Counselors Reflect on Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp
A Series to Care for the Care Takers of God’s People
“Having a ministry that is fueled by personal devotion has its roots in humble, heart-deep confession.” (Paul David Tripp, Dangerous Calling, page 35).
Sometimes we have to repent and confess until we believe it, or if I can say it this way, until our hearts feel it. Our repentance is not genuine unless (1) we believe we need to change and (2) we really want to change. There are times we can mentally assent to what we know is wrong in our hearts. We nod to the truth but don’t have the desire to make it a reality in our lives.
I’ve seen this truth played out in my life and was encouraged when I saw this development in one of the husbands I counseled. He struggled with a particular sin in his life that caused his wife tremendous heartache and threatened his marriage. And while he had enough truth to see that he needed to keep coming to counseling regularly, attending a sin-based struggle group, and trying to stay in community, he didn’t quite feel his depravity and wasn’t broken about his sin. In our last session however, with his wife in attendance, he admitted that he didn’t know how much he’d hurt her until recently. He had just begun to feel himself the pain he caused in others and it broke his heart. I told him that he was experiencing the signs of true repentance and that his obedience and God’s grace was producing heartfelt change in him. His wife truly began to feel more loved by him because he was finally broken over the same things that she was.
There are many times when I pray “Lord I don’t love you like I ought to but I want to.” This is my way of confessing that my heart doesn’t desire Christ-like sanctification like it should and I need more of God’s grace to do in me what I cannot will in myself. While my deepest desire emanating from a new regenerate heart yearns for personal holiness, my old man lead by my flesh cares nothing for the things of God. It’s easy to become complacent with praying the “right” prayers but never actually giving our hearts the focus and attention it deserves. We can get off our knees or close the Bible without ever confronting our heart’s indifference to the Spirit of God and intimacy with Christ. Deep fellowship and intimacy with God should always be the daily goal of our Christian lives. Our devotional time and prayers should always end with hearts that worship and adore. Anything less can easily become legalistic and routine and where we assume that just because we are disciplined we must also be loving Christ well.
I constantly hear these words from Jesus “These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.” To some this may sound punitive but I hear it as a sincere and gracious plea from Christ to sync one’s words and actions with their heart and inner devotion. So I encourage you to fight every day for a soft heart, one that doesn’t allow for confession to remain stale and inefficacious. Though every Christian goes through dry spells in their walk with Christ we are never to be content with that way of relating to him. We should always seek to experience as many of the sweet, felt moments that come with being in relationship with and being loved by Jesus.
|Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry By Paul David Tripp / Crossway Books & Bibles