Taken with a Grain of Salt
It’s a warning people have understood for centuries. Some advice needs to be taken “with a grain of salt.” Ever wondered what was meant by that? In ancient times, salt was hard to come by, expensive, and even considered as a form of medicine. In Latin, folks warned that some counsel needed “cum grano salis.” In other words, some advice might not be the healthiest around. In that light, you’ll want to keep the medicine on hand, just in case.
If you live long enough, you’ll receive counsel that’s less than perfect, and you’ll probably give some, too. On the other hand, God will bring individuals into our lives, at just the right time, to say just the right thing. It’s critically important, therefore, to have a justification for knowing how to sort the good from the bad, the keepers from the rejects, the advice that’s good medicine, and the counsel that will make you sick.
Advice during Grief
Writer Harriet Sarnoff Schiff has distilled her pain and tragedy in a book called The Bereaved Parent. When her young son died during an operation to correct a congenital heart malfunction, her clergyman took her aside and said, “I know that this is a painful time for you. But I know that you will get through it all right, because God never sends us more of a burden than we can bear. God only let this happen to you because He knows that you are strong enough to handle it.” She looked at the pastor and drew the logical conclusion. “So,” she said, “if only I were a weaker person, Robbie would still be alive?”
Every pastor and mature Christian learns, sooner or later, that there are times when the best thing we can do for one another is simply to cry together. How wonderful it would have been if Job’s friends had followed that counsel, and kept their silence past a single week. (Job 2:13 tells us his friends “sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.”)