When a Church Is Filled with Judges, Busybodies, and Advice-Givers


A great verse for today:

“…they will learn to be lazy and will spend their time gossiping from house to house, meddling in other people’s business and talking about things they shouldn’t.”
—1 Timothy 5:13b (NLT)

If you stand up in the bathroom at church, you’ve probably been to a men’s prayer meeting. Men share prayer requests and look for other men to call down God’s help for their situation.

Well, that’s the way it’s supposed to work. In actuality, when men share prayer requests in an hour-long prayer meeting, they give each other advice for whatever the problems might be and spend a grand total of 57½ seconds praying about those requests—no matter how many requests were made in total.

The ladies, on the other hand, suffer from the same problem, except in a far worse form. Amplified YammeringMen tend to keep their mouths shut unless asked for advice. Women, though, sometimes go barging into other people’s lives with their “godly wisdom,” whether it is asked for or not. To their credit, women do a better job with prayer requests, bumping up the men’s 57½ seconds of total prayer time for requests to at least a minute and a half.  😉

Life is hard enough as it is, but to have judges, busybodies, and advice-givers deluging us with their man-made wisdom isn’t helping anyone. If anything, all it accomplishes is either to upset recipients or lead them down dead-end paths that eventually have those recipients questioning God’s direction  (when they should have been questioning the advice-giver’s qualifications to speak).

I believe God offers us the best way:

1. If we are prone to be an advice giver, whether prompted or not, we should stop. No one needs our man-made advice. Undoubtedly, wisdom that comes from the minds of humans will fail. God says it will, so that pretty much settles it. In short, we’re not as smart as we think we are.

2. Chances are, we don’t know enough of what is happening behind closed doors to say anything about another person’s situation. Only God knows what a person truly needs. Instead, just listen and withhold judgment and advice (then consider #5 below).

3. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” applies to judgments and advice. Would we want to hear what we are about to share? Probably not. Then best keep quiet, especially if our advice is unsolicited.

4. In contrast to failed human wisdom, God provides perfect solutions through the spiritual gifts of word of knowledge and word of wisdom. My experience is that they are rare, but they are the only type of “advice” that is truly godly. If we are not given such a word, then we should keep still. If we are, we should not be afraid to share it gently and with tact. And also remember: Chances are, you and I were not the ones chosen to deliver that message. If we were, then we need to be humble about it.

5. Most people don’t want our judgments and advice. What they do want is us and our time. It is one thing to tell someone they need to do such and such. It is far different to actually help them do it. (Personally, I have no respect for people who tell others what they should be doing yet will not lift a hand to help them do it.) If we are not willing to help see our advice through, then we should not be giving it. All the advice in the world is nothing when compared to being there in person for someone else. Talk is cheap; walk is priceless.

In the end, talk less, listen more, and walk beside people who need help. That is the way of the Christian.

When Everything Good Is Bad for You


When my allergist asked me, “Do you have a family history of glaucoma,” I had to laugh.

No, my eyes are fine. Nor has anyone in my family had eye troubles. Still, I could guess what this was all about—and I was right.

I walk around most days feeling like someone shoved a pair of tube socks up my nostrils. Thus the necessity of nasal steroids to provide me some semblance of nasal clarity. Otherwise, I breathe through my mouth and look like a slack-jawed yokel. (Which I very well might be, come to think of it. Maybe all slack-jawed yokels simply suffer from chronic rhinitis.)

But my Dad worked in the pharmaceutical business, so I have this built-in mental resistance to doctors who load up their patients with this drug and that. Plus, it sure seems to me that the drugs we used in the past cost less and did a better job than these newfangled sugar pills with boatloads of side effects and contraindications. So when the doctor told me they’re finding that nasal sterioid may give you a nasty case of glaucoma, the headshaking began.

Going that prescription route a few years ago may have been a good idea, but now it’s a good idea gone wrong. I can see the lawsuits now. Back to the sinus irrigation, I guess.

Reach a certain age and you get well acquainted with the cycles of what’s good and what’s bad. And the subsequent flip-flops. And the lawsuits. You start thinking that maybe the old wives who told their tales weren’t off in the first place.

My Mom used to believe that dark chocolate was good for you, and now it seems she was right. Eggs, once a dietary pariah, are hot again. Doctors now say that people who regularly jog or run ruin their bodies over time. Vitamins may actually shorten your lifespan, since they oust the place of their more healthy, natural counterparts found in food.

Oy vey, what’s a guy to think?

I’ve heard a lot of advice in my life. Churches dispense more advice than they dispense tasteless wafers for communion. The Godblogdom teems with spiritual advice. Can’t visit a blog and not get some life-altering tidbit offered by this semi-pro guru or that. And yes, the irony that I may be guilty of that sin hasn’t escaped yours truly.

It seems to me, though, that much of the last couple generations’ supposedly good advice, the new wisdom of the ages, doesn’t work in the long run. All truth may not indeed be God’s truth.

I remember just beforeI got married, Christian advisor after Christian advisor told me that to be a good Christian husband, to have the kind of marriage that would withstand any trial, I needed to tell my wife everything. Don’t hold anything back. Be totally open with her and be blessed for it.

I shared that with a group of Christian men recently and they laughed themselves silly. “You fool,” they howled, “you actually fell for that?”

Stupid me. Seemed like good, godly advice at the time. Now I know better.

Looking back, I’ve received a tractor trailer full of supposedly sage Christian wisdom that time has ultimately revealed as the playing pieces in Cow Bingo. That's one massive heap of smoking bovine excrementI could probably even go through my library of classic Christian books, open any one at random, and find some piece of bogus advice.

But enough about me or my past tendencies toward naifdom.

What about you? What seemingly innocuous piece of supposedly Christian advice have you received in years past that amounted to so much manure? I’ve got to believe there’s not a person reading this who hasn’t seen time annihilate at least one sacred cow. Many of those vaunted “truths” start with “If you just….”

Care to share? The comment section awaits.