Close the gap

For thousands of years there have been gaps between generations. The younger ones always assume that the older ones have never gone through what they’re going through. They’re all alone in their experiences with no one to guide them through it. But if every generation feels that way, wouldn’t it stand to reason that they actually know exactly how you feel?

My younger friends poke fun at me all the time because most of my social circle is made up of women at least twice my age. While one can’t help but see age when you’re looking at wrinkles and white hair, I see more. I see myself surrounded by people who have lived. They’ve experienced. They’ve learned so much more than I have and possibly ever will. Each person has a different life experience, but we can learn from all of them. When I’m sitting in a room full of old ladies and spinning wheels, I’m in a room full of centuries of lessons learned. I’d be a fool not to take advantage of them.

A long time ago, there was a young king who failed to see the wisdom in listening to the counsel of his elders.

Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his life time. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked.

They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.”

But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him.

1 Kings 12:6-8 (NIV)

Rehoboam, a young king, foolishly rejected the counsel of the men who had advised his father, Solomon. He chose not to follow the words of the men who had worked closest to the wisest man to ever live. Instead, he chose to take the advice of his buddies—probably as excited as Rehoboam to flex this newfound power.

If you are of a younger generation, do not scorn the advice of your elders. They may not have lived through the exact thing you are living through right now, but they have lived. Some things don’t have to be experienced directly for wisdom to be gained. Spend time with, listen to, and ask questions of those who have lived longer than you.

If you are of an older generation, don’t write off the kids and young punks. If you don’t teach them, who will? It is the responsibility of every generation to teach and train the ones to follow. The simple fact that you have lived means that you have something to give. So give it. Keep communication open between you and those younger than you. You may even learn something yourself.

Read: 1 Kings 12-13, Luke 24:36-53

Everyone else was doing it

Who never used the excuse that “everyone else was doing it” when you were a kid? It was a pretty simple go-to reason for why you did something your parents explicitly told you not to to. But did it ever work? If you tried it, you may have received “if they all went and jumped off a bridge, would you jump off, too?” as a response. Of course you wouldn’t. You’re smarter than that. Yet you did do something for which your only reason for doing it was because everyone else was.

John warns against following evil influence. The influence he’s talking about has far greater repercussions than getting your bicycle taken away or being grounded from the internet for a week. It’s your eternal soul at stake.

Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.

3 John 1:11 (NLT)

The evil influence John is talking about here is that a man, Diotrephes, is going around telling the church that they don’t need to welcome or care for travelling ministers—a teaching that is completely contrary to the example Jesus set. But we can take this word of advice and apply it to far more than just travelling ministers. It is advice for life.

Influence comes at us from all directions—all day, every day. It’s unavoidable. It comes from Christians as well as unbelievers. It is up to us as individuals to determine how we let it affect us. In this passage, John gives us a pretty simple answer—know God. When we know and love God, good deeds will be the visible byproduct. If we don’t know God, evil deeds will be the byproduct. And we cannot assume that everyone who calls himself a Christian knows God (John’s warning here was against someone in the church).

It’s all so confusing! How am I supposed to know what’s what?

It’s a good thing that God doesn’t expect us to know it all. And it’s a good thing that He does know it all. And it’s an even better thing that He gave us His Holy Spirit to guide us in that regard. The closer we are to God, the more in tune we will be with His Spirit and can allow ourselves to be influenced by Him rather than those around us. And the stronger God’s influence is in our lives, the more of a good influence we will be on those around us.

If you need an influence to follow, Jesus is your prime example. Get to know him. Don’t do something just because everyone else is doing it (even Christians), do it because Jesus did it.

Daily Bible reading: Daniel 11-12, 3 John 1

Sound Advice

I have trouble letting go of things. If I know I can get the job done, I’d rather run myself ragged than let someone else do it for me and risk not having it done my way.

Now, I’m not Moses, but Moses was in a similar situation. Israel had escaped Egypt and were now wandering the desert complaining. (Do you ever catch yourself whining even when you’re in the middle of a miraculous situation?) Moses, being the one in communication with God had been set up as a judge of sorts over the entire nation. People would line up for days in order to have him settle a dispute. Then Jethro comes along. Moses’ father-in-law shares some sound advice.

“Now let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing him their questions to be decided. You should tell them God’s decisions, teach them God’s laws and instructions, and show them how to conduct their lives. But find some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as judges over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten.”

Exodus 18:19-21 (NLT)

Maybe you’re like me and are the type to take everything on yourself. Or maybe you’re someone who fears God and hates bribes. Either way, you’re needed.

God needs the people who can do it all, but He also needs people who can take a share and do some. Just because you may not be able to lead one thousand doesn’t mean you can’t oversee ten. And just because you oversee ten doesn’t mean you’re any less important than the person looking over all of it.

God didn’t put all these orders in place for the sake of making work for Himself. They’re in place because structure is necessary in order to do a good work. No one person can do it all on their own. Some people are ready to lead large groups, while others are able to lead small. There truly is a place for everyone and, the sooner we are able to find our own place, the better we are all able to grow together.

Daily Bible reading: Exodus 16-18, Matthew 19:16-30

Truth

People are generally willing to give advice. Good advice. Bad advice. It doesn’t matter. We all want to get our two cents in whenever we can.

As much as we are willing to give advice, we also take it. But who do we take it from? I’ve known those who will keep asking for advice until someone tells them what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. For the sake of affirmation of their own opinion, they cast away the good advice that would have, eventually, proven to be more beneficial.

And the king said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah the son of Imla, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.”

1 Kings 22:8 (ESV)

As it turns out Micaiah, for all his gloom and doom toward King Ahab, was the right one. All four hundred of the other prophets brought to speak over the situation had been filled with a lying spirit speaking what the king wanted to hear rather than what he needed to hear.

Micaiah was strong enough to speak truth even though he knew it wasn’t what the king wanted to hear. In the end, the king followed the advice of the lying spirits and lost his life as was previously prophesied. Micaiah could walk away with a clear conscience having offered the true word of the Lord.

When you offer advice, do you offer truth? In love, of course. When truth is offered in the spirit of love, it is easier to receive.

When you accept advice, do you accept truth? Sometimes the truth isn’t easy to take. A lot of times truth isn’t easy to take.

What would you rather have: pretty words and death or truth and life?

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 21-22; John 3:1-21