On today's menu we have 'guidance'. More subtle than commands, God often gives us principles or examples to point us in the right direction without the imperative verb. Then He tends to leave the choice of how to proceed to the reader.
There are three main places to find 'guidance'-type writing: Proverbs, parables and personal stories.
In Proverbs 15:1, it reads "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." No overt command, just an observation, a principle. It's up to you to choose a soft answer or a harsh word.
In Proverbs 17:28, we find, "Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace." (But I'm blogging anyway.)
Just from these two verses, we get the principle that what we say, when we say it and the tone matters. Not hard, fast commands, but a general principle
Jesus told dozens of stories and made quick comparisons to make a point. Most of the time, He let the story stand, but occasionally, He explained the idea behind the story. Whole books and even seminary courses are devoted to analyzing the parables, and I don't want to go into too much detail here. When reading them, it's usually best to look for one main point and not try to make symbols out of every element.
Some quick examples:
- The wise man who built his house on a rock- Make sure your life is on a sure foundation.
- The lost sheep, coin and prodigal – God rejoices when someone repents and is restored.
- The sower- The gospel won't be received by everyone who is exposed to it.
- Your main points may be different, and that's okay as long as it's consistent with the rest of Scripture.
God didn't leave us a manual or a rule book. He left us a story book with portraits of real people. It's up to us to take away lessons or cautions from the biographies presented. In the early chapters of Genesis, we read the story of Noah, and God's miraculous provision for him and his family in the face of total judgment. However, soon after, God includes the story of Noah's drunkenness. Why? Maybe as a warning against drinking. Maybe a caution that failure often follows close behind victory. Maybe to tell us Noah still needed that grace, that he wasn't perfect.
What guidance have you found in Scripture that didn't come in a direct command?