Yes, you a counselor! But not just any kind of counselor. A BIBLICAL Counselor.
Consider Colossians 3:12-17 and look at the relationships that we are to have with other Christians, particularly when the other Christians have not been very “Christian”. They have been sinning, and sometimes their sins have been hurtful to us. We have some direction given to us in these verses, with the one over-all principle being love. After describing the various character qualities to be found in the life of every believer, Paul says this: Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity (verse 14).
That love was modeled for us in Christ, who has forgiven us, it was modeled in God who showed forbearance toward our sins. We should not forget the gospel. What Paul is teaching in these verses is based on the gospel. Go back and review what Paul taught the Colossians thus far in this letter (Colossians 1:13-23; 2:13-14, 20-21; 3:1).
So because of the gospel, we should be living in right relationships with other Christians, bearing with their sins, forgiving their sins, and then sometimes actually confronting their sin and admonishing them. Notice the words found in verse 16: Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. It is the word “admonishing” that speaks directly to this subject of being a counselor.
Let’s now ask and answer some important questions that will challenge us to fulfill our fellowship responsibilities as it relates to admonishing other Christians.
What does it mean to admonish someone? The word literally means to put something into someone’s mind. It can be understood as giving someone a warning about wrong behavior. But more than just warning, it also will include positive instruction to correct the wrong behavior. This is something that we frequently had to do with our children as they grew up in our homes. But it is something that we all need from time to time because we all continue to engage in wrong behavior. In 1 Thessalonians 5:14 we see Paul commanding those Christians to admonish their “unruly” members. That would be Christians who were not being submissive to the Word of God (unruly being the military word for a soldier submitting to those who are over him). But be careful not to think that admonish is an attitude of criticism and judging. It is to be done because you care.
By the way, there are two passages where Paul lays out this requirement to admonish one another. Besides this verse in Colossians we also find it in Romans 15:14. It is interesting to note that Paul has not been to either one of these churches, meaning that he does not know very many of the people personally. Yet he expects them to do it.
How should we admonish one another? Here are some principles that we see in Paul’s expectation of admonishment. First, we should be willing to admonish one another constantly. Both of the passages we have noted have this verb being used in the present tense which suggests continual admonishment, whenever the need arises. That does not necessarily mean going around as the admonishment police, but it does suggest we should be ready to do it whenever it is needed, particularly with people with whom we have personal relationships.
Second, we should be willing to admonish one another biblically. By that, I mean we need to know the Word of God because that is the basis of our admonition. It does not come from our experience, our environment, our feeling, or anything else from within us, except the indwelling Holy Spirit who teaches us and fills with knowledge from the Word. But that doesn’t mean we can use lack of knowledge of the Bible as an excuse. It is expected that we will “filled with knowledge” (Romans 15:14), and have the Word of Christ dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16). So we need to be getting as much of the Word of God as possible so that we are prepared.
And speaking of being prepared, there is certainly a great deal of value to training for Biblical counseling. This does not mean that everyone should be doing it as a regular ministry. Some would certainly be more gifted and equipped than others. But we all should be ready to step up to help another Christian who is clearly showing unbiblical actions. Here is a helpful resource, both for the person who is involved in the counseling ministry, as well as the average Christian who needs help finding scripture to address specific sinful behaviors. It’s a book called Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling by John Kruis (get a used copy!).
There are many other resources available that will help to train you for the ministry of Biblical counseling (think Biblical admonition here). In fact, there is some training that many from FBC will be attending that begins on June 27. Here is a link to get more information. IBCD Summer Institute
In part 2, we will look at some situations where admonition is needed in the life of our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as some other resources that are readily available to help you be prepared for this needed and neglected ministry that is expected of us.