Joan Reynolds

Real Faith, Real Life & Real Joy

Caution….Well Meaning Christians!


In the past few weeks, as God struggled with me and I with Him to really hear His directions for my life, I was caught by one recurring theme. How often well meaning Christian friends seem to play ‘devil’s advocate’ in my life.

Not that they were meaning to, exactly. I found that if I shared what God was doing in my life, or the crossroads at which  I found myself, several of them responded quickly from their own flesh, and very often added advice that was really harder to process than if it had come from a non believer. I wanted to give it weight, as I knew they loved the Lord, but God warned me to be careful of listening and taking that advice to heart.

I used to say, when I was much younger and still hoping to find the guy who would fill my heart and complete my family, that I would almost prefer to  have my heart broken by someone who didn’t know the Lord, than by someone I had met at a Christian function. It was much harder to get over being hurt in the name of Jesus, than by someone who didn’t even profess to know him.

I think that is still difficult. I now have mostly Christian friends, but I have to be very cautious in whom I confide when I am trying to hear God’s voice clearly. I have only a handful who have the discernment not to offer advice from their flesh, about how they think I should proceed or what they think I should do in a given situation. I am very blessed to have those few and I thank God for them daily.

I get excited about what God is doing in my life and often rush to share with sometimes total abandon with the first person I talk to after something I think is amazingly the Lord. Often the person I am confiding in does not have enough experience in the things of the Lord to know how that could seem even vaguely exciting to me. This is where God is training me in discernment. He has given me a large dose of that often for others who ask me for counsel, but lately He is really working with me on better protecting myself and the gifts, challenges and passions He has placed within me.

He  may also use complete strangers, speakers, books, sometimes even a tiny text message and I am sure a Tweet on occasion to confirm His directions to us. He can also use non believers in ways that speak to you loud and clear and focus you like a laser beam right to the path He wants you to see. What I have found is that sometimes friends may respond completely from their own fear of losing where I am in their life, or because they wouldn’t want to do what God is asking me to do, so they caution me against it, slightly framed as though it were a word from God. It seems to have a little more conviction that way, and don’t we all want to keep things from changing when they suit us; it’s really hard to resist that temptation, isn’t it? It happens to all of us, so we have to examine our motives, don’t we?

Words that seem to counter what we feel God is saying are harder to hear from well meaning friends, but as my ear gets more finely tuned to God’s voice, I hear can hear them almost before they are said. I am getting very private about the people to whom I turn for counsel. If they are not grounded in a community of worship, a Bible study and fellowship, a daily practice of meeting with God, but even more important: If I don’t hear and see them turning to God for direction in their own life, but merely asking Him to bless the direction they want to go, I know they are not where I should turn, and instead I keep his communications with  with me private and guard them in my heart. He will tell me with whom I am safe to share them.

Again, more listening. God made me a talker and a sharer, incredibly vulnerable with my openness to others. Deep listening and keeping things to myself have come with much difficulty for me. More counsel is not necessarily better counsel. I have had to learn that many Christians(who wouldn’t think of eating without first asking His blessing on the meal) will not pray, even silently, before they speak to another Christian, and may do great harm or even cause a setback, from the direction that God is leading someone else. I believe we are part of an immense trust when we speak for God into someone else’s life. We are meant to be encouragers and to lift one another up. Unless we hear God definitively, and we have been asked for our wise counsel, sometimes we also just need to listen and then continue to ask God in our private time with Him to direct that friend or loved one.

We need to use our words carefully, and  His even more prayerfully, if we are tempted to quote scripture, as we do not want to cause one of his chosen ones to stumble from the path on which He has put them. It is not our path, so we need not be afraid. If He asks them to do something, He will provide the means and the way. He will not allow them to come to harm. There is a much higher price they will pay in their own walk with Him if they follow our advice instead of His. Just a word for all of us to remember, we never want to be used as advocates of the devil in our well meaning for Christ.

The people we love and care about most deeply may be the ones where this will be most difficult. Let us continue to hold them up in prayer first, last and always, as God truly knows best. And for those of us He may have asked to go into a difficult or unknown place, breaking God’s heart by refusing to go where He has asked us to go would be the deepest hurt of all.

I think this could all have been said much more succinctly, but as I am working it out as I write, I will  probably come back and make more sense of this. God is always acting as proof reader and nudging me to make changes, so usually I publish right away and make changes for the first one to five hours after. If I didn’t publish right away, I would probably think of a million reasons never to publish it at all. Once done, it just gets modified a bit. Kind of the way God works with us in everything . It all boils down to the best thing any Christian can offer anyone else is the extension of God’s grace….in any circumstances, in any place or any time. That is the gift that keeps on giving, that is accepted by everyone, like the perfect credit card! No one ever returns it, they just pass it on. How cool is that? Probably food for another blog thought…this one is way too long. They are getting like book chapters, hmmmmm, God’s next?

One Comment to

“Caution….Well Meaning Christians!”

  1. Avatar January 31st, 2011 at 11:11 am Sherri Robinson Says:

    Hey Joan, I can relate totally. Seems the only people who are supportive of me are my kids which I can always depend on for support and honesty. I just don’t want to drive them crazy…lol. As far as Christian friends, other than you, I don’t find I have much support for whats in my heart. They do have a tendency to speak before they think and thus hurting or setting me on a wrong advice path. I think you are on a great path and will are sensitive and know instinctively when it is time to change. God gives us that little thing inside that guides us. For you and I even more. He will never ask us to go or do anything we would not be unwilling to do cause he knows us and will match us with the best possible path that brings us happiness and service to him. Remember how we became friends and the book The Celestine Prophesy? Keep up the good work. You are doing great. Remember you can always find a kind listening ear in me, my friend. I love ya! I miss ya!

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