Empower Series 40: When it is more blessed to use than to give

Between 965 BC and 928 BC, he ruled the ancient kingdom of Israel, the third King of Israel, and son of one of the greatest kings that ever graced this earth. This man, named Solomon, is well acknowledged and remembered for his administrative skills, diplomacy and personal wisdom. In some ways, he came close and arguably surpassed the influence his father, David, had. Well, the offspring of the snake is not expected to be short.

Solomon left us a legacy of his wisdom in three books of the Bible – Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Songs of Solomon. Reading through Solomon’s writings, one is always moved, awed and left with a great infusion of either positive energy or thoughts. I find him a great guide for an excursion in one’s own mind. His writings make a massive impact on readers, always. The depth of his sagacity, insight and common sense is phenomenal.

The Bible relates the fascinating experience of a man from Uz, who was described as blameless and upright, God-fearing and rich, in his time, “ the greatest of all the people of the East”. When Job, for that was his name, encountered a perplexing period in his life – the death of all his children, the loss of his entire property, his body smitten with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown, only his life remaining spared – a magnitude of losses that caused him to exclaim that naked he had come into the world and naked shall he leave it, his wife imploring, urging, challenging and provoking him to “curse God and die”, he lamented and cursed the day he was born – a truly broken and overwhelmed man.

Three of his friends – Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar – hearing his plight, came together to comfort and mourn with him. After sitting in silence with Job for seven days and seven nights, in his grief, Eliphaz in his first statement and in response to Job’s lamentation replied him thus, in Job chapter four, from verse three to five:

Surely you have instructed many, and you have strengthened weak hands. Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have strengthened the feeble knees; but now it comes upon you, and you are weary; It touches you and you are troubled.

Words are cheap, but they gain greater worth when they first minister to the speaker of the same. Job, in this situation, was like the physician who couldn’t heal himself.

Back to King Solomon. The wise king devoted the entire chapter five of the book of Proverbs warning against the lure, seduction and temptation of the adulterous and immoral woman, exhorting that it is blessed to keep to and be content with “the wife of your youth”, drinking from one’s own cistern. Splendid counsel, worthy of our attention and implementation.

However, what did Solomon himself do? Did he keep his own instructions?

He took exactly the opposite bend, concluding his shopping bout in the feminine world with his basket full of seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. In first Kings chapter eleven and from verse one to four, Scripture disclosed that in doing this, Solomon violated and utterly flouted the command not to intermarry with the Moabites, Ammorites, Edomites and other heathen tribes. He acquired wives from all these tribes. In the end, his heart was turned away after other gods. The persons jointly responsible for this aberration? His numerous wives.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive”, the good Book advocates. When it comes to advice, I humbly submit that it is more blessed to avail yourself of it, utilise it, apply it yourself, before you give it. Put it to use first before suggesting it to someone else.

It is so straightforward and painless to dole out advice. When your car gets stuck in the mud, even children are able and willing to advise you on how to get out of it! Everyone can save a sunken ship.

Be less generous with your advice: live it instead. It is a bad situation when someone with a coughing fit attempts to sell a cough mixture. Afterall, action speaks far louder than words, and a living example is the best advice you can ever give. Only examples have children.

Quotes

“Advice is seldom welcome, and those who want it the most always like it the least.” Philip Dormer Stanhope

“In terms of religion and matrimony, I never give any advice, because I will not have anybody’s torments in this world or the next laid to my charge.” Philip Dormer Stanhope

“Preachers say, Do as I say, not as I do.” John Selden

“Deeds, not words speak me.” John Fletcher

“The bird’s chick watches its mother fly before it can fly (we learn by example).” Akan proverb, Ghana

“There is no lack of good advice, only those who listen to advice are very few.” Swahili proverb, Tanzania

“A wise man knows how to behave.” Mamprusi proverb, Ghana

“Wise men don’t need advice. Fools won’t take it.” Benjamin Franklin

“The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.” Oscar Wilde

“Many receive advice, only the wise profit from it.” Publilius Syrus

“Nobody can give you better advice than yourself.” Marcus Tillius Cicero

“If your strength is small, don’t carry heavy burdens. If your words are worthless, don’t give advice.” Chinese proverb

“Never trust the advice of a man in difficulties.” Aesop

“The people sensible enough to give good advice are usually sensible to give none.” Eden Phillpotts

“He that gives good advice, build with one hand; he that gives good counsel and example, builds with both; but he that gives good admonition and bad example, builds with one hand and pulls down with the other.” Francis Bacon Sr.

“It is easy when we are in prosperity to give advice to the afflicted.” Aeschylus

“If stock market experts were so expert, they would be buying stock, not selling advice.” Norman R. Augustine

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