It might be the right season. It might be the right reason. But it may be the wrong place...
Late one night, a neighbor in Kodiak, Alaska, noticed two bow hunters driving along the street “stalking” a bear that had been busy foraging in trash cans. The street was clearly within city limits, and the police warned the bowmen to un-notch their arrows or face fines for hunting in a populated area. Schools, houses, pedestrians, pets (the list goes on), were in close proximity to an arrow’s lethal flight path.
Giving advice is much like hunting bears. It may seem to be the right time to give advice. We may have the experience to back up our words. But choosing the right place to gently offer counsel is as important as what we say—if we expect a friend or loved one to accept our words.
Not the right places to exhort may include: the foyer of the church after service; among crying babies in the nursery; in the grocery store checkout line; at the dinner table; at an unsuspecting friend’s house after their cheerful invitation…
Giving a serious admonition must be carefully planned, and there should be time enough allotted for a lengthy discussion, if needed. Above all, it’s prudent to thoroughly study God’s advice on the subject (in the Bible), before we attempt to give our own.
I Thes. 5:14-15
Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
Lord Jesus, instruct me in the right way to offer advice to others. Give me wisdom in knowing when and where to counsel those who need it.