Advice is like snow - the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into the mind. (Samuel Taylor Coleridge) We all have received advice at one time or another, embraced it, and seen the difference in our lives as a result of that sage council. There are probably a few other times we have received 'advice' that we didn't really grasp hold of simply because of the way it was presented to us! As a novice in investing, I appreciated the advice of a more knowledgeable friend when I was seeking ways to make my retirement fund grow. As a novice nurse, I looked to my 'elders' in nursing to help me develop the little tips and tricks they don't teach in nursing curriculum so as to no miss important facts about the patient and to improve the level of trust the physicians placed in me in caring for their patients. We all can grow from advice, but if we treat the Word of God as mere 'advice' we can either accept or reject, we will somehow be missing the point - it is truth and truth is what we should base ALL of our decisions squarely upon!
For whatever God says to us is full of living power: it is sharper than the sharpest dagger, cutting swift and deep into our innermost thoughts and desires with all their parts, exposing us for what we really are. (Hebrews 4:12 TLB)
Notice clearly in our passage today - it is God speaking TO US. It isn't just mere advice - it is directed conversation. It is conversation 'full of living power'. The Word of God has a way of taking truth into the depths of our hearts and thoughts - so that we gain 'exposure'. In wound care, one of the first things they teach is that wounds don't heal if they aren't cleaned out well. That might mean we have to 'cut back' to healthy tissue once again. If you have every cut into your finger or hand, you know that 'flap' of skin created can sort of 'dry up' as healing begins to occur, but it doesn't 'belong' there any longer. Why? The vital supply of nutrients it needed has been cut off. It is damaged tissue and needs to be sloughed or cut away. God isn't going to be able to help the healthy stuff in us grow by giving us 'advice' alone - we need truth - because truth is what cuts away the 'dead stuff' in our lives!
If you'd allow me this morning to 'meddle' a little, may I ask what 'dead tissue' you have been trying to preserve in your life? The area where there has been damage because of repeated sin, or maybe some of those hurts we've held onto way too long - these might just be the 'dead tissue' areas of our lives where the Word needs to get into us and do some 'debridement' of that dead stuff. If you recall that snag of skin drying up around that cut on your hand, what purpose did it serve as that wound was healing? If it was like some of mine, it got in the way of healing! Why? It was a point of 'snagging' that opened healing tissue again and again! I had to snip it away in order to expose the new tissue underneath. Yes, that tissue was a little 'sensitive' because it was not calloused by years and years of wear and tear, but it was fresh, vibrant, and growing! This is what each of us hopes for when truth comes into our lives - freshness, vibrancy, and continued growth.
Apart from truth, all the other stuff we receive into our lives is mere advice. God isn't an 'advice' giver - he is a truth-giver. In giving truth, do you know what he is actually giving? Himself - for he is all truth and when he brings truth into our lives, he is leaving behind little bits and pieces of himself in those places he touches. Pretty neat, huh? Oftentimes, we need truth, but we are seeking advice. Maybe we'd do well to ask for truth instead! Just sayin!