I’ll always remember a conversation held around our dining room table. A personal friend and leader in our church—a Bible college graduate, nonetheless—told us that he needed space from his wife of 28 years. “I’m going to move out,” he said. “I need to clear my head. I’m struggling with my faith right now. In fact, I don’t even know if God really exists.”
He didn’t tell us the whole story, but we knew it already—he’d been having a well-hidden affair for the past five years.
I whispered a prayer for wisdom under my breath, and then I said, “Be honest. You know God exists, but you’re looking for a way to justify your behavior. You’re having an affair, and you know that’s sin. But if you can convince yourself that God doesn’t exist, then you can somehow excuse what you’re doing.
“Stop what you’re doing. Acknowledge it for what it is—sin. Seek marriage counseling. Do what you know to be right.”
Sadly, my words fell on deaf ears. The man had already made up his mind. He eventually divorced his wife and married the other woman.
We all like to hear things that make us feel good, right? But how do we respond when someone speaks truth, and that truth is the last thing we want to hear because it interferes with our desire to do our own thing? In reality, that’s when we need it most!
Take a peek at how King Ahab’s life demonstrated what I’m talking about. He’d proposed partnership with King Jehoshaphat of Judah to do battle. Jehoshaphat agreed but added, “First let’s find out what the LORD says.” So Ahab called for 400 prophets and asked their advice. “Should we go to battle or not?” he said. The prophets all replied, “Yes, go right ahead! The Lord will give the king victory.” That’s the answer he wanted to hear. (1 Kings 22:1-28)
But Jehoshaphat of Judah wasn’t convinced. “Is there not also a prophet of the LORD here? We should ask him the same questions.”
Ahab gave a classic response. “There is one more man who could consult the LORD for us, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but trouble for me.”
Ahab would make an interesting study in human psychology. He was willing to take advice that tickled his ears even though it ultimately led to his defeat and death. Anyone with insight could have told him that he’d fare better by listening to the counsel of someone who spoke truth. He may not have wanted to hear the words spoken by the prophet of the Lord, but listening to them instead of the stuff that made him feel good could have spared him a lot of grief.
I can understand Ahab’s attitude because I’ve struggled with it, too. Especially as a teenager. People looking out for my best warned me about dating unbelievers but I didn’t want to listen to the truth. Instead, I sought affirmation for those relationships from peers who saw nothing wrong with them.
Truth may not always be what we want to hear, but truth is what we need. Let’s keep our hearts open to it, and live by it. Therein lies the key to demonstrating a life that honors God and accomplishes His purposes for us.
Question: When have you received counsel that wasn’t what you wanted to hear but you knew it was based in truth? How did you respond?