Call me a rebel, but whenever I hear the words, “You know what you should do…”I can feel my defensive guard going up. My fight or flight mechanism goes into overdrive and it’s hard to politely listen to whatever wisdom might come next.
Is it just me, or do you bristle a bit when people give you free advice on how to - do your job, raise your kids, run your household, order your love life, or any number of personal dealings. It doesn’t matter - they’ve got the answer for you.
It’s not that I’m against seeking advice. I need advice. I want advice. But I want to ask for it first, from the person or people I feel are most qualified to give it. That’s why I rankle so much when those who barely know me presume to provide answers for my situation. They bestow advice as if it were a gift for which I should be grateful.
If we spent more time in conversation, I might discover their advice is exactly what I need and I would be very grateful for it. And I might immediately put it into practice. But when it’s pushed on me cold turkey, with an air of condescension, it’s more offensive than inviting. I agree with the proverb that says: “The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry, and a wise friend’s timely reprimand is like a gold ring slipped on your finger” (Proverbs 25:11-12, Message).
The key words are “right word,” “right time,” “custom made,” “friend.” These speak of a relationship between the advisor and the one receiving the advice. In this case, even if the advice wasn’t sought after, it would be welcome, or at least considered, knowing the giver spoke from love.
I wonder, sometimes, if that’s the way unbelievers feel when believers try to tell them about Jesus. Does it come across as unwanted advice on how they should live their life and what changes they need to make? Is there a relationship, or does it come out of nowhere from a virtual stranger? Has the unbeliever expressed a need, or is the information given in an “I’m better than you” attitude? Do we even give them a chance to ask before we give the answers?
Jesus calls His followers to live our lives in such a way that people would want to know - what we think, what we would do in their situation, what keeps us going when times are tough, where we get our hope, how we manage to forgive when we’re wronged. We need to be ready with answers.
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet. 3:15, NIV). If we are gentle in our responses – not angry or defensive - respectful to others, and humbly put Christ ahead of our own ego, people might be more willing to approach us with questions. These are the conversations we dream of; this is the hope we long to share with the world around us.
I want live His peace, His JOY, His love, His hope,and for others to ask where I got it. I want to be ready to answer in a manner worthy of my Lord and Savior, giving Him all the glory.