The Counselor’s Aim: the Beatitudes (Part Six)
Author: Margaret Ashmore
Gospel-centered, biblical counseling points weary and wasted souls to be refreshed and revived by worshiping God and drawing from his Living Water.
Jesus is concerned for the heart more than outward activities, more than actions, articulations and airs. Because God alone looks upon the heart and knows we can keep going through the motions of the Christian life with pride, bitterness, and resentment ruling our hearts while giving the appearance that all is well with our souls.
Someone once said, “Many people live their lives in quiet desperation.” And so do born-again Christians who put on happy smiles for all their Facebook posts. But behind closed doors, their marriages are strained, their hearts are raw from past hurts, they are hiding an addiction, their fists are clenched with anger, and depression is robbing them of all joy. For this reason, Jesus will go for the heart every time; not to reform it (changing behaviors) but to transform it (changing the source of behaviors), so that all outward actions flow from the Living Water of Christ within.
One has only to note the passion – and warning – in Jesus’ words from Matthew 23:25-26:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.”
And that is the goal in gospel-centered counseling; addressing, with the cleansing of the Word (Ephesians 5:26), the inside of the cup – the heart.
That’s where we are in the Beatitudes. The King’s Speech. The Christian’s handbook of sanctification. Jesus begins his first sermon with a heart humbled by grace; poor in spirit and mourning over sin. Then a divestiture of rights, or meekness, which is such an emptying of “self” that it desires nothing more than spirit-nourishing, soul-satisfying, strength-sustaining manna from heaven; a hungering and thirsting for righteousness. Then comes the natural outgrowth of the Spirit’s divine tending of the heart – mercy.
God has taken out the alloy of “self,” and in this, he has now wrought a pure heart. The “inside of the cup” has been cleansed. The result? Self no longer eclipses the face of God. Their single vision is to see him and be awestruck by his glory; to dwell in his presence (Psalm 27:4), to know fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11), and be warmed by his countenance (Numbers 6:25). He or she can sing with all the saints whose hearts have been set aflame by the purifying fire of the Spirit.
“Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart. Not be all else to me save that Thou art.”
Psalm 38:2 says, “Your arrows have sunk deep within me.” The following are simple but straight “arrows” for counseling which aim at the heart, in the soul’s depths where healing must begin. Everything else is a Band-Aid according to God’s indictment of Israel’s leaders in Jeremiah 6:14: “They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially.”
- Don’t let your aim be deflected. When Jesus was getting nearer to the heart of this Samaritan woman, she began steering the conversation in another direction. Her kingdom’s protective walls were beginning to fall apart. The wheels were coming off her life of control and avoidance. Similarly, self-protective and self-ruled people will often try to take control of the counseling session by talking the whole time, using excuses, blaming others, bringing up their successes, or highlighting the failures of those around them.
Jesus, our Wonderful Counselor, kept steady his aim and went right back to the heart, telling her that she had a worship problem. Not an emotional problem, not a societal problem, nor a psychological problem, but that she was looking to people to meet the needs of her thirsting soul and not to the Living God who was offering her life-giving and soul-quenching water.
Note. Everyone who comes in for help has the same problem, worshiping that which cannot satisfy (relationships, jobs, expectations, recognition, money, etc.) with subsequent anger, disappointment, depression, and discouragement. Gospel-centered counseling points weary and wasted souls to be refreshed and revived by worshiping God and drawing from his Living Water, springing up to eternal life.
- Aim the results to God. Pray for the Spirit of God to convict and to grant repentance (2 Timothy 2:25). As counselors, we sew seeds of Truth upon hearts. We pray hearts that are softened or even broken by the unconditional love and tender mercy of Jesus Christ, will “receive the Word implanted which is able to save their souls.” (James 1:21) We plant and we water but only God can cause the growth. (I Corinthians 3:7)
When once the counselee’s heart is kindled with affection for so great a Savior, and worships Him in Spirit and Truth, the arrows have found their mark. Indeed, blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see all of life in the light of God. (Psalm 36:9)
Posted on June 3, 2016