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Can I admit from the start my own difficulties with this topic? I expect most of us will struggle with this, but I know God’s grace can bring us growth.

You meet someone raw, just out of the world and newly saved. F-bombs drop like a shock-and-awe campaign, and they got saved while living with someone they’re dating. God found them misbehaving the same way He found us. We know this in our heads, yet all we can seem to think about is the gap between where they are and where they should be. “Where they should be” could probably be a post in and of itself. For now, though, what do we do about that inescapable drive to “make them” change, whatever our motivations and goals may be? Something inside of us screams to take control, almost is if we want tomake their decisions for them.

When we see ourselves as capable of making other people change their beliefs or behavior, we become manipulative. Perhaps we withhold fellowship until they attain to some sufficient picture of “normal” that we can actually work with. Perhaps we resort to some version of scolding them, requiring some measure of visible penance before we’ll stop. Perhaps we simply don’t want them coming to a gathering until their lifestyle cleans up a little bit, maybe tiptoeing around them with uneasiness and avoidance.

We have no power to make anyone do anything, and I really do mean that. We have two main tools at our disposal. First, we can clearly show them who God is through what we say about God and how we treat them. This includes urgently and vividly showing them the real damage of their sin, the glory of the God from whom sin separates them, and the power of Jesus to rescue them. Second, we can pray for God to give them eyes to see Him as we strive to display Him clearly and contextually. Only God can do the rest. If they don’tsee the God we show, they won’t really change no matter what we do. In fact, the danger of manipulation is that they might change for all the wrong reasons, seeing behavior as the way to gain favor with us and with God.

God proclaims His gospel through His church, through us. We are indeed “in the way,” and we must be. Intervention is right, but the how and the why matter. As we approach our friends we deem as “raw,” will we release our grip on control and manipulation? Will we rely on (1) the gospel message and (2) an eye-opening God to do the heavy lifting? Will we say with our actions, “Yes, the gospel is enough!”?

Posted by Matt Norman with

God's Glory

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There’s nothing clear about counsel. It’s cloudy. It’s unexpected. It’s disorienting. What we need is not a rulebook or a script. We need a heart that wants the right things. I want to tie our biggest mandate as humans into how we approach others in not only counsel but everyday life.

In beautiful poetic expression, we read the reason we were made:

So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them. (Gen. 1:27)

Think of God as a giant Weigel’s cup. The tiniest splash sneaks off the top, and with that,an entire universe spills out! From its grand expanse to the edges of the visible universe down to the unbelievable complexities of quantum mechanics at work everywhere within this grand expanse, we see one unified message: God is that glorious! He made it with amere overflow of His glory to point to how much greater He, Himself, is!

You and I exist to show God off. When we don’t grasp this as counselors, we’re walking blind.

Your first duty, your most important job at Legacy Church, is to be so enamored and so delighted with God that your greatest desire of all is to see Him and make Him seen (Deut. 6:5). You must engage a daily, momently discipline of consciously recalling, beholding, and delighting in who God is. Without a heart that first longs for God to be seen more clearly above all other longings, we will approach others wrongly and lead them in the wrong direction, no matter how much doctrine we have right in our heads.

Counsel is unexpected by nature. Not only can you not predict what another will bring to the table when you plan a meeting with them, you cannot even predict when you will meet with them. We counsel in our community groups. We counsel at the dinner table. We counsel in the grocery store. We counsel in any opportunity that meets us. We counsel in the car after we snap at our spouse in anger. Counsel sneaks up on you, often while your heart is being fleshly and you have to repent as you counsel.

The only way to do counsel well in cloudy, messy, unpredictable life is to have hearts that truly have one overarching desire at any and all times: to know a glorious God and to make Him known. This desire must be stronger and more moving than fear, comfort, security, reputation, self-justification, and vindication. God has to be that glorious to you, a real glory you can sink your teeth into, a glory you really delight in. We must be able to counter our flesh when we’re accused and say, “I know I want to defend myself right now, but I delight more in brushing that aside in order to show you who God is!”

No matter what you face, if you greatest longing is for them to see God, you’re heading in a good direction.

Posted by Matt Norman with

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