I am often asked by my counselees, “Why am I here?” The simple and straightforward answer to this question could change our life: We are here to glorify God.
Glorifying God happens when the focus of life changes from living for my pleasure and glory to living for His pleasure and glory. It demands that my heart change from a “me” centered focus to a God-centered focus.
In order to accomplish this goal, changes must take place. The first change that must take place is in the heart itself.
Change requires action on two frontiers: the first is the renewing of the mind through the memorization and internalization of Scripture. In order to know what needs to change from a biblical perspective the Word of God has to enlighten us.
Then we need to take the action step of putting the truth of the Word into practice. Making application of the Scriptures to life is a critical component for if you know the Word and do nothing with it, what benefit is there in that?
For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. James 2:26 (NASB)
Putting the Scriptures into practice can involve what Jay Adams calls radical amputation; cutting off anything that leads you to sin and putting it away from you. I know a man who has the television removed from his hotel room before he arrives because the television is a point of stumbling for him. He cuts off his access to the television which is not a bad thing to do. However, if you only stop wrong behaviors how does that affect the heart and in some cases, your eternal destiny? It has to go beyond that!
Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:17 (NASB)
Remember, I have told you before that the heart that is set on self is focused on what is most important to me, what I want, and what I desire. The heart focused on self might place happiness and what makes me feel good ahead of the needs of others.
These goals reveal the heart of an idolater, and if the desires go unmet the person will often sin in response to being denied. The idolater is also willing to sin to get them what they want. The pursuit of the fulfillment of their hearts desires is more important than the glory of God.
We satisfy the itch of the heart. There is no room for God in this equation.
There is also no room for God in the equation when the only goal of a person with problems is to feel better. So often I find that people make their focus in counseling that of feeling better or happy. Receiving “good counseling” is equated to what they feel like emotionally during the counseling process. They believe that if their emotions are good, then counseling has been successful.
This is a tragic mistake! What I hope to help the counselee to see is that these desires to feel happy or good are what lead them to sinful actions and attitudes. With happiness as the motive, all too often the problems that brought them to counseling reappear and their sorrow deepens to hopelessness because the goal of the counseling is off-base.
Yes, the goal of all discipleship counseling is change, but not change in circumstances or change in feelings. The goal of biblical counseling and discipleship is heart level change that brings about a life that glorifies God. This means God’s priorities become our priorities; and these changes in priority take place in the inner man before they are evidenced in behavior.
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