Good news vs. good advice

Inevitably, when I sit around the table with other gals for the purpose of discipleship, we voice our struggles to one another.  We tell each other what is going on in our lives, especially the things we need help with.  As I listen to another’s problem or heartache, it is so easy to give advice.

Advice sounds like this.  “I understand how you feel.  I went through something similar and this is how I handled it…”  Or… “Hmmm, that’s tough.  Have you tried…?”  Advice comes from our experiences, the lessons we’ve learned, the things we wish we would have known.  Advice can be helpful.

Advice can also be exhausting.  I may not have enough to draw from in my reservoir of experience to help another person with their problem.  What then?  Also advice, even good advice, is so… iffy.  Good advice has no real guarantee of working.

News is different.  News is based on fact, something that has already happened and that cannot be undone.  The gospel is news… really good news.  Jesus’ death on our behalf and the amazing, resulting benefits are facts.  When we speak the truths of the gospel to each other, we are giving good news not good advice.

This idea is transforming how I view discipleship.  I’m certainly not the first to think about the difference between good news and good advice.  Tim Keller has helped the idea take flight, and you can read a transcription of his message describing news vs. advice at Resurgence.

There is also a great article by Jeff Medders over at GCD that offers a helpful grid to think through when you are trying to bring the gospel to the table in a conversation.  His article fleshes out what giving good news can sound like, practically.  Jeff writes, “Before cooking up a slab of good advice, put the good news on the grill and watch the aroma of Christ fill the room.”  Take a look at the whole article for ideas on how to speak good news in a discipleship conversation.

So, in discipleship, when your knee jerk reaction is to dig deep into your experience and pull out good advice, rethink it.  Dig deep into the gospel and pull out some really good news instead.

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