Facing Resistance

This article is by Andrew Dealy and published by BCC


“But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? And he said, Who are you, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” 
Acts 9:1-5

At times, counseling biblically will put us at odds with our counselees. Some will not want to hear the truths of Scripture. Ears that have been tuned to follow the melodies moving our culture will be set on edge by the counter song sung throughout Scripture. We should not be surprised when our counselees are offended by what we offer. It is, perhaps, one of the more salient evidences that we are being like Christ as He both comforted and confronted in His ministry and was ultimately put to death as a result.

Wrong Resistance

We must keep in mind that Christ always comforted and confronted perfectly. We don’t. Sometimes we face resistant counselees because we deserve to be resisted. The tendency to go beyond what has been written and create new laws for our counselees is an unfortunate temptation. Inserting our opinions as though they carry the same weight as God’s Word happens. And, at times, we shelve love and bury our counselees beneath a dump-truck of theological truth.

In these moments, our counselee’s resistance to our counsel will be a gift. It will be the smelling salt that awakens us to our error and reminds us of our limitations. It will also provide us an opportunity to model a godward life to our counselee by repenting of our error. We, like all believers, must take heed of our pride, lest we fall.

Godward Resistance

When counselees are offended by biblical counsel, we need to keep in mind that the struggle is not between them and us, but between them and Christ. They are not kicking against the strength of our flimsy wisdom, but rather kicking against Wisdom itself. We must keep ourselves out of the way and help counselees realize that their struggle is internal. God claims lordship over their life, for He made it. The battle, at its core, is for the allegiance of their heart.

Saul’s allegiance was misplaced, and he found himself ignorantly being about the business of hurting God’s family. God could have wiped him off the face of the earth in a second, but He didn’t. Instead, He gave Saul a new name and a new mission. This is the nature of God—patient and merciful to an extent that confounds us. Taking the forsaken, wayward, and stubborn and making them new. Taking the lost causes and revealing there is no such thing when God is involved.

Hope Beyond Resistance

May this provide great hope and recalibrate us according to the boundaries of our role. We are messengers carrying a message that we did not create. We speak not for ourselves but on behalf of the Perfect Counselor. And when we work with counselees who are resistant to biblical counsel, we know the wrestle is not between them and us, but between them and the Lord. As we feel the pain of this tension, Jesus feels it with us.

So, may we take courage, knowing the most calcified and stubborn heart is malleable in God’s hands. Our job is to help such counselees see that His grace-filled, love-pierced hands are present, open wide, and worthy of being trusted. In the light of such love, all shadows of resistance will eventually fade. 

Questions for Reflection

  1. How do you tend to handle resistant counselees? What happens in your heart when counselees disagree with your counsel?
  2. What tendencies do you need to be conscious of in your counseling that might produce unhelpful resistance? Do you go beyond the commands of Scripture, making your own law? Do you, at times, place your opinion on equal footing with God’s Word?
  3. Are there counselees for which you have lost hope? Take a moment and pray for them. Take time to meditate on the many stories in Scripture of God saving the seemingly unsavable. Remember the miracle and joy of your own salvation.

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