This is an effective tactic. Here’s why.
The Bible is clear that our heart desires drive what we do. James points this out several times in the book that bears his name. In chapter 1 he says, “Each person is tempted when he is lured and in enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14). We desire something…and the enemy uses that desire to lure us into sin. In Chapter 4 he says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4:1-2). Our desires…what our hearts WANT…drives us to action. And when others stand in the way of what we want…we punish them.
A husband desires to be respected. When his wife and kids fail to show him that respect, he gets angry and yells. The desire for respect is driving his action. A wife wants to be loved and appreciated. She spends hours serving and giving of herself. But when her husband and kids fail to appreciate all she does, she gets angry and punishes them with guilt. The desire for those things move them to react. The heart desire lures them into sin.
This is why God puts such an emphasis on loving HIM first and others second! If I love God…if my heart desires to please Him…then my actions will follow suit! I will DO what God’s wants me to DO because I LOVE Him. So when the enemy begins to put doubt in my heart about how good God is…I begin to love Him less. Why would you love a God who is cruel? And if I love Him less, why would I want to do what pleases Him? Why would I care to be the husband he wants me to be? the wife He calls me to be? Why would I want to be the kind of father, mother, friend, co-woker that He wants me to be unless I LOVE Him with all my heart? That’s why Paul says in 2 Corinthians “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died” (2 Cor. 5:14).He died for me…and because He loved me so much, I want to love Him…it controls what I do.
As biblical counselors, we need to help our counselees understand the goodness and love of God. The more they understand this, the more they will love Him, and their behavior will become more pleasing to Him.
Ways to Help our Counselees Understand God’s Goodness
Who is God homework
My first couple of counseling session are mostly devoted to data gathering. What I hear in those first few sessions will guide the rest of my counseling time, so the homework is not yet specific. It’s a great opportunity to establish some truth about Who God is. I have a couple of homework sheets that will guide the counselee through some basic truths of God…His names, His attributes, etc. It’s helps them gain a basic belief in how powerful, holy, mighty…and yet loving and good our God is!
I have also assigned a gratitude journal. This is more specific to their life. What has God done for you that you can thank Him for? List 5 blessings a day. Or write a paragraph a day about ways God showed you His love and goodness that day. Some counselees may need help with this…but it’s a good way to put their minds on God’s goodness to THEM.
By far, the best way to remind counselees about the goodness of God is to go back to the gospel. God’s most loving action to us is when He punished His Son on my behalf! God proved His goodness by saving me from my sin! He did this for me at my worst moments (Rom. 5:8) only because He is good.
I had a call this week from a counselee. He was very hurt and frustrated by some life situations. He had been praying, but God was not answering as he would have liked…and things kept getting harder. He said, “Pastor, I’m really starting to doubt God’s goodness!” So I asked him, “Are you on your way to heaven?”
“Because Christ died for my sin.”
“Wasn’t God so good to you?!? And He loves you no less today…His love is never-changing!”
The gospel is powerful! It proves how good He is…and when we remember that, our love for Him grows…and doing what right is no longer a burden. It’s our JOY because all we want to do is to love Him back
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