Counseling in the Church
Sermon Series: The Affectionate Gospel
Sermon Title: Counseling in the Church
1 Thessalonians 5:14
When a member is in trouble, every member is called upon to help.
As he closes his letter, Paul provides final instructions to the Thessalonian church. He urges them to counsel one another. All Christians experience distress, brokenness, fear, confusion, drift. We need counsel to bring us back to health. Since counseling is considered high priority family business, God uses the members of the body to counsel the body.
Point 1: Every Member Counsels
In urging “all brothers,” Paul directly addresses all church members to counsel one another. Such ministry needs to be redeemed in the church. The medical model of professional counseling and medicine do have their place; but solely embracing this model impels the church to neglect its call to counsel one another. Attempting to solve “God problems” like fear, anxiety, depression, and anger without God is to live without real peace (Jer. 6:14).
Point 2: Every Counselee is Unique
There are three common wrong responses to trouble:
- I quit (admonish the idle) - To admonish is to warn the disorderly by pointing out the consequences of going astray.
- I’m afraid (encourage the faint hearted) - When difficulties loom and circumstances overwhelm, we buoy one another with the hope provided by God’s promises.
- I can’t (help the weak) - When more is required than what a person has available, we are called to provide assistance by lifting the weight and carrying the burden.
Counseling is not a one-size-fits-all application. Christians must function as a true family by relating to one another regularly. By doing so, we are afforded opportunities to listen, to observe, and to discern.
Point 3: Two Requirements for Counseling
Both scripture and patience are required for counseling. Scripture is sufficient to counsel us, as it is necessary for knowing the gospel, for maintaining spiritual life, and for knowing God’s will. Human wisdom and philosophies are not to be our counseling content. Instead we must ask, “What does God say about this? What does He prescribe?” In addition, Paul instructs is to “be patient with them all,” for counseling with patience is an expression of love (1 Cor. 13:4), and the source of this love is God (1 John 4:19). Impatience in counseling sabotages the real agenda, shifting the focus away from God and onto the counselor.
To grow in patience, we must remember that
- We are more alike than different,
- We have all been bought by the same Savior, and
- We have the Holy Spirit who is at work in all of us.
- Ask for help when you need it, and
- Give help when asked for it.