“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” John 10:27
My friends love me but sometimes they’re wrong. I love my friends but sometimes I’m wrong. The same goes for family and other people, too. Even when we’re totally well meaning, we can be totally wrong when we give advice to others even when we’re doing our best to give godly counsel to others. None of us is perfect in hearing God’s voice and in giving Christ-centered counsel to others, and we can find ourselves in serious danger if we rely solely on the voice of those who love Christ instead of making our number one priority hearing and obeying God’s voice Himself who speaks through His Spirit ALWAYS in line with His Word.
I was excited one day to hear a friend emphatically decide to spend a weekend blocking out the voices of loving and well meaning friends so she could focus solely on hearing the voice of the Lord. She had been seeking the Lord for months about a certain major decision, and she wanted to make sure she wasn’t swayed by the voice of others and that the decision she would ultimately make would be in accordance with God’s will. Was the godly counsel offered by her friends valuable? Absolutely. Was all of it in line with God’s will? Possibly. Or possibly not. How would she know? She needed time alone with Him and His Word seeking His voice exclusively who by His Spirit she believed would speak to her.
Some of the most important decisions I’ve made in my life were not advised nor supported by well-meaning friends. Going out on the road full-time for my ministry work, staying in a hotel for ministry for what turned out to be about 11 months, packing up my bags and heading out with 5 handicapped and senior rescued dogs to do streets ministry in New York City, each time I made such a decision, I got mixed counsel and support. The Lord in each case confirmed what I believed to be His will, and the results have been remarkable. Another time, several pastors got together at a church and one of them told me they had concluded that I should not share personally in my devotional writing and not use the word “I” like I was. Though they had a point at the time in that the nature of my writing needed some changes as I had much growing in the Lord to do, their overall conclusion and counsel had I followed it would have set me completely off the course of the Lord.
Seeking and receiving and even following godly counsel from friends is exceedingly important if, when, and as the Lord leads us to do so, but ultimately the most important voice we seek and hear and obey is the voice of the Lord God almighty.
Sometimes we rely too much on the voices of others, and even on the voice of our flesh, or the voice of this world, and, when we’re not careful, the voice of the devil, when in fact on a daily basis, continually, the voice above all voices, the voice that belongs to the Lord, His is the voice belonging to the Good Shepherd whose sheep need to learn to listen for and follow – forever.
At the end of the day, and at the end of our lives, when our lives on this earth are over, the one whom we will stand before and have to give an account of our lives to will not be all our friends who gave us well meaning counsel, or any other people for that matter, but we will stand before the Lord whose voice His sheep are privileged to be able to hear so that we can receive the wisdom and directions and leading we need to forever follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you are Christ’s follower filled with His Spirit, you have the ability to hear His voice. May you seek Him continually, and hear Him, and follow Him in humble love and blessed obedience. Should we stop seeking the godly counsel of Christ’s followers? Absolutely not! We are to walk in fellowship with the Lord and our fellow Christ followers. But we need to be careful to always, always, and always place first and foremost as our priority seeking and hearing and confirming God’s voice.