PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“So the administrators and princes went to the king and said, ‘Long live King Darius! We administrators, prefects, princes, advisers, and other officials have unanimously agreed that Your Majesty should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next thirty days anyone who prays to anyone, divine or human — except to Your Majesty — will be thrown to the lions. And let Your Majesty issue and sign this law so it cannot be changed, a law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.’ So King Darius signed the law” (Daniel 6:6-9 New Living Translation).
Different people have spoken into your life in the past, and many others will still speak. They’ll talk to you about yourself in relation to others or give you information and advice about others. Not all that people say to you is correct, especially within the context of the Word of God. People usually have motives for saying what they say and have objectives they want to achieve which, many times, they hardly reveal. Sometimes they mean more than what they say or mean the opposite of what they say. So care must be taken who you listen to and what you make of what they tell you. You must listen to what they say and what they are not saying in order to be able to make a correct decision!
In the Scripture above, King Darius listened to the presidents, governors and princes in his kingdom who flattered him to make himself equal with God. He shouldn’t have listened to them because they were only using him; their target was Daniel, and they hid this from Darius. Darius signed the law because he was blinded by flattery. Not many people rise above the flattery of men. Darius only discovered later that Daniel was their target. “Then they told the king, ‘That man Daniel, one of the captives from Judah, is paying no attention to you or your law. He still prays to his God three times a day.’ Hearing this, the king was very angry with himself for signing the law, and he tried to find a way to save Daniel. He spent the rest of the day looking for a way to get Daniel out of this predicament” (Daniel 6:13-14 New Living Translation).
Having signed the decree, the king succumbed to pressure to execute it and throw Daniel to the lions’ den. The king prayed that God would deliver Daniel. “The king said to him, ‘May your God, whom you worship continually, rescue you’” (Daniel 6:16-17 New Living Translation). An uncomfortable and a troubled king returned to his palace spending the night fasting and refusing his usual entertainment; he couldn’t sleep throughout the night. He would have saved himself this trouble if he had been more careful listening to the presidents, governors and princes in his kingdom.
How eager he was in the morning to know the fate of Daniel, and how glad he was to hear from Daniel that he was alive. “The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him because he had trusted in his God. Then the king gave orders to arrest the men who had maliciously accused Daniel. He had them thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. The lions leaped on them and tore them apart before they even hit the floor of the den” (Daniel 6:23-24 New Living Translation).
Darius wanted the accusers of Daniel to experience what they had made Daniel go through, because he knew they conspired against him out of envy. But Darius should have been more circumspect when they came up with the idea of the decree.
Don’t listen to what everybody says and act on it only for you to regret later. Thank God that God was there to thwart the plot of Daniel’s accusers and the king’s regret was minimized. In some cases, the consequences could be irreversible, so be careful so that you don’t end regretting or lamenting for a long time to come. It is not everybody talking to you who means well; many have ulterior motives or selfish reasons.
Enmity between Saul and David
Apparently the enmity between Saul and David was caused by Saul listening to some people telling him David wanted to harm him and take the throne. 1 Samuel 24:9 says, “And David said to Saul: ‘Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Indeed David seeks your harm’?” (New King James Version).
So Saul was only acting on false rumours, chasing David from town to town and from cave to cave. This was the same David who had helped him and Israel earlier to kill Goliath, thereby delivering Saul and the nation from reproach. The truth was that David had no intention of harming or killing Saul. He knew he would become king at God’s appointed time, though he had been anointed king by Samuel. There, in a cave in the wilderness of En Gedi, David had opportunity of killing Saul, and he was encouraged by his men to do so, but David refused.
The Bible says, “‘Now’s your opportunity!’ David’s men whispered to him. ‘Today is the day the LORD was talking about when he said, I will certainly put Saul into your power, to do with as you wish.’ Then David crept forward and cut off a piece of Saul’s robe” (1 Samuel 24:4 New Living Translation).
If David had listened to his men he would have killed Saul, but he didn’t act on what they said even when they tried to spiritualize it. There is no record of when God said what they claimed He said that He would put Saul into David’s power, to do with him as he wished. That probably was their own invention. David didn’t listen to them like Saul listened to those who said David wanted to harm him. His conscience even began bothering him, because he had cut Saul’s robe. He said he shouldn’t have done it, because it was a serious thing to attack the LORD’s anointed. David sharply rebuked his men not allowing them to kill Saul. He chose to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
Hear what David told Saul later after cutting his robe: “This very day you can see with your own eyes it isn’t true. For the LORD placed you at my mercy back there in the cave, and some of my men told me to kill you, but I spared you. For I said, ‘I will never harm him — he is the LORD’s anointed one.’ Look, my father, at what I have in my hand. It is a piece of your robe! I cut it off, but I didn’t kill you. This proves that I am not trying to harm you and that I have not sinned against you, even though you have been hunting for me to kill me. The LORD will decide between us. Perhaps the LORD will punish you for what you are trying to do to me, but I will never harm you” (1 Samuel 24:10-13 New Living Translation).
Saul was merely on a wild-goose chase. In verses 10, 11, 12 and 13, David reiterated the fact that he would never harm Saul and he never did. The Bible records two occasions that he could have killed Saul while the king slept, but he refused to do so.
Don’t listen to rumourmongers. Don’t listen to backbiters. Don’t listen to those who want to cause enmity between you and someone else, and are giving you unsolicited information.
Unfortunately, Saul listened to the Ziphites who came to tell him that David was hiding in the hill of Hachilah, opposite Jeshimon. So Saul went again in pursuit of David to kill him, and this was the second time David could have killed Sau,l but David again refused to listen to his men’s suggestion. “So David and Abishai came to the people by night; and there Saul lay sleeping within the camp, with his spear stuck in the ground by his head. And Abner and the people lay all around him. Then Abishai said to David, ‘God has delivered your enemy into your hand this day. Now therefore, please, let me strike him at once with the spear, right to the earth; and I will not have to strike him a second time!’ But David said to Abishai, ‘Do not destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against the LORD’s anointed, and be guiltless?’” (1 Samuel 26:7-9 New King James Version).
On this occasion, David actually prophesied the end of Saul! “David said furthermore, ‘As the LORD lives, the LORD shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish.’ The LORD forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the LORD’s anointed. But please, take now the spear and the jug of water that are by his head, and let us go” (1 Samuel 26:9-11 New King James Version). David didn’t kill him. He only took the spear and the jug of water by Saul’s head, and they got away. Nobody saw or knew it, or awoke – they were all asleep, “because a deep sleep from the LORD had fallen on them.” Saul later perished in battle in fulfillment of David’s prophecy.
Don’t listen to those who set you against others. Don’t become a victim of others’ devices. Hear what David told Saul: “If the LORD has stirred you up against me, then let him accept my offering. But if this is simply a human scheme, then may those involved be cursed by the LORD” (1 Samuel 26:19 New Living Translation). The enmity between Saul and David must have been a human scheme considering the fact that David had asked Saul in 1 Samuel 24:9 why he was listening to those who said he sought his harm. Beware of rumourmongers – they have their own motive.
What are those around you telling you?
In 1 Samuel 30, David and his men pursued, overtook and recovered all that the Amalekites who had raided and burnt Ziklag had carried off from David’s camp including the women, children and everyone else. After this victory, David demonstrated that he was not just a great warrior, but an excellent leader of men, because he was very careful about the kind of advice he took.1 Samuel 30:21-22 says, “When they reached Besor Brook and met the two hundred men who had been too tired to go with them, David greeted them joyfully. But some troublemakers among David’s men said, ‘They didn’t go with us, so they can’t have any of the plunder. Give them their wives and children, and tell them to be gone’” (New Living Translation).
That sounded like a very fair decision. But David knew that was not a good decision; he knew it would bring division into the camp. Hear what he said: “No, my brothers! Don’t be selfish with what the LORD has given us. He has kept us safe and helped us defeat the enemy. Do you think anyone will listen to you when you talk like this? We share and share alike — those who go to battle and those who guard the equipment” (verses 23-24 New Living Translation). From then on, David made this a law for Israel, which they continued to follow.
Did you see the quality of David’s decision contrary to what those who wanted to cause confusion asked him to do? Beware of the type of information or advice those around you give you. Don’t take, hook, line and sinker, what those in leadership position under you tell you. Distill the information they give you. Every leader should be aware of this; otherwise, he will be used by the leaders under him to achieve their hidden agenda.
David demonstrated a large heart, which every leader should have. He was generous not only to those following him, who some people had wanted to be denied of the booty. He went ahead to share the spoil with others, who were not even in his army. “When he arrived at Ziklag, David sent part of the plunder to the leaders of Judah, who were his friends. ‘Here is a present for you, taken from the LORD’s enemies,’ he said. The gifts were sent to the leaders of the following towns where David and his men had been: Bethel, Ramoth-negev, Jattir, Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa, Racal, the towns of the Jerahmeelites, the towns of the Kenites, Hormah, Bor-ashan, Athach, Hebron, and all the other places they had visited” (verses 26-31 New Living Translation).
What a great thing David did! But did you notice that without David knowing it, a season of his life was just about to end, because Saul would soon die. Chapter 31, the very next chapter after this incident, the last chapter of 1 Samuel, details the death of Saul. David, thereafter, began to rule as king, first over the tribe of Judah for seven years, and later over the entire nation of Israel for thirty-three years.
Don’t take just any advice
Who are you listening to? Advice is good (Proverbs 11:14; 12:15; 15:22; 19:20; 20:5, 18; 27:9). But don’t take just any counsel. Take only wise, godly counsel. “For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, and in a multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 24:6 New King James Version). Don’t despise advice – you’ll always need good advice. Proverbs 25:11 says, “Timely advice is as lovely as golden apples in a silver basket” (New Living Translation).
You must know that it is not everybody who gives good advice. “The godly give good advice, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense” (Proverbs 10:21 New Living Translation). Verse 31 says, “The godly person gives wise advice, but the tongue that deceives will be cut off” (New Living Translation). The Bible also says, “Only the wise can give good advice; fools cannot do so” (Proverbs 15:7 New Living Translation).
I’m not saying you should be self-sufficient and feel you don’t need advice. That’s one extreme; but another extreme is to think that every advice people give is right. No. It’s a fool who says he needs no advice. Proverbs 12:15 puts this clearly:“Fools think they need no advice, but the wise listen to others” (New Living Translation). Proverbs 19:20 says, “Get all the advice and instruction you can, and be wise the rest of your life” (New Living Translation).
According to Proverbs 15:22, “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many counselors bring success” (New Living Translation). But one must be sure of the quality of these counselors. You don’t take counsel from just anybody. It’s true that Proverbs 13:10b says those who take advice are wise (New Living Translation). And verse 13 of that scripture goes ahead to say, “People who despise advice will find themselves in trouble; those who respect it will succeed” (New Living Translation). But one must emphasize that it’s not just any advice that makes one succeed in life; it is actually the right advice.
You need the advice of people who’re wise by Bible standard. “The advice of the wise is like a life-giving fountain; those who accept it avoid the snares of death” (Proverbs 13:14 New Living Translation). That is the difference between taking advice of a wise person and taking the advice of a foolish person. The advice of the foolish may actually plunge one into danger and death. In fact, the advice of one wise man is better than the advice of multitude of fools. Listen to wise advice; reject foolish advice. “Plans succeed through good counsel; don’t go to war without the advice of others” (Proverbs 20:18 New Living Translation).
Hatred for the truth
Don’t be like King Zedekiah who would not listen to the truth. “Jeremiah said, ‘If I tell you the truth, you will kill me. And if I give you advice, you won’t listen to me anyway’” (Jeremiah 38:15 New Living Translation). Zedekiah failed to listen to the advice of Jeremiah that if he surrendered to Babylon, he and his family would live, and Jerusalem would not be burnt. Jeremiah said if he refused to surrender, he would not escape, and the city would be handed over to the Babylonians who would burn it to the ground.
Proverbs 23:9 says, “Don’t waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice” (New Living Translation). What was the consequence of this rejection of Jeremiah’s wise advice, which was a revelation of God’s will? He suffered a tragic loss. “King Zedekiah and his royal guard saw the Babylonians in the city gate, so they fled when the darkness of night arrived. They went out through a gate between the two walls behind the king’s garden and headed toward the Jordan Valley. But the Babylonians chased the king and caught him on the plains of Jericho. They took him to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who was at Riblah in the land of Hamath. There the king of Babylon pronounced judgment upon Zedekiah. He made Zedekiah watch as they killed his sons and all the nobles of Judah. Then he gouged out Zedekiah’s eyes, bound him in chains, and sent him away to exile in Babylon” (Jeremiah 39:4-7 New Living Translation). What a terrible thing!
Having as counselor, someone who advises you how to perfect evil desires, is a curse. The tragic story of Amnon, David’s oldest son, illustrates this point very well. A God-fearing friend would have silenced Amnon and killed his lust for his half-sister, Tamar, but Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David’s brother, was his friend. “After this Absalom the son of David had a lovely sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her. Amnon was so distressed over his sister Tamar that he became sick; for she was a virgin. And it was improper for Amnon to do anything to her. But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab the son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Now Jonadab was a very crafty man. And he said to him, ‘Why are you, the king’s son, becoming thinner day after day? Will you not tell me?’ Amnon said to him, ‘I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister’” (2 Samuel 13:1-4 New King James Version).
What was the satanic counsel of Jonadab, a very crafty person? “So Jonadab said to him, ‘Lie down on your bed and pretend to be ill. And when your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and give me food, and prepare the food in my sight, that I may see it and eat it from her hand’” (2 Samuel 13:5-6 New King James Version).
Amnon carried out the plot successfully; he raped Tamar. But he only dug his own grave, because two years later, he reaped what he had sown. “And it came to pass, after two full years, that Absalom had sheepshearers in Baal Hazor, which is near Ephraim; so Absalom invited all the king’s sons. Then Absalom came to the king and said, ‘Kindly note, your servant has sheepshearers; please, let the king and his servants go with your servant.’ But the king said to Absalom, ‘No, my son, let us not all go now, lest we be a burden to you.’ Then he urged him, but he would not go; and he blessed him. Then Absalom said, ‘If not, please let my brother Amnon go with us.’ And the king said to him, ‘Why should he go with you?’ But Absalom urged him; so he let Amnon and all the king’s sons go with him. Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, ‘Watch now, when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon!’ then kill him. Do not be afraid. Have I not commanded you? Be courageous and valiant.’ So the servants of Absalom did to Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king’s sons arose, and each one got on his mule and fled” (2 Samuel 13:23-29 New King James Version).
You didn’t determine the family you were born into, but you have the power to choose your friends. Be careful who your friends are. Amnon suffered untimely death because of the poverty of a righteous friend in his life who would have given him righteous advice and who would have scolded him for lusting after his half–sister. Jonadab was a wicked man, a callous person. See what he said to David about Amnon’s death: “And it came to pass, while they were on the way, that news came to David, saying, ‘Absalom has killed all the king’s sons, and not one of them is left!’ So the king arose and tore his garments and lay on the ground, and all his servants stood by with their clothes torn. Then Jonadab the son of Shimeah, David’s brother, answered and said, ‘Let not my lord suppose they have killed all the young men, the king’s sons, for only Amnon is dead. For by the command of Absalom this has been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar. Now therefore, let not my lord the king take the thing to his heart, to think that all the king’s sons are dead. For only Amnon is dead’” (2 Samuel 13:30-33 New King James Version).
Did you see that he mentioned nothing about the fact that he gave Amnon that evil counsel on how to rape Tamar? Relationship is not by force; it is by choice. It takes your permission for anyone to come into your life, and it takes your permission further for anyone to give you a wrong or evil counsel.
Be careful that you don’t surround yourself with people whose lives are not being guided by the Bible. “Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can goodness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the Devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16a New Living Translation). Beware whose counsel you take. Don’t take advice from sinners; don’t walk in the counsel of the ungodly (Psalm 1:1). Proverbs 12:5 says, “The plans of the godly are just; the advice of the wicked is treacherous” (New Living Translation). Verse 26 of that scripture adds, “The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray” (New Living Translation).
King Rehoboam’s error of judgment
Do you remember Rehobam? He rejected the advice of the elders, who had advised his father, Solomon. Rather, he chose to go with the advice of his fellow youths. He paid dearly for it. The kingdom was divided during his time because of his foolishness. His father was the wisest man that ever lived, but he demonstrated extreme foolishness that would have made his father shudder in his grave! “But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him. And he said to them, ‘What advice do you give? How should we answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, ‘Lighten the yoke which your father put on us’?’ Then the young men who had grown up with him spoke to him, saying, ‘Thus you should speak to this people who have spoken to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter on us’ — thus you shall say to them: ‘My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s waist! And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!’” (1 Kings 12:8-11 New King James Version).
When he spoke to the people in line with the advice of his mates, the people rebelled against him. “Now when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying: ‘What share have we in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Now, see to your own house, O David!’ So Israel departed to their tents. But Rehoboam reigned over the children of Israel who dwelt in the cities of Judah” (verses 16-17).
The utterance of Rehoboam was a needless provocation of the people. A wise person would have handled the situation differently and sustained the loyalty of the people.
You should not take just any advice; take the right advice. For Rehoboam, his problem was not lack of good and right advice, but foolishness in following a wrong advice from his fellows suffering from youthful exuberance. Be careful whose advice you follow.
Haman’s evil advisers
Haman the Agagite (his ancestors, the Amalekites, were arch-enemies of the Israelites) hated Mordecai, because he had refused to bow down before him to show him respect after King Xerxes had promoted him to be his second in command (Esther 3:1-3). Mordecai’s refusal was probably because Haman’s ancestors were enemies of God that He had vowed to blot out their memory from the surface of the earth (Deuteronomy 25:17-19; Exodus 17:16). If this was Mordecai’s reason for not bowing before Haman, Mordecai must have been a good student of history!
Though other royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honour to Haman, he refused even when it was the king’s command. Haman didn’t like this affront. Thus, he plotted the killing of all Jews throughout the kingdom of Xerxes. He got the king to make this decree, promising the king to finance the genocide. He would pay ten thousand talents of silver into the royal treasury. This decree was made, signed and dispatched – a date was fixed for the genocide.
But Esther, motivated by Mordecai, went to appear before the king after a three-day fast by the Jews, to plead the preservation of his people. Esther’s action was a risky venture, because the king had not sent for her as the custom was– this could have led to his death, but God answered their prayer.
She invited the king and Haman to a banquet two days consecutively and on the second day informed the king about Haman’s plot to destroy her and all her people. Eventually, Haman was killed.
But here is the point: Haman was hanged on the same gallows he had made for Mordecai in furtherance of his hatred for him. The advice to make the gallows was given by Haman’s wife, Zeresh, and his friends after Haman had told them that nothing would satisfy him (not even Esther’s banquet invitation) as long as he was seeing Mordecai sitting at his duty post at the king’s gate. This was sequel to the fact that as Haman returned from the banquet the first day, Mordecai, as usual, didn’t rise or show fear in his presence at the king’s gate. That was despite the genocidal decree Haman had caused to be made and dispatched throughout the kingdom of Xerxes. Haman hated Mordecai’s gut!
What was the reaction of his wife and all his friends?“Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, ‘Let a gallows be made, fifty cubits high, and in the morning suggest to the king that Mordecai be hanged on it; then go merrily with the king to the banquet’” (Esther 5:14 New King James Version). That verse ends by saying the advice pleased Haman and he made the gallows.
What Haman didn’t know was that the gallows was really not made for Mordecai, but for him! He prepared the gallows for himself without knowing. When the king was informed about the gallows, he ordered that he should be hanged on the same gallows. Ecclesiastes 10:8 says, “He who digs a pit will fall into it, and whoever breaks through a wall will be bitten by a serpent” (New King James Version).
Haman shouldn’t have listened to the bad advice he was given, particularly since he had succeeded with the genocidal decree. But he persisted until everything backfired. The same advisers told him the truth later, after he had informed them of his humiliation. He explained to them how the king had told him to get a royal robe the king had worn and a horse, and lead Mordecai on horseback through the city streets as the king’s way of honouring Mordecai. When Haman gave the suggestion at the king’s request, Haman had thought he must be the person the king was delighted with and wanted to honour. However, he was wrong. The honour was for his arch-enemy, Mordecai.
Listen to the home truth Haman’s wife and all his friends told him:“When Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him, his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, ‘If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail against him but will surely fall before him’” (Esther 6:13 New King James Version). This was a prophecy that came to pass!
It was too late for Haman to heed their warning. He must keep appointment with death shortly, because while they were still talking, the king’s eunuchs arrived to quickly take him to the banquet (the second day of the banquet), his very last on earth. Straight from the banquet, he was taken to the gallows. His evil was visited on him.
Don’t listen to those who encourage you to do evil. You may suffer the consequences alone. Maybe if his advisers had been sober and objective, the first time as they were on the second occasion when they told him the home truth, they could have given him godly advice that would have averted his premature and gruesome death.
Beware of flattery
Don’t listen to flatterers. They have ulterior motives. Don’t encourage flatterers in your life. In addition, be mature in receiving sincere commendation – receive it with humility. Don’t be like Herod.“Now Herod was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they sent a delegation to make peace with him because their cities were dependent upon Herod’s country for food. The delegates won the support of Blastus, Herod’s personal assistant, and an appointment with Herod was granted. When the day arrived, Herod put on his royal robes, sat on his throne, and made a speech to them. The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, ‘It’s the voice of a god, not of a man!’ Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died” (Acts 12:20-23 New Living Translation).
Your response to praise is a test of your character. “Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised” (Proverbs 27:21 New Living Translation).
Proverbs 26:28 says, “A lying tongue hates its victims, and flattering words cause ruin” (New Living Translation). God hates flattery, because of the negative consequences it could have on the recipients. Flattery has the capacity to corrupt the person it is targeted at. “Those who doeth wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery” (Daniel 11:32 King James Version).
Consider anyone flattering you as an enemy! He wants to ruin you. Don’t begin to act strangely because of flattery meant to massage your ego. David said, “My enemies cannot speak a truthful word. Their deepest desire is to destroy others. Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with flattery” (Psalm 5:9 New Living Translation).
Your enemies could be like these enemies of David. Flattery is one of the subtle weapons of the enemy that will cause a person to begin to act strangely in arrogance. It will cause a person to be proud. Don’t develop a big head because of what people are saying to you or about you.
A flatterer has no credibility: therefore, don’t believe him. You must know how to avoid such people, or when impossible, you should know how to deal with their flattery. Proverbs 6:24 says, “[For the commandment is a lamp] to keep thee from evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman” (King James Version).
My prayer for you is that the LORD will cut off every flattering lips that will change you to what God has not destined you to be (Psalm12:3).
Listen to God, not the serpent
Who are you listening to? Eve listened to the serpent and ate the forbidden fruit, thereby disobeying God. Adam listened to his wife, and because of just one fruit, they lost their garden – the Garden of Eden. God came to the garden after their disobedience and asked Adam, “Where are you?” Adam told God, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10 New King James Version).
God then asked him:“Who told you that you were naked?” (Verse 11 New King James Version). In other words, God was saying that Adam had listened to somebody else other than Him – God wasn’t the source of that information. Have you been listening to God or to the serpent?
Paul warned the Corinthians against listening to some false preachers or apostles: “But I fear that somehow you will be led away from your pure and simple devotion to Christ, just as Eve was deceived by the serpent. You seem to believe whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach about a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4 New Living Translation).
Who are you listening to? There’s a time to listen to your spouse, and a time not to. In Genesis 21:12, God told Abraham to listen to Sarah and do just as she had said – send away Hagar and her son. But in the case of Adam, God convicted him for heeding the voice of his wife and eating the fruit contrary to His command (Genesis 3:17).
You shouldn’t listen to your spouse if it will make you disobey God. Job’s wife told him to curse God and die, because of the trials he was going through. But Job told her that her talk was like that of foolish women (Job 2:10). Pilate’s wife warned him, “Leave that innocent man alone, because I had a terrible nightmare about him last night” (Matthew 27:19 New Living Translation). Unfortunately, Pilate chose to listen to the religious leaders; he flogged Jesus, and released him to them to crucify, though he had said he didn’t find Him guilty.
Guides on who to listen to
Below are some guides on who to listen to.
1.Listen to the Word of God. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 says, “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to right teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever they want to hear. They will reject the truth and follow strange myths” (New Living Translation). That time has actually come. Many people don’t want to listen to the Word of God, because the truth is too bitter for them. Don’t reject the truth of the Word of God. Be a hearer and doer (James 1:23). If your life, your marriage, your business or career, etc. is not going to crash, you must listen to the Word of God and do it.
Hear what Jesus said: “Anyone who listens to my teaching and obeys me is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse, because it is built on rock. But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will fall with a mighty crash” (Matthew 7:24-27 New Living Translation).
2. Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit within you. You should be led by the Holy Spirit, so listen to Him. Romans 8:14 says, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God” (New Living Translation). The early apostles listened to the Holy Spirit. “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them” (Acts 16:6-7 New King James Version).
3. Listen to words that agree with the Word of God. Any word that agrees with the Word of God is the voice of wisdom. “Listen as wisdom calls out! Hear as understanding raises her voice!” (Proverbs 8:1 New Living Translation). Consider whether what you’re being told is supported by the Bible. See if it passes the test of love. Love satisfies all of God’s requirements – it is the fulfilment of the law (Romans 13:10b). Does what you’re being told demonstrate love?“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 New Living Translation). If it is against the teachings of the Bible and fails love-test, don’t take it.
4. Listen to constructive criticism. Constructive criticism may make you bitter but better. Listen. “If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject criticism, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding” (Proverbs 15:31-32 New Living Translation). Don’t love flattery.
5. Listen to your parents – physical and spiritual. Proverbs 23:22 says, “Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old” (New King James Version). With regard to spiritual leaders, the Bible says, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17 New King James Version).
Ephesians 6:1 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (New King James Version). So also, Colossians 3:20 says, “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord” (New King James Version). However, if what your parents say violates the Word of God, don’t obey them. That presupposes that you truly know what the Word of God says. But if you’ll have to disobey your parent in order to obey the Word of God, you must never dishonour them. “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God will give you” (Exodus 20:12 New Living Translation). Deuteronomy 5:16; Matthew15:4, 19:19; Mark 7:10, 10:19; Luke 18:20; and Ephesians 6:2-3 say the same thing.
6. Don’t listen to false prophets and teachers. God warned the children of Israel not to listen to those prophesying to them falsehood (Jeremiah 27:9, 14, 16-17, 29:8). In His teaching, Jesus warned against false prophets.“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15 New King James Version). When Jesus was speaking of the signs of the times and the end of the age, He also warned that false christs and false prophets would arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect(Matthew 24:11; 24; Mark 13:22).
Peter also warned believers that there would be false teachers. “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Peter 2:1-2New King James Version).
Don’t listen to false prophets and teachers. Don’t give heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1-3).“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1 New King James Version).
7. Is your heart at peace with the suggestion, advice or proposal or you feel agitated? If you’re supposed to take a decision on what somebody is telling you, and you don’t have peace about it, though nothing appears wrong about it, take caution. Don’t allow yourself to be stampeded to act. Take time to pray about it for guidance.“And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful” (Colossians 3:15 New Living Translation).
Conclusion: Who’re you listening to? “It is pleasant to listen to wise words, but the speech of fools brings them to ruin” (Ecclesiastes 10:12 New Living Translation).Proverbs 22:17 says, “Listen to the words of the wise; apply your heart to my instruction” (New Living Translation). Don’t listen to just anybody, and don’t act on everything people tell you. “The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9 New Living Translation). Only the LORD can search all hearts, examine secret motives and give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve. There may be more to what people are telling you. Be careful!
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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