I’ve been back in the US the past month, and among the highlights has been getting to go to bookstores. Call me old fashioned, but I still prefer a paper book to an e-book (even though I do most of my reading on my tablet these days), and the selection of English books in Nicaragua tends to be slim. As I’ve pursued book stores the past two weeks I’ve noticed that the shelves are chocked full of self-help books, presumably aimed squarely at the 40% of Americans who make New Years resolutions each year. You can find advice on everything from weight loss, to exercise, to dating, keys to a better marriage, to how to live like a movie star, without actually being one. This type of book seems to dominate display racks and best seller lists. Given the sheer volume of self-help titles, it should be of little surprise that the “advice” industry rakes in over $11 BILLION each year. It’s therefore quite clear that many of us are looking for advice and guidance in life, and are indeed willing to pay mightily for it. But, are we really looking in the right places?
Much of the Book of Acts focuses on the attempts by the Apostles to evangelize cities throughout the Roman Empire. In Acts 17 Paul is evangelizing the city of Berea, where the people look to two different sources for advice:
Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds. Acts 17:11-13
One group in Berea chose to follow the advice of “experts” from Thessalonica, who passionately proclaimed that the Apostles were nothing more than charlatans and heretics. Another group, however, chose to check Paul’s claims with the scriptures. Finding his teachings on Jesus to be inline with the promised Messiah, they joyfully accepted the Good News of Jesus.
There will never be a shortage of sources trying to give us advice: authors, TV and radio personalities, public figures, friends, social media, advertisements and more. At the end of the day we need to remember that there is only one source that is perfect, infallible, and True, and that is the Bible. Instead of chasing after all of these other sources we need to always turn to God’s Word and the guidance it gives us. Instead of running around seeking advice from the world, I urge us all to make the Bible our primary source of guidance and advice. The world almost inevitably leads us astray, while God’s guidance leads towards His purpose and eternal life.