Have you ever heard the term "rope-holders?" I've never heard this phrase until this past Spring, when I was potentially going to India for six weeks, but fell through due to a concern about my academic scheduling. The purpose of this term is essentially, "Who supports you? Who's there to pray for you, meet your tangible or financial needs? Who gives you guidance and wisdom?"
"Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails. What a person desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar. The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble." Proverbs 19:20-23This verse stood out as I contemplate the people in my life who have given advice or have shared wisdom:
- My parents
- Best friends
If you really think about your own list, it can become quite extensive.
If you claim to be a follower of Jesus, guess what? You're going to be in a community of people whether you like it or not. You will have an extensive network of people from all over the map (both literally and figuratively), at least I hope. People who are older or younger, near or far, poor or wealthy, etc. At the same time, being a follower of Jesus means following Jesus. Yeah, obviously, it's easier said than done, because of this annoying thing called sin.
Here's the rub. Clearly, Solomon is making it clear that wisdom shared from others who love you is paired with God's love and care for you. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes, as long as we learn and grow from those mistakes. People who love and care about you are going to say hard things, because they want what's best for you. God is the same way! He told the people of Israel not to give in to idolatry. Why? Because idolatry is SO DESTRUCTIVE.
An old roommate is an avid rock climber. I don't know much about rock climbing, but I've seen in rock gyms or rope courses how the rope holders, or belayers, give advice as people move along the wall or rock face. They have a good view, and they aren't in it to trick people (at least I hope not). They want you to succeed! I'm sure my old roommate appreciates the view people have as he's perched on some ledge trying to figure out the best route possible (again, I don't know. I'm a fat guy, I don't climb things unless it's a tree house).
So the question is: Who are your rope-holders? Do we acknowledge their presence, or simply ignore them? Do we take heed? And when both your rope-holders and God is trying to instruct you, do you listen?