Sunday, June 24, 2012

Listening is Love

Listening is Caring with Applied Grace

Some would have us believe that Christians are best sanctified through immediate confrontation of their sin.  There are even some Christian Counseling training programs that say that. Both scripture and common sense tell us that immediate confrontation of hurting people will not work.  For example, if you were to confide in a spouse or a friend that you were struggling with a problem, would you want them to simply confront you with your sin and command you to repent?  Hardly anyone wants that done to them. 

Confrontation emphasizes the justice of God toward the rebelliousness of people.  That is sometimes necessary but always after a relationship of trust has been established in depth.  After one has earned the right to be heard, the tougher skills can be used with benefit, but not before. 

At the beginning of a relationship when the Seeker’s guilt and shame are felt and expressed most intensely, only grace expressed as nonjudgmental acceptance can effectively enable a Helper to get through the fig leaves of self condemnation, denial, blaming, and anger.  Confrontation, especially when it is accurate, is far too threatening to use early in a helping relationship and that is why this skill is taught later in Apples II for Couples. 

In Galatians we are commanded to live by the fruit of the Spirit rather than the fruit of the flesh (Gal. 5:16-6:1).  The teaching on the fruit of the Spirit concludes with instructions on how sinners are to be counseled, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted (Gal. 6:1). 

Rather than confronting people all the time, the spiritually mature ones are to show the fruit of the Spirit which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  It is the fruit that are the foci of Apples of Gold I with a special emphasis on peaceful relationships as opposed to relationships that cause contention and division.  

So, do you want to be spiritually mature of  immature? Child like or childish? Listening indicates calmness, patience, kindness, faith in God and hope for change. 

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