One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to help others–myself included–is to use the Bible as if it were a cookbook. You know . . . having a handy list of Bible verses to fix problems such as fear, anger, depression, anxiety, and the loss of a loved one with a Bible verse or two. Oh, there are times when hearing the right verse at the right time, can do wonders to give Light and even Hope to someone in trouble. But to use the Bible to fix problems, rather than to minister to the heart is JUST PLAIN WRONG!
The Bible is not a cookbook meant to fix problems,
but is God’s means of extending Endurance and Encouragement
and Hope to the hurting,
as well equipping us to do good works.
I confess that when I began counseling I looked for verses that hit problems head-on with answers that would get my Clients up and going. Over time, however, I realized that using the Scripture as if it were a bandaid, rarely penetrated the remaining infection lurking deep inside.
As I prayed for wisdom, I discovered blessing through the example of the Apostle Paul:
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.
It was Paul’s testimony of living a life full of heartache and disappointment (as well as blessing), that changed my approach to helping others. Instead of looking to the Scriptures for answers, I looked for the light of God’s perspective that ultimately yielded an unflagging faith. Romans 15:4 speaks well to how God intends the Scriptures to be used:
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us,
so that through the Endurance taught in the Scriptures
and the Encouragement they provide we might have Hope.”
Instead of immediate answers, I learned to:
- Admit that I don’t know why God allows hurt to enter our lives.
- Offer the kindness of listening as God has done for me when I have been in dark places
- Extend meaningful Scripture passages (rather than a single verse) knowing that God uses what He will in ministering to the broken heart.
Are you in a hurting place today, looking for answers to your problems?
Do you know someone you want to help, but don’t know how?
We live in a culture focused on self-esteem yet we are miserable. It may seem counter-intuitive to address problems as God calls us to, but might I suggest that:
It takes far more courage and determination to live out a Faith
that yields an Eternal Hope in Someone outside of our ourselves.
As we shift our focus from viewing the Bible as a cookbook, we find Endurance, Encouragement and Hope in a faithful God who Shepherds our hearts. With that discovery, we can gratefully yield to the gift God means for Scripture to be:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking,
correcting and training in righteousness,
so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped
for every good work.”
II Timothy 3:16
All to His Glory!