Remember, not all counseling is specifically sin-related in a personal sense, but some certainly is. The love-motivated efforts of brothers and sisters in Christ to help one another overcome sin is the focus of this post.
While some of these sin-related counseling situations are initiated by counselees when they finally recognize they are trapped and cannot get out of sin’s bondage without help, other counseling relationships are initiated by biblical counselors as a result of observing foolish choices or sinful life patterns in brothers or sisters in Christ. Whether or not the ensnared brothers or sisters see that they are in bondage is not the issue. Love initiates the restoration of strugglers to a place of fellowship and blessing. William Goode, long-time pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Lafayette, Indiana and founder of Faith Baptist Counseling Ministry, compellingly writes that “to consider counseling an optional ministry is to withhold biblical love at the time it is needed most in the believer’s life—when he or she is in trouble … we must be about the business of restoring rather than ignoring such Christians … Believers will never become like Christ if they are not winning the battle against sin in their lives and investing themselves in the lives of others. And there can be no discipling if there is no plan to help the disciple who gets into trouble.”
Galatians 6:1–5 provides such a plan. Take some time to meditate on this passage of Scripture and its implications for loving one-another ministry. If you are part of a small group then dedicate one of your meeting times to discussing this Scripture and its implications for Christian community.
While we lovingly confront others, in keeping with the goal of restoration, we must remind them that “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Rom. 8:2). By ministering in this way, we “fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2), who came not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45). Jay Adams, a pioneer in the present-day biblical counseling movement, writes of the priority of love in our relationships with fellow disciples:
Love for God and one’s neighbor constitutes the sum of God’s requirements for the Christian. The man who loves needs no counseling. Love cements relationships between God and man and man and man. While love attracts, fear repels. When love gives, lust grabs. What love builds, hatred destroys. With love communication flourishes; with resentment it withers. Love is the ultimate answer to all the problems of living with which the Christian counselor deals. Love, therefore, is the goal.
As disciple-makers, we must recognize that we are not the only ones fighting the daily battle against sin, but our brothers and sisters are too, though some of them may be losing the war and need extra help in gaining the victory. If walking in love is what we are training disciples for, then we must model this same love throughout the process of making disciples. This means that we must love our brothers and sisters in Christ enough to humbly confront them when they are trapped by sin, and gently lead them into paths of righteousness. Ministry without this kind of love profits nothing (1 Cor. 13:1–3). Love looks to the long-term good of the defeated disciple and brings forth compassionate, restorative, humble ministry to a fellow sinner, recognizing that, to one degree or another, we are all “strugglers” and therefore must maintain a commitment to the kind of ministry that restores.