When we think of the process of restoring a broken relationship, hopefully one of the first things that comes to mind is Matthew 7:3-5,
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
The process is:
Repent (Log) –> Receive Forgiveness –> Hear Repentance/Confront (Speck) –> Forgive
However, when you are struggling with the sin of bitterness this process may have to be reversed. Before the bitter person will be able to see their bitter actions as wrong, they must take the step of forgiving. Until forgiveness is granted they will be convinced their bitter actions/words were “appropriate.” For the bitter person, it is only granting forgiveness that will give them “clear eyes” to see their need to repent.
The reverse process would be:
give (Speck) –> Restore Relationship –> Experience Brokenness/Repent (Log) –> Receive Forgiveness
I hope this (tentative) proposal does not cause anyone to question the authority of Scripture to address the issues of life – my prayer is that it increases such confidence. The goal is to merely raise the question, should certain sins/struggles be approached differently? The question almost begs for the answer “Yes.”
Or stated differently, how cautious should we be to apply a passage that appears to apply to situation without further examining the person and situation? As we will see below all three of these pieces are essential to effective ministry that honors God, is true to the Bible, and loves people.
But it forces the secondary question, “How well do we know the dynamic of particular sins?” All sin is equally wrong and all sin has the same author (Satan) with the same intent (destruction). But not all sin operates the same.
In order to minister effectively we must interpret three things accurately:
- The Bible
- The Person
- The Situation
My goal in this post is not to propose a model, or even to presume that I am correct in the brief counseling protocol. My goal is to raise a question and provide an example that forces us to consider how the interpretation of each of these areas affects the other two.