This is a relatively simple topic. The Scripture is clear we are to desire advice and correction, because “he who listens to reproof acquires understanding” (Prov 15:32).
Yet, we don’t live in such a way which would show an appreciation for the advice of others. The Scripture tells us to actively “[l]isten to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days” (Prov 1:20). Apparently, our flesh does not desire wisdom, but rather folly. We need to remind ourselves this the next time we do not want to accept advice, or if we honestly disagree with it, do not appreciate it.
While “a scoffer…will hate you” when you correct him, “[r]eprove a wise man and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser. Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning” (Prov 9:8-9). We have to see ourselves as either the scoffer or the wise man. Who do you want to be?
Sometimes it is hard to listen to advice simply because we are so convinced that we are right. This is common to man for “[t]he way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel” (Prov 12:15).
In the marital context, this is particularly exacerbated by the fact that Satan sows doubts in the minds of the couple that one’s spouse has her or his best interest at heart. So, instead of looking forward to what the spouse has to say, even if it is negative, immediately the defensive barriers come up.
The perfect way to deal with this is to take literally where the Scripture says, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Eph 5:22) and “husbands…show her honor” (1 Peter 3:7). If the husband’s intention was to literally show his wife honor as an exalted heir of everlasting life, and the wife’s intention to treat her husband with the respect that she would treat Jesus if He literally came walking through your door, then hearing their advice or correction would be extremely easy. Our problem is often not our spouses, or their opinions, but our heart conditions not adequately being conformed tot he model set out in the Scripture.
There is another practical way to go about it. It is a common experience to all that it is the hardest to take correction from someone younger than yourself, difficult from someone your same age, and increasingly easy the older the person is. God, understanding our natures, in His Scripture compels older women for this reason to teach the younger.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored (Titus 2:3-5).
Older women are admonished to live respectably so as to set a good example for younger women. However, they must do more than simply live in such a way, but they must also be active in “teaching what is good.” What are they teaching?
The things the older women teach are implicitly the subjects wives ought to be seeking advice:
- How to love their husbands appropriately
- How to love their children appropriately
- How to be sensible
- How to be pure
- How best to work at home
- How to be kind
- How to be more submissive to their husbands
Now seriously consider this for a moment, wives. When was the last time you looked for advice on how to be more kind, how to do something better at home then you were doing before, and how to be more submissive to your husband? Honestly, it seems rather natural for women not to want to do any of these things, let alone seek advice about how to do so. This is why the Scripture admonishes women, “A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness” (1 Tim 2:11). If it came easy the Bible would not have to say it.
It might be for this reason that there is no such parallel passage for men in the Bible. It is not that men should not seek advice any more than women should not avoid looking upon a man with lust. Rather, it appears that God is aware that this is more of a challenge for women than for men.
It is interesting to note that the Scripture takes for granted that women are to seek instruction from their husbands. For example, in 1 Cor 14:34-35 it states, “The women are to keep silent in the churches…If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home.” So, a woman must be open to learning from her husband, just as much as she must be open to learning from older women.
While all of this is true of men, it is especially true of women. We all have something to gain from carefully seeking advice from the right sources and everything to lose when we don’t.