We had a large tree next to our church removed last week.
I’ve been pastor of this congregation long enough to remember when the building was being constructed and the decision we made at the time about this particular tree. We had tried to keep as many trees on our property as possible, not wanting to be one of those owners who clear-cuts the land before making use of it. But this one small oak was fairly close to the porch leading into our sanctuary.
If I recall correctly, our builder suggested we might want to take it down. He thought it would probably cause problems years down the road. But we decided to let it stay.
The builder was right. I don’t think any of us regret the choice we made at the time. We have enjoyed that tree and its shade for over 20 years now.
But the builder had a better vision of how big that tree would eventually get and the issues it would raise. It started with frequently clogged gutters, but in recent years has led to limbs rubbing against the roof, protruding toward the steeple and obstructing the view of the front of the building.
Sometimes other people can see things we can’t in certain situations. The Bible says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise” (Proverbs 12:15). Other people’s ideas may not always be better than our own, but we shouldn’t easily dismiss or disregard the advice of others.
Most of us have a tendency to think we know best, especially when it comes to how we live our lives. But sometimes we’re not as smart as we think. We can be blinded by our own desires and biases. And other people may have experienced similar circumstances from which they’ve gained wisdom. “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14).
While the Bible recommends the idea of considering counsel from other people, how much more should we take into account the counsel of God. He can really see the big picture. He knows how the choice we make today will eventually affect us and others. He can see exactly how big that matter is going to grow and how it will affect our lives next month, 10 years from now and even how it might affect our children and future generations.
Yet, how quickly some of us dismiss what God says as being irrelevant and outdated. Or we think for some reason we’re the exception to the general rule God has given. “Well, maybe that’s true for most people, but my situation is different.”
How many problems have sprung up in our lives because we failed to listen to the wise counsel of our Creator? We knew what the Bible said about that issue, but we thought we knew better. We felt the quiet nudging of the Holy Spirit, but we brushed it off, and went ahead and did what we wanted to do.
Sooner or later, we reaped the consequences of our actions. It may have taken years for the problems to fully blossom — and the consequences may not be fully evident this side of eternity. But now, or one day in the future, we will look back and wish we had listened to God and done things His way.
What is God saying to you today? Listen to His all-wise counsel. It will save you from a lot of headaches down the road.
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.