Almost every couple in marriage counseling walks in with fingers pointed at one another: “It’s his or her fault.” If he would just change and she would stop nagging we would be fine! If it were otherwise, they probably would not be in counseling. But, praise God that they are coming in and asking for help. What an awesome sign of the Holy Spirit moving! Asking for help is no easy task, and who doesn’t need help?! We all do, it’s just whether the Holy Spirit allows us to see how desperate we are and seek Him and help from His people.
Therefore, once the Spirit encourages His people to humbly ask for help we begin the counseling process like this:
- We aim to always be slow to speak and quick to listen well.
- We build relationship and “earn the right” to speak into someone’s life.
- I ask the Counselees if they believe that I love them as a brother in Christ.
- I ask for permission to speak into their lives while praying for wisdom.
- When difficult words need to be spoken or delicate situations require addressing, I remind them that a sinful man like me is attempting to speak the truth in love.*
- Then, we pray together asking the Spirit to lead us as we do further relational work.
*Noteworthy from #5: Truth and Love must go together – God is Love and God is the Author and Perfecter of (Capital “T”) Truth. We can think many things are (lowercase “t”) truth, but if we don’t have a biblical rationale for everything we think, say and do, we should be suspect of our motivations, because our thoughts, feelings, and emotions will lie to us in a split second! Remember, just because something is “true” to you or me, sure does not make it True as God defines all Truth. Even as passionately as we may believe it or absolutely convinced we are right.
I hope this quote by Warren Wiersbe blesses you as it has my wife and me: “Truth without Love = Brutality and Love without Truth is Hypocrisy.” The Apostle Paul through the Holy Spirit’s direct guidance put “truth” and “love” together because they cannot exist separately. May this change the way we do relationships starting with marriage and moving out from there.
Please consider the hardest times in your life. Are you bitter and resentful about the hardships and struggles in your life, or have you learned something about yourself and more importantly about the Living God and who He says you are? If you are struggling with not getting what you want, that is no surprise, but we must know how to deal with such relational turmoil. Recently, I met with a couple who blamed each other for the issues in their marriage. And, I must admit, at face value without all the information, one party appeared to be totally guilty and the other, a helpless victim. But, as we walked together for a fairly short and hard season we learned that all of our hearts are to “blame.” But, we aren’t looking to blame anyone. Together, we were searching for the work of the Holy Spirit in each person. It’s easy to find the sin in someone’s life, but it’s an arduous yet joyful journey to discover the work of God’s Spirit, and this takes hard work! Of course, this seems counterintuitive but it’s the very relational struggles that God uses for His Glory and our good. Remember, God’s story of Redemption has been exactly the opposite of what we would expect from the very beginning. Have you read it recently? His Story will shock you!