BIBLICAL COUNSELLORS: EXPERTS IN SIN OR GODLINESS?
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.' Colossians 3:12-14 ESV
Are you an expert in sin or godliness?
I began study in biblical counselling 5 years ago with the belief that a good biblical counselor was an expert in sin. In fact I have to admit, one of the things that drew me to the teaching of biblical counsellors was the way they understood how sin effects our lives. It was this starting point that made me pursue becoming a sin expert.
Beginning with myself, my wife, my congregation I became focused on helping people see sin in their life, that they might turn and trust in Jesus. Now to some that sounds helpful. Some people like the idea of being pulled apart and their sins exposed. But to a lot of other people my sin investigations left them feeling condemned and hopeless. Yes, I was reminding them of the forgiveness of Jesus. But there was one thing, among others, that I was failing to do. I failed to give them a vision for the new life of godliness made possible by Jesus.
It was not that I never talked about what they should do. But most of the time I talked about abstaining from what they shouldn’t do. I had skills to expose the nature of sin in a person’s life. But I was very poor at giving any detail to the new life of godliness possible through the work of God’s Spirit.
But as I read the apostle Paul in Colossians I see rich detail to the life he exhorts them to live. Yes he speaks about their sin. But more than that, he reminds them who they are – chosen, holy and beloved. He gives them a vision for how to live according to that identity, a life of love, forgiveness, humility, kindness and patience.
Let me ask you, do you tend to be an expert at sin or godliness? Is there as much detail to your encouragement to live a godly life, as your insight into peoples sin? Are you creative in helping people think through what it means to live as God’s redeemed people? Praise God that over the last 5 years I have seen this problem in me. Please pray I would grow in my capacity to like Paul, give people a vivid detailed picture of the life that God enables his children to live.