God speaks through people as there is safety in a multitude of counsellors.
I have often heard the Lord speak to me through the counsel of others; and more times than I can count, the Lord has used a close friend or my wife to speak something that God wanted to say to me. God wants us to pay attention to godly people who have consistently listened to Him and obeyed Him. These wise counsellors have become familiar with God’s voice and can give us godly insights that will aid us in making proper decisions.
Proverbs discloses the benefits of listening to godly counsellors for advice, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14 NKJV). God often uses the counsel of other believers to clarify ambiguous areas or to give us the assurance that we are truly hearing from Him. These people speak “a word in due season” to help us to discern God’s voice. Sometimes they can give us a word of advice that confirms what we already feel in our own spirit.
I think the reason God uses others to help us hear His voice is to remind us that we are not self-sufficient. God placed us on earth to interact with others and give up our self-centredness and independence so we can become interdependent. We need each other.
The Bible says it is a privilege and a joy to be able to hear from God and pass that guidance on to another. “A man finds joy in giving an apt reply — and how good is a timely word” (Proverbs 15:23) I was talking recently to a friend in Canada, and he asked me for advice on decisions he was making for his future. I gave him the guidance I felt the Lord was giving me for him. He mentioned it was the same advice a friend from the Philippines gave him earlier in the week. In this case, the same word was confirmed by two people, and my friend joyfully received it as a word from God.
Paul, the apostle, believed in the importance of getting a confirmation of two or three people. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses” (2 Corinthians 13:1). If God has spoken something to you, God will usually confirm it through another person.
The Scriptures tell us there is power in agreement. “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:19-20). God often speaks to us through agreement with others.
Sometimes people tell me, “God spoke to me, and I am not accountable to anyone, just God.” People who rarely ask for or take advice are usually dealing with pride in their lives. Pride can keep us from accepting counsel from others.
Our culture may tell us to stand on our own two feet because we don’t need anyone to help us make decisions. A proud person thinks seeking advice is a sign of weakness; however, as a community of believers in Jesus, we were designed for interdependence. God speaks through other believers to benefit every member in the body of Christ.
A common way God speaks to us is through one of His servants who is preaching under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Biblical preachers believe God is speaking through His Word and His Spirit and through them, as they are faithful to the task of teaching and preaching God’s Word.
I have often heard God speak to my spirit while listening to a preacher or teacher expounding God’s Word, and it became alive to me at the moment. Preachers and teachers help us to hear what God is saying. They are part of that “multitude of counsellors.”
Romans 10:14 shows Paul’s concern for those who cannot call on the name of the Lord because no one has told them of Him: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”
Without someone preaching or sharing the Good News, the lost have less chance of hearing God’s voice. Although salvation is available to everyone who calls on Christ, if they have not heard, how can they call on Him? Someone has to tell them, and no one will be told unless believers share, teachers teach, and preachers preach.
Throughout the Bible, from the prophets to the apostles, preaching is given a central place. Godly messengers proclaimed God’s message publicly by saying, “This is what God says…” Through preaching, God reveals Himself. We can hear God by listening to what He has to say through godly preachers and teachers.
I have found the best policy is to seek God and let Him choose how and through whom He wants to speak to us. If God chooses to speak to us through others, we should humbly receive from those God chooses to use. Proverbs tells us that our plans may fail if we refuse to take counsel from others. “Plans fail for lock of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:2).
The purpose of a “multitude of counsellors” or “many advisors” is to receive a variety of wisdom. Obviously, we do not listen to just any person who gives us advice. When listening to the godly counsel of others, it is sometimes difficult to know if you have heard from God correctly or if others have heard accurately. The Bible urges us to “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1). If another believers claims to speak a word from God for you, test it. Ask God to confirm to you if it is really from Him.
If you have any doubts, go to your pastor or other proven Christian leader. These trusted leaders have travelled down the road before you, and they are examples of godly living. You can trust them for advice. Ask them to pray about it with you.
The Bible says that we should not just take counsel from anyone, but we should know the lives of those from whom we receive wisdom and direction, “…know those who labour among you — your leaders who are over you in the Lord and those who warn and kindly reprove and exhort you” (1 Thessalonians 5:12 AMP)
Godly counsellors are people who practice what they preach and have a track record of making good decisions. A godly counsellor will be able to hear God’s voice and confirm what God has been speaking to you. Godly counsellors are those who love the Lord. You can trust them because they bear the good spiritual fruit of living close to Jesus (Matthew 7:15-20). Additionally, the benchmark of godly counsellors is that they will be concerned about what happens after they give you advice because they care about you and want to see you succeed.
We should take the advice of others only when we also have our own peace about it after having prayed about it. A godly counsellor’s goal is to give words of advice that confirm what you already feel in your own spirit, always leaving you to make the final decision on hearing God’s voice and what He is telling you to do.