When you have an important decision to make where do you seek advice? Over our lives we gather together a wealth of valuable input, from family, friends, mentors and, increasingly today, even internet advice. It is often seen as a sign of maturity when we make well informed life decisions. Indeed, the scriptures say:
Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others… Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success. (Proverbs 12:15, 15:22)
I wonder if the writer of these pieces of wisdom had Ikea furniture building instructions in mind or following sat nav directions. Despite the truth of the wisdom of following good advice, over time we learn that the advice of others can be limited. King Solomon, known for his great wisdom, recognised that pursuing earthly wisdom is like chasing the wind (Ecc 1:17), it is elusive and never fully satisfies. We can learn from Solomon that true wisdom is less about what we do and more about who we are. More specifically it is about who we are becoming. Even more specifically, it is about who we are becoming because of the person that dwells within us. Jesus tells us that it is the Holy Spirit who ‘will guide you into all truth’ (v13). But what exactly does it mean to be guided into the truth?
We ought to seek the Spirit’s counsel as we walk with the Spirit and listen to others. Interestingly, it isn’t about following a set of instructions or directions to the destination that we want to go it. Instead, the Spirit of Truth leads us to Jesus, speaking to us the heart of Jesus who said:
He [the Holy Spirit] will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard… He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.’ (v13-14)
The Spirit of Truth helps us live our lives in faith, trusting God in where we are heading. The Spirit of Truth helps us to discard the heavy weight of doing everything ourselves and instead taking on Jesus’ yoke, and learning from him. Jesus tells us that his yoke is easy, and his burden is light, if we trust in him.
We will know if we are being led in the right direction by our fruits. The fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) – does not grow from the law but promises to grow in the lives of every Christian. The fruit is not a target, but rather a sign of the Spirit working in our lives, all their flavours in different measures working together and strengthening each other.
We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honour and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. (Colossians 1:9-10)
Dunfermline West Baptist Church
Chalmers Street, Dunfermline