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"You Just Wouldn't Understand" - Really?

Have you ever rejected someone else's advice by saying, "You just wouldn't understand”? By saying this, you implied that your would-be counselor was incapable of relating to your situation or even accurately perceiving what your need was. Perhaps you thought he couldn't help you because he was not enough like you. Maybe he had never experienced your problem before, so you believed that he could not offer a good solution. You may have been so convinced that this other person was unable to sympathize with you that you didn't even give him a chance.

If you have ever thought these things about someone who sought to advise you, then you may have refused to hear the very answer that you needed. When you set unreasonable qualifications for those who counsel you, you isolate yourself from those who may be able to help you. Requiring your counselors to have all traits in common with you will narrow the field of candidates down to one, namely, you. Are you able to counsel yourself? Be careful, for that is the mark of a fool. The Scripture says, "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel” (Prov. 12:15).

How then can you choose good counselors, and what should be their qualifications? If you are wise, then you will seek wise advice, just as Proverbs 1:5 says, "A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.” Who then is a wise man? Notice Proverbs 9:10 – "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” No counselor can be counted as wise unless he has a genuine reverence for God. This eliminates worldly and secular persons as candidates for giving good advice. Indeed, Psalm 1:1 says, "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” Therefore, you should readily receive advice that comes from counselors who are genuinely wise and avoid the counsel of those who have no regard for the Lord.

There is no doubt that experience helps when counseling another, but it is not impossible to give good advice without firsthand knowledge. The Bible declares that we can understand many things without direct experience. In Ephesians 3:4, Paul said of his own writings, "By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ.” None of us have received the direct revelations of Christ as Paul had (Gal. 1:12), but he says that we can understand his insight just the same. In 1Corinthians 2:6-13, we learn that the Spirit of God has revealed "things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him.” Even without experiencing these things, God has given us an understanding of them by His word. Therefore, we see that experience is not a prerequisite for understanding, but rather it is knowledge of God's word that is required. Indeed, the psalmist declared to God, "From Your precepts I get understanding” (Ps. 119:104).

For example, consider the subject of marriage. Certainly, there is much insight to be gained by experience, and we would expect that a husband or wife with twenty-five or more years of experience should give good advice on marriage. However, knowledge of God's word trumps experience as a qualification for marriage counselors. It is far better to take advice from an unmarried person who knows the Scriptures than to be counseled by a person who has been married for thirty years and is a certified marriage counselor but knows nothing of the Bible. In fact, the foremost passage of the Bible on marriage is probably Ephesians 5:22-33, and it was penned by Paul, an unmarried man. Paul's wisdom in the area of marriage did not come from experience but from the Lord, who made marriage (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-6). Likewise, we need counselors whose primary source of knowledge is the word of God.

So then, before dismissing someone's advice by saying, "You just wouldn't understand,” stop and ask yourself a few questions. Is this person really incapable of understanding your problems, or are you simply unwilling to hear his counsel? Are you really so special that this person cannot understand you? Does this person have the foremost qualification of a counselor, which is the wisdom of God's word? If so, then should you not listen to his advice? If you won't listen to the advice of a godly counselor, then how will you ever find help? Perhaps the honest answers to these questions will give you a second opinion, a new perspective, and an opportunity to get real help for your problems.

Stacey E. Durham



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