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Eat the Meat and Spit Out the Bones

I became a Christian just before my 20th birthday. My brother-in-law, Don, took it upon himself to disciple me, teaching me the ways of the Lord and how to be a Christian man. He actually had me come and live with him and my sister for a year, spending that time training me in the truths of God’s Word. I am forever indebted to him for that, as I do not know if I would be a Christian today if not for the time and effort he invested in me.

As much as I hate to admit it, I tended to be a “know-it-all” back then. It was hard to tell me anything, probably because my pride got in the way. But Don, very early on, taught me a very important scripture – probably the first scripture I committed to memory. It’s found in Proverbs 12:15 and it says, “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.”

Now, today I view that verse as pretty basic Christianity, but back then that was mind-blowing advice! Listening to advice – once so difficult – now is so very important to me. Often God will speak to me through other people – through family members, through friends, through a pastor’s sermon, and – of course – through the Word of God. I need to keep in mind Proverbs 12:15 so that I do not miss something the Lord is trying to teach me.

Moses, as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, was educated in the best schools of Egypt. I am sure he had the finest tutors and excelled in many ways. Yet, when God called him to bring the Israelites out of Egypt and into the promised land, He did not leave Moses to his own wisdom or knowledge. He provided people to guide him through this process, giving him advice to help him in his decision making. One notable person was Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro. Jethro saw the strain on Moses from trying to do everything himself. Not only was he leading the Israelites through an unknown land, but he was the one person that everyone would go to when they had a need. If you have ever headed up a large project, you know what that feels like. Imagine a project involving two million people!

Jethro saw how overwhelmed Moses had become, listening to the disputes of the people and trying to give each one advice. It was too much for one person to handle. So Jethro suggested to Moses that he appoint judges underneath him to hear the trivial cases while Moses would listen to the more difficult ones. Certainly, Moses’ pride could have gotten in the way. “What? I can handle this!” Or perhaps, “Don’t you think I am capable of leading these people?” But thank God, for Moses’ sake, that pride didn’t. Exodus 18:24 says, “Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.”

Certainly, we will not always get great advice from people. Most of the time, I believe people are trying to be helpful when they give us advice. But sometimes it may be their pride speaking to us. So what do we do? As Don would say, we “eat the meat and spit out the bones.” In other words, it is up to us to discern which advice is from God and which advice is not. But if we truly live by Proverbs 12:15, that should not be difficult for us. In John 16:13, Jesus promised that “the Spirit of Truth… will guide you into all the truth.” And again in Isaiah 30:21, God promises that “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”

We can rely on the Holy Spirit to help us make right decisions with the options before us. We just need to be open to counsel and not let our pride get in the way. Keep your ears open, listen to godly advice, then “eat the meat and spit out the bones.” If you do this, the Holy Spirit will lead you down the right path every time.

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