Jeremiah 23:16 “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.”
The quote from Jeremiah 23:16 is the perfect way to start this segment entitled “well-meaning people.” Many times, we have people that are close to us, have good intentions toward us and want the best for us but give us advice based on a vision from their own heart and not from God. It’s very for hard at times for parents, or other well-meaning mentors and influencers in our lives to look past their experiences, definitions of success and failure and personal biases when they advise us. Their advice can be offered to us in love and with the utmost degree of sincerity, yet be sincerely off-target.
One of the primary reasons that the advice of well-meaning people can be so off-target is that “God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts,” Isaiah 55:8-9. 1 Corinthians 1:25 (NIV) says “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom.” In other words, God doesn’t always lay out paths that make sense. Man, in his own wisdom is not always going to be able to figure out what God’s plan is. Consider that God took Moses through the Red Sea to deliverance. He took Joseph through slavery and prison to his final destination at the right hand of Pharoah as the second most powerful man in Egypt.
Again, the underlying premise is that only God knows those exact surroundings, the exact opportunities, training, etc. that are needed for me to grow up into my best me. Everyone else in my life has a limited view. 1 Corinthians 13:12 puts it this way: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” The people closest to us see us but imperfectly. Even in the best scenario, they are likely only to be discerning a portion of the plan and purpose of God for our lives. The exchange between Peter and Jesus that occurs after Jesus shares that he must die on the cross is the perfect example of well-meaning people “prophesying out of their hearts”:
Matthew 16:21-23 (NIV) “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Peter is one of Jesus’ closest disciples. They have been through so much together. I’m sure Peter loved Jesus. Therefore, it is only natural to have a reaction like Peter’s when someone you love says that they are willingly going to give themselves over to a brutal death. That’s exactly the point. It was a “natural” reaction with no similarity whatsoever to the plan and purpose for Jesus’ life on the earth.
We know from Jesus’ words in the Garden of Gethsemane that death on the cross wasn’t an easy thing for Jesus to embrace. In the midst of struggling with his future death and wanting to submit perfectly to the Father’s will, enters Peter. Peter comes in with words, advice, direction contrary to the will of God for Jesus’ life. The words are so contrary, that Jesus treats Peter’s words like evil, as from the devil himself. Wow. So, it is possible that well-meaning people, speaking out of their own hearts can be so off-target as to utter words consistent with the devil’s plan for our lives. All it takes for advice to be consistent with the devil’s plan for our lives is for it to be contrary to God’s plan for our lives, or anything that would take us significantly off-course.
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