A little over a decade ago I wrote Dismount your donkey at the summit. That post was about a Tao Meditation that argues all paths lead to God. I argued that they don’t, but I didn’t observe then what I did today. Iron sharpens iron. I thought wisdom I achieved was all my work under the providence of God. Yet before I accepted the challenge to discover the error in that Tao Meditation, someone had to make the case for it.

Today I received the following bit of wisdom.

The other day when I was running I had the epiphany that, aside from my wife, you are my best friend. If a friend is someone who loves you enough to patiently challenge your own assumptions so that you grow in wisdom, then you have been a good one. That does not mean that I always ultimately agree with you. I don’t. But you have made me research and meditate on and explore the most important issues in our lives and come to new understandings that I did not have before. In particular, you have challenged me to seek a more direct and mature relationship with the God that I have believed in my whole life. For this, I am very grateful my friend and brother. (from here)

When we debate (looks a lot like arguing), tsalmon , the author of that bit of wisdom above, generally advocates the virtue of love. Whereas, I suggest love is important, but the proper exercise of the virtue of love requires wisdom. Which of us is right? Lord knows.

The same day tsalmon wrote that comment this post, IRON SHARPENS IRON, appeared on the The Prince William-Manassas Family Alliance‘s website. IRON SHARPENS IRON is about a newspaper column by Everett Piper, Choosing the right path in contentious times. After reading tsalmon’s note, I focused upon another aspect of Piper’s column.

Maybe choosing to follow that “One Person”; the one who has shown us the way, the one who knows the right path, and the one who exemplifies the right ideas, is the only sure way for us to avoid getting lost. (from here)

What does Piper mean by “getting lost”? Well, Christians consider the Lost those who don’t know God, those who have not been reborn in Jesus Christ.

Is there “One Person”? Yes. That is Jesus Christ, but He gives each of us a role in salvation. We all need each other as counselors and examples. We all need the fellowship of other human beings.

Consider the Book of Proverbs. Some form of the word counselor occurs 17 times in the Book of Proverbs (NASB) (see Proverbs (17)). The first instance is in the figure above. As that proverb says, those who understand the need seek wise seek counsel.

But how do we bear the burden of wise counsel, hearing what we find disagreeable. That is with love. It is not enough to counsel another. We must also be their friend and listen.

Proverbs 10:12 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

12 Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all transgressions.

Imagine if metal could scream with pain. When iron sharpens iron, we each learn the hurt of being told we are wrong. With each acquisition of wisdom we lose a little of our pride. Then it requires the love of a friend to soothe the pain. Without love, we cannot become humble enough to learn any wisdom.

24 thoughts on “LOVE, WISDOM, AND COUNSEL

  1. Like I said in an earlier comment, I’ve lately been reading a book by Fr. Richard Rohr about the wisdom that God gives to us if we find Him, in the second half of life, for most of us because of the maturity we gained in the first, and the desire we express in the second journey home to God.

    I’ve always wondered why some people think that the truth of their path must be diminished by any truth in another’s faith, as if an infinite God were only subject to our binary, zero sum choices. This is what Rohr writes about this with regard to heaven and hell:

    “When you don’t know who you are (by this Rohr essentially means that you belong to God), you push all enlightenment off into a possible future reward and punishment system, within which hardly anyone wins. Only the true self knows that heaven is now and that it’s loss is hell—nowadays. The false self makes religion into the old ‘evacuation plan for the next world,’ as my friend Brian McLaren puts it.

    “Life is all about practicing for heaven. We practice by choosing Union now freely—ahead of time—and now. Heaven is a state of union both here and later. As now, so it will be then. No one is in heaven unless he or she wants to be, and all are in heaven as soon as they live in union. Everyone is in heaven when he or she has plenty of room for communion and no need for exclusion. The more room you have to include, the bigger your heaven will be.

    “Perhaps this is what Jesus means by there being ‘many rooms in my Father’s house (John 14:2). If you go to heaven alone wrapped in your private worthiness, it is by definition, NOT heaven. The more you exclude, the more hellish and lonely your existence is. How could anyone enjoy the ‘perfect happiness’ of any heaven if she knew her loved ones were not there, or were being tortured for all eternity? It would be impossible. Remember our Christian prayer, ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’ As now, so then; as here, so there. We will get exactly what we want and ask for. You can’t beat that.”

    And this:

    “Ken Wilber described the later stages of life well when when he said that ‘the classic spiritual journey always begins elitist and ends egalitarian. Always!’”

    Sorry about the long quote, but I thought it relevant. I don’t think it is my place to decide for God who gets into heaven, and whether their path is inferior to mine. The good news in this Tom is that, as much as we argue about the process, we both have an equal shot.

    1. @tsalmon

      Late to bed here. Busy day. So I will address only this observation.

      I’ve always wondered why some people think that the truth of their path must be diminished by any truth in another’s faith, as if an infinite God were only subject to our binary, zero sum choices.

      We have freedom of religion because recognize the Truth is the Truth regardless of our beliefs or choices.

      As Christians we each have a duty to spread the Gospel, not to make choices for others. That is why I believe in limited government. I don’t want to interfere with the choices of others. I am suppose to let God be God, not try to be God or make a God out of the government.

      Jesus said He is the Way, to go through the narrow gate. Salvation is about Him. So we take people to the cross and help them to understand the Bible. What happens after that? Well, we are suppose to pray.

      1. Tom,

        Thanks. I don’t have any absolute opinions about any of that, except to say that you are probably about as right and true in everything you said as you can be.

        My own problem with truth is that when I am most certain that I know it all, I probably don’t. I have come to believe that having faith isn’t to know everything that is true, but to know that I know almost nothing, and yet you somehow, humbly, joyfully, gratefully, I still just know. Maybe it’s one of those paradoxes that so many sages talk in that we have to unknow most things we think we know so that we empty our egos of ourselves enough to fill our souls up with God. The older I get the more that this is my experience anyway.

        Jesus is the way, but it would be presumptuous for me to say that someone else’s way isn’t also Jesus. Many of the ways I’ve studied look very much the same. Perhaps all paths do not lead to God, but perhaps all the many paths that actually do lead to God ARE Jesus, only by another name for the same wisdom, the same Holy Spirit, the same grace, the same lover’s longing for the same God. If you ever take the time to read the poetry of Rumi, you’ll feel that love and longing, you’ll taste that joy and you’ll know that he was as close to knowing God as most of us ever hope to be. Sometimes I think we may assume too much when we narrow God to so little. Maybe we also make ourselves a little smaller and narrower in the trade. If we cant get past our grown up need for certainty, we’ll never become that child again, the child who appreciated the Mystery. (See Mathew 18:3 and Luke 16:8).

        1. @tsalmon

          We don’t judge other people. We don’t read minds. Nonetheless, we must judge each other’s actions.

          Matthew 7:15-20 New International Version (NIV)
          True and False Prophets

          15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

          I have run into people who say they don’t believe in God who seem to live decent lives. Will they go to Heaven? Who am I to say? Nevertheless, Jesus said He is the Way. He calls upon us to spread His Gospel. So, I try to do that.

          I am not anyone’s judge. God did not appoint any of us for that task.

  2. Sweet post, Tom! I like to have a diverse assortment of friends, many I don’t always agree with. We tend to learn the most from them. I also like the verse, “do not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some….” Fellowship is really important and “iron sharpens iron,” as it says in the Bible, and as you have pointed out.

    I think wisdom and love are inseparable, the problem being there are many “love imposters” out there that can easily deceive us, especially in the modern world where we tend to “love” everything from sunsets to coffee. It can take a whole lot of wisdom to try sort it all out, to understand what other centered, sacrificial love is all about. You really can’t have wisdom without love, though.

    1. @ insanitybytes22

      “Love imposters”. That’s a good description!

      We like to think we have been given much, that our Lord has been especially providential to us. We have our technology and riches, but do we have love? Do we even know how to love, or do have so many “love imposters” among us that we are confused about what it is to love?

      Even that song, “What The World Needs Now Is Love” (, a decent enough prayer, does not capture the nature of love. The world desperately needs love, but why?

      As 1 Corinthians 13 implies, with our Lord’s help, love is that indispensable something we each must choose to have and grow within. Unless we make the choice to care about others, we cannot accept salvation. We cannot even know there is a God. We can only be prideful, insane little beasts, so full of ourselves we can savage each other.

      1. I can’t seem to “like” things people write on Tom’s website lately, but I did want to somehow affirm the comments that IB, SW and Tom hwve written. You all seem to be such lovely people.

          1. I was afraid that weekend in the Catskills was all for naught.

            Actually.. I was wondering why the like thing wasn’t working.

        1. I can’t use the “like” button either, for some reason.
          Wish I could, and I agree with you. 🙂
          Very excellent post, Citizen Tom!

  3. “When we debate (looks a lot like arguing), tsalmon , the author of that bit of wisdom above, generally advocates the virtue of love. Whereas, I suggest love is important, but the proper exercise of the virtue of love requires wisdom. Which of us is right? Lord knows.”

    Of course I’m right.😉

  4. Tom.

    Your mention of a counselor brought to my mind this proverb and Gils explanation

    Counsel in a man’s mind is as deep waters, and a man of discernment draws it up. (Proverb 20:5)


    but a man of understanding will draw it out; he will find ways and means to discover the secret designs of wicked men, whether against church or state; and, by asking proper questions, an understanding man will get out useful things from men of knowledge, the most reserved: some men must be pumped, and a good deal of pains must be taken with them, to get out anything of them, as in getting water out of a deep well, and which when got is very good; and so is that wisdom and knowledge which is gotten by an inquisitive man from another of superior knowledge, but not very diffusive of it.

    In My Opinion

    You have a special gift to inspire thoughtful inspiration to discern various issues in need of better understanding.

    While some relate to wicked plots, most relate to inspiring your followers to discover the spiritual aspects of wisdom and love in life-based on the Bible teachings of Jesus Christ.

    In other words, your followers’ value you as the wise counselor that King Solomon advised us to draw up wise discernment from the deep waters on various issues.

    We may or may not always agree, but at least your counsel helps us discern some rather deep-water issues in need of both wise and friendly advice.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    1. @scatterwisdom

      Special gift? Thank you! I will have to pray I don’t I don’t let that compliment go to my head. We do well to remember the words of a better writer than either of us.

      The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer. — Henry David Thoreau

      Our Lord gives each of us something to do and the means for doing it. Am I using His gift for His purpose? I hope so, and I pray you are doing the same. Because of your patience and your kindness, I have little doubt you are serving our Lord’s purposes.

      1. Tom,

        My comment was not meant to be a. compliment.

        Rather a frank truthful acessment of my opinion probably shared by many of your blog follewers.

        Sometimes the truth hurts and sometimes the truth just states facts.

        Regards and goodwill blogging

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