was only when I came to the end of myself and let out a cry for the Lord to speak into my situation that He opened the door to my first job without me seeking it out. It fell right into my lap. Why hadn’t I run to God first?
Today, after every written article, preached sermon, completed project, I would first quieten my heart before the Lord before receiving feedback from others. I would ask Him, “Lord, what are You saying? How did that go? What do you think of it?”
As I learnt to seek God’s thoughts before man’s, I discovered these three lessons:
1. Clarity in our Spirit
When we allow God to have the first say in our lives, it gives us the space to recognise and adopt God’s perspective in relation to our situations, away from the clutter of differing opinions from others and even our own.
It can often get slightly confusing and messy when we have listened to numerous clashing opinions. One man’s conviction might be another man’s compromise, therefore we cannot base our lives on what people say alone, we also need to base it on what the Lord says.
As we seek the Lord for His thoughts and ways, He is faithful to reveal all things in His perfect time. As you quieten your heart, may the Spirit of the Lord rest upon you, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2).
2. Hunger for His Word
I believe that when we desire to give God the first say in any situation, we seek Him with a greater hunger and, in the process, anchor our lives upon the Word of God. It is a choice we make: instead of simply listening to what people have to say about it, we need to intentionally incline our ears to His Word.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:1-3).
When you taste and see the goodness and sweetness of God’s Word activated in your life, it shall whet your appetite to continually approach Him first, before anyone else. When we lean into His voice and Word, we plant ourselves neatly into His will and purpose, trusting that He knows us better than we know ourselves.
3. The Father’s Delight
It is in God’s nature to be our Comforter, Redeemer, and Saviour. He takes so much delight when we, His children, run to Him — whether in cry out for Him to rescue us, or us simply desiring to hear His affections. As we approach His presence with our whole devotion, the Lord shall reveal the secrets of His heart, faithfully guiding and protecting us in all things.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation” (Psalm 91:14-16).
On 30 May 2016, Malcolm started pursuing me. As the days went by, I actively sought after the Lord’s leading while keeping myself accountable to my family and closest of friends. As the Lord revealed His heart for us through His Word, I began to find a deep security in His truth and perfect timing. I truly found such joy knowing that as I journeyed towards a relationship with this man, it was not just the blessings from our family and friends that gave us the confidence and assurance, but it was the Word of God that was our firm foundation and pillar of love.
There is such a beauty in us learning to live every single day with Jesus. May we never anchor our lives upon the thoughts and ways of men, but always remain rooted in what the Lord is saying in every situation of our lives. He longs for us to listen to His voice, and He longs to speak. May God truly have the first say in your life.