This week I’m in North Carolina spending time with family, so blogging will take a backseat until next week. However, something has been weighing on my heart the last few days so I thought I’d hop on here to write some brief thoughts about it. Maybe my words will hit some of you where you are at.
One of the most difficult lessons I have learned over the years is that you can’t protect people from themselves. You can offer input and wisdom, you can pray, but beyond those two options there is not much to prevent someone from making a mistake that they have resolved to make.
For anyone who has watched a loved one choose a destructive path, you know how heart-breaking it is. It’s like watching a train wreck. If you have shared Biblical wisdom and it is not heeded, you can only sit and observe the inevitable consequences of their choices.
Destruction is, after all, the natural result of ignoring God’s Word. Scripture is very clear about the fruits of rebellion. Although God does not punish us for disobedience or willful blindness (that punishment was received by Christ on the cross), He has placed us in a world with real repercussions for our actions. To spurn the created order is to do so at our own peril.
We know this, but it doesn’t take away the pain of seeing it happen. When you watch a loved one choose this path, it is devastating.
Of the areas in which I have witnessed this formula for disaster, marriage has to be one of the most common. Whenever a friend or loved one comes to me or Ike seeking counsel in preparation for marriage, or support as they struggle through marriage, we direct them to the hard but crucial principles of Scripture. God’s teachings require much of us but they also promise the goodness of obedience, so that is where we always turn.
Unfortunately, many people find Scriptural directives too hard or inconvenient to swallow. They choose their own way instead. And then we must look on in sadness as they suffer the brokenness of their path.
The Bible warns about the danger of this individualistic path. Proverbs 18:1 explains, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” Proverbs 12:15 adds, “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.”
Of course good advice is going to be Biblical advice. A godly friend will merely direct you back to the truths of God. Even so, God gave us community as both a form of accountability for our actions, and as a resource for truth. Perhaps your friends have the experience to interpret Scripture in a way you might not have guessed. Or perhaps they simply draw attention to a passage you had previously missed. Regardless of their role, they function as the embodied work of Christ in the world, intervening in your life and helping you to live faithfully, especially when it is hard.
That is why it is so important to be in intentional community NOW before you face one of those hard decisions. Surround yourself with believers who know what is going on in your life and can speak truth into it. You will need them.
And if you are one of those people who currently needs godly counsel for a decision or life change, please PLEASE heed the wisdom of your community. Proverbs is full of warnings such as “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” (14:12) When your community gives you direction, take it seriously, especially when it comes to marriage. With so many marriages failing, we cannot afford to wing it. We need the support of a community to live out our covenant promises in marriage. To ignore this resource is both reckless and foolish.
I say that not as someone who becomes bitter when my advice is ignored, but as someone who deeply loves my friends and family and wants to see them spared the pain of heartache and personal catastrophe. As one Christian to another, I implore you to seek out the kind of community that will help you to live well. And on those days when you don’t like the advice they provide or it seems too hard, pray for courage and strength to heed it anyway. The path of the righteous is always the better way.