Monday, October 2, 2017

If I Have Biblical Counseling but Have Not Love...

I discovered biblical counseling almost 10 years ago—and it made a huge difference in the way I see and help people who are hurting. If you are not familiar with biblical counseling, it’s just that—giving counsel from the Bible. Parents do it. Friends do it. Bible study leaders, pastors, Sunday school teachers, deacons and elders do it.

So what’s big deal? In the early 1970’s a Presbyterian minister asked why churches send hurting people outside the church for help. Others started asking similar questions and looking for biblical answers to depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, marital difficulty, and other very real, difficult life struggles. In the years since, books, resources, pastors, conferences, and programs have multiplied—all with practical, biblical truths and principles that address heart issues.

Since it’s fall, a football analogy seemed appropriate. No analogy is perfect, but for the story’s sake, let’s pretend Christians are pushing toward the goal of Christlikeness. A person seeking help is a “counselee.” The person offering help (casually or professionally) is the counselor.

If counselees are moving toward the goal, I picture myself, the counselor, as another teammate on the field--game book in mind, listening to and checking in with the Coach. Down here on the turf, we take our share of knocks. Some are falling down, others are picking them up. We’re pointing, directing, limping alongside, and holding on to one another, cheering others on, blocking and tackling.

As I push and scramble on the field, here are some thoughts to build unity as we throw hand-signals, pray, and spur each other on:

  • The Coach and Playbook are vital. We have great examples on the field, but we work together best when each one talks to the Coach and studies the Playbook personally. When we don’t, even the best of intentions are ineffective.
  • Every player/counselor belongs on the field. A counselee needs a biblical counselor that is engaged, walking the talk, praying, and getting dirty in this thing called “life.” We carry the ball, block, tackle, and work to protect one another. There is no bench in the Christian life; there are no spectators.
  • In one sense, we're all on the field: each of us should give sound, biblical advice, each of us is struggling and playing. On the other hand, each person uses his or her spiritual gifts to benefit everyone. In addition to hands-on counseling, there are needs to communicate, treat the wounded, provide water, cheer and encourage, make deliveries to the field, run the chain, etc. We're all working together both on and off the field. But if everyone only want to give biblical counsel to the exclusion of other jobs, things are left undone and everyone suffers.*
  • No player or team member is more important than another. We have different gifts, callings, and responsibilities, but we must guard against discrimination based on differences in lingo, resources, plays, and expertise. When we’re all heading the same direction, listening to the same Coach and using the same Playbook, the brand of socks we wear doesn’t matter.  As one Youtube-made-famous-woman said, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” We all have more than enough of the Master’s work to keep us pressing onward and upward together.
In and through it all, If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.  (1 Corinthians 13:2, The Message)

*I find it interesting how many spiritual gifts are commanded for everyone, but there are some individuals who are especially gifted in that area.

For example, we're all commanded to teach (Matthew 28:20, the Great Commission) but some have the gift of teaching (Romans 12:7, 1 Corinthians 12:28-29). We're all commanded to serve one another (Galatians 5:13), but some have the gift of service (Romans 12:7, 1 Peter 4:11).

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

And I will show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.(1 Cor. 12:12-13:13)

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