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More specifically I'm wondering in the way that we go to the Bible and to God about concerns or issues that we are facing for instruction and wisdom, can we think biblically about another's concerns or issues that they are struggling with in order to help them, and in overall hopes of leading them to Christ?

I'd like to give a non-believing friend some Biblical advice, but I don't know if it will even benefit him (to be honest, I'm not quite sure what I would even say yet).

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I've edited out some of the personal stuff, since your friend may not want all his personal problems shared with the internet. ;) I left the context in, so it still gets the point across. Hope you don't mind. ;) –  Richard Dec 15 '11 at 14:16
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As for my advice, my advice is to offer him advice only if he asks for advice. If you offer him biblical advice when he asks for general advice, it may be well received. If you just start offering him advice that wasn't asked for (biblical or not), he may not appreciate it. –  Richard Dec 15 '11 at 14:19
    
@Richard Np. I was hoping for some biblical advice for his specific situation in relation to the question, but I guess that's out of scope. –  Shredder Dec 16 '11 at 22:14
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Advice on how to approach a friend would be pastoral advice, which is actually out of scope. However, you could post another question asking for which verses to use in support of your given topic. (Just throwing out that idea.) For example, "Are there any verses about X?" as long as X isn't too big of a topic (eg grace, love, forgiveness, sin). (If it's too big, you'll have to narrow it down.) –  Richard Dec 17 '11 at 11:53
    
Cool, thanks!!- –  Shredder Dec 17 '11 at 18:20
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4 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I'm going to start with some base assumptions, because I sense that the atheists are going to have a field day with this, and I'm hoping to prevent this from turning into a debate on whether or not God exists, is good, etc. The assumptions are those that are necessary for this site. IMO, the debate over the assumptions on which this site are off-topic. Those debates have nothing to do with the question asked


Assuming that God is who the Bible claims He is (a core assumption of Christianity), then He is all-knowing...

Assuming again, that the Bible is God's word, given to us by His divine inspiration, and preserved through time (again, a core assumption of Christianity)...

And further assuming that God loves us, and is good, and knows what's best for us...

Then yes, Biblical advice can absolutely help an unbeliever. In addition to pointing to God, and Christ as savior, the Bible is chock full of wisdom that is applicable to daily life. If God loves us (as the Bible says He does), then He will give us good advice, and instructions that are for our own good. His wisdom is good, regardless of whether not an individual believes it.

The instructions on how husbands and wives are supposed to love and respect each other in Ephesians 5, for example, will strengthen the relationship of anyone who chooses to follow them, regardless of whether they are Christian or not. Similarly, advice to love our neighbors (and our enemies) as we love ourselves will benefit anyone. Most strife in relationships is caused by selfishness on one or both parts. Two completely selfless people, devoted to loving each other as God intended would have nothing to fight about. (Of course, there is no such thing as a completely selfless human being.)

The question is whether or not they will choose to follow Biblical advice and apply it. Plenty of people will reject even the best advice, if it comes from a source they don't agree with.

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Thanks. I'm usually not shy about editing, but since that would have actually changed the meaning of your post, I was hesitant. :) –  Flimzy Dec 15 '11 at 6:52
    
Thanks David, makes sense. I appreciate it :) I think I was thinking too much into it. –  Shredder Dec 17 '11 at 18:45
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This is a two-part answer, because your question addresses two things:

I should also make it clear up front that I am one of those unbeliever types.

1) Yes, wisdom from the bible can be beneficial to an unbeliever.

Because wisdom from all sources is beneficial. As an unbeliever, no book holds a special place. This means that all sources can be analysed for wisdom. The bible in particular contains many parables and thought experiments that can be useful regardless of their source; exercises to challenge one's sense of ethics and morality.

But equally, we could read Harry Potter and analyse some of their circumstances and come out with different, but equally valid, wisdom. Stories of daring and heroism, and in particular those things that the heroes are willing to do or sacrifice in order to achieve that heroism, are always fun to break down and analyse. Try to work out the ethics of Snape, for example.

But do be aware that, since unbelievers don't share the same foundational concepts, the stories and ethics can come out somewhat differently. Many of the more foundational stories of the Old Testament -- The Binding of Isaac, Jonah and the Whale, The Testing of Job all being class examples -- and even the concepts from the New Testament -- the vicarious redemption of mankind by Jesus, Hell, etc. -- can be and are interpreted entirely differently.

2) Don't do that.

Even in the rare case that the story you're going to tell is actually appropriate, telling bible stories to a stressed-out unbeliever is going to come across as preachy and will stress your friendship equally if not more. Feel free to suggest actions taken by those in the stories as possible routes out of their situation -- after all, this is distilled version of the wisdom that is actually imparted to you -- but just telling the story will just likely cause your message to be lost.

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+1 - Nice, well-reasoned answer. I agree that quoting Bible verses to someone stressed out is completely un-helpful. That last part of our answer is spot-on. "Telling the truth in love" is a skill a lot of us lack at times, and our suggestion to tell the "distilled version of the wisdom" is exactly how I think such advice should be presented. I hate it when people get preach with me, and I am a believer. How you say things absolutely matters. Again, +1. –  David Stratton Dec 15 '11 at 13:02
    
Or if you're really feeling creative, adapt the story to the situation. It works for VeggieTales! Somehow they took the story of David, Bathsheba and Uriah and turned it into a story about a king, a young boy and a rubber ducky. –  Peter Turner Dec 15 '11 at 15:38
    
Great, now I'm going to have "I love my duck" stuck in my head all day ;) –  Eric Dec 15 '11 at 23:41
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There are really two kinds of wisdom, the world's and God's. The world's wisdom can vary on the scale, but God's is holy and perfect, in the way He meant it to be interpreted (which usually is pretty straight forward, and if not He will grant if asked). And yes, I think you are right on how to approach it. I need to avoid being too preachy, but like I said, its in an overall effort to lead Him to Christ. –  Shredder Dec 17 '11 at 18:36
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God is God. His Word is the living Word. It's been declared a seed of righteousness. If it is sown it will thrive and it will bring a harvest. If you think about it, this is a Word that has been around since the beginning of time and no one has ever been able to destroy it; and, it has edified and enriched countless lives. Don't ever be afraid or reluctant to share God's Word.

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Welcome, could you cite your sources? also I'd urge you to take a more academic tone rather than a preachy one. This is a site geared towards learning rather than proslytization or even really exhortation. –  wax eagle Dec 31 '13 at 14:42
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Welcome! I want to say that I do agree with your comments. However, such comments really do not fit in this forum. Here, we ask specific questions about specific beliefs that have a specific answer. We do not entertain truth questions like "What position is right?" We do, however, accept questions like, "What is the basis for this particular belief held by this particular tradition?" –  Narnian Dec 31 '13 at 15:46
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Can? Yes.

You know what they say 'History repeats it-self'. Which is also said in Ecclesiastes 1:9 there is nothing new under the sun. People learn from other's mistakes.

Specially Hollywood benefits. It is said that are only 7 original plots for stories and movies. Which comes from Bible. Hollywood knows that people are drawn to the Bible so any movie based on the Bible plots should do ok.

thanks for reading

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