Monday, February 20, 2017

The Best Advice

“Should he reason with unprofitable talk? or with speeches wherewith he can do no good?” - Job 15:3

Talk, no matter how well intentioned, can reach a stage of uselessness—as far as we are concerned, that is. But most of us, for one reason or another, cannot (or will not) acknowledge this. Because of the real or perceived legitimacy of the argument, and/or because of our own personal attachment, we talk on.

This verse in Job points out what should be obvious to us, were we not so invested in the person to whom we are speaking and the benevolence of our motives: There is only so much to be said to some people; and it is possible to move beyond compassionate love and courage of conviction, to possessiveness and a play for vindication. After awhile, we find ourselves saying the same things, just louder and more caustically. As women, it is easy to fall into this trap with husbands and older children. We may question their judgments or choices, but until they are willing to question themselves, our constant nagging is nothing more than “unprofitable talk” that does neither them nor us any good.

As you get older, you realize you must choose your battles carefully. We only have so much energy and breath to expend, and none of us want to end up in the ignominious position of someone who is just beating the air (1 Cor. 9:26). Worthy battles are always worth fighting, even to the last breath; but sometimes, we need to change the field of battle. There comes a time when we must put on our armor and face the real enemy in the real battle, on the plains of prayer (Eph. 6:11-18).

The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right. ------ Hannah Whitall Smith

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