Are Your Counselees God-Fearing Christians?

July 3, 2015

Shannon Kay McCoy

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Shannon Kay McCoy

A Note From Your BCC Team: If you are looking for our typical “Friday 5,” we would encourage you to go to our Tuesday post: 3 Dozen Posts on the Supreme Court Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage. Here’s how we introduced that post:

Typically every Friday we bring you the “Friday 5”—links to the top 5 biblical counseling and Christian living blog posts of the week. This week we have moved our “Friday 5” to Tuesday (“The Tuesday 36”) because of the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding same-sex marriage (Obergebell v. Hodges). Rather than 5 links, we have 36 links for you today—links that help us to prayerfully think through a biblical response to this ruling.

So, instead of a “Friday 5,” today you can enjoy Shannon Kay McCoy’s post, Are Your Counselees God-Fearing Christians?

Learning the Fear of the Lord

When was the last time you heard someone say, “She is a God-fearing woman,” or “He is a God-fearing man”? If you are over 40 and grew up in the Bible Belt, you must have heard it once or twice. Well, it is a lost concept in today’s society. Not even Christians refer to one another as God-fearing men or women. Do we even know what that means anymore?

There was a time in history when one of the main qualities a person looked for in the choice of a spouse was that of a God-fearing man or a God-fearing woman. Generally speaking, they were looking for someone who would be described as a Christian, devout, reverent to God, churchgoing, and serious about living the Christian life.

One of the goals of a biblical counselor is to teach our counselees to be God-fearing men and women. In Psalm 34:11, King David instructs the people to listen to him so that he can teach them the fear of the Lord.

Sinful Fear

Most people who seek biblical counseling are at a crisis point. They are desperate to have a problem fixed. They have a blatant or underlying fear of people and/or their circumstances. Their view of their problem is bigger than their view of God. Sinful fear is blinding them to a holy fear of God. Call it peer pressure, people-pleasing or codependency, fear is the driving force. Ed Welch says in his book, When People Are Big and God Is Small, that people are “controlled by whoever or whatever they believe can give them what they think they need.”

Sinful fear leads to sinful thoughts, words and actions. They see their problems as being more powerful and significant than God. When our problems are bigger than God, they control us. They are given the power to control how we feel and what we do (Proverbs 29:25).

The Fear of the Lord

Our counselees know that God must be bigger than their problem but they cannot see it. Our goal is to teach them to fear God more than they fear people or their problems. The fear of the Lord is to acknowledge God’s superiority and power over man, to recognize His deity and to respond in awe, humility, worship, love, trust, and obedience. John MacArthur says, “The fear of the Lord is a state of mind in which one’s own attitudes, will, feelings, deeds, and goals are exchanged for God’s.”

Our counsel from Scripture must be embedded in the fear of the Lord. Our counselees need the knowledge of God and His wisdom to apply to their problems. The fear of the Lord is the very foundation of that knowledge and wisdom. Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Their every thought, motive, word and deed must be influenced by the fear of the Lord. Living their lives by the fear of man and their circumstances demonstrate a lack of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7).

When our counselees speak from fearing people and their circumstances, we are to teach them to fear the Lord by knowing who He is. Psalm 91 is a great passage to teach and to remind them of who God is. Psalm 91 teaches us that God is our shelter and resting place (v. 1), our refuge, our fortress, our God (v. 2), our Savior (v. 3), our cover, our shield, our rampart, (v. 4), our dwelling (v. 9), our guardian (v. 11), our rescuer, our protector (v. 14), our answer, our deliverer (v. 15), and our salvation (v. 16). This view of God overshadows any problem they are facing. Now wisdom is needed to know how a right view of God affects their problems.

We must teach them that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is applying the knowledge of our awesome God to their problems. Proverbs 2 is an excellent passage to discover the value of wisdom. This passage teaches us how to pursue wisdom for our lives. The counselee must expend effort to gain wisdom for their problems. This involves putting aside self-absorption and giving one’s self to listening to God’s words and taking them to heart (v 1). The imperatives in this passage means that there is no room for spiritual passivity. There are eight imperatives:

  1. Receive God’s words.
  2. Treasure His commandments.
  3. Make the ear attentive.
  4. Incline the heart.
  5. Cry for discernment.
  6. Lift up the voice for understanding.
  7. Seek wisdom as silver.
  8. Search wisdom like hidden treasure.

Our role as the counselor is to help our counselees to understand how to pursue this wisdom and to make it a way of life.

The Benefits of Fearing the Lord

The teachings from Proverbs are built on the fear of the Lord. In the first chapter, we are taught that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). In the last chapter, we are admonished to praise the woman who fears the Lord (Proverbs 31:30). Throughout the book of Proverbs we see the benefits of fearing the Lord:

  • Discover the knowledge of God (Proverbs 2:5).
  • Prolongs your days (Proverbs 10:27).
  • Strong confidence and a place of refuge (Proverbs14:26).
  • The fountain of life (Proverbs 14:27).
  • The instruction of wisdom (Proverbs 15:33).
  • Keeps us from evil (Proverbs 16:6).
  • Leads to life (Proverbs 19:23).
  • Rewards with riches, honor and life (Proverbs 22:4).

There are many more benefits found in the Book of Psalms. We must encourage our counselees to study, understand, and apply these benefits to their problems.

The Transformation of Fearing the Lord

Living in the fear of the Lord will transform our counselees’ lives. They will begin to see their problems from a biblical perspective. Proverbs 8:13 says, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way; and the perverted mouth, I hate.” This is a wonderful verse to unpack in the counseling room and can be applied immediately to their heart issues.

What a blessing it is to see our counselees walk away from counseling as God-fearing men and women. Let this be the goal for our very own lives and for our counselees.

Join the Conversation

Is your counsel built on the fear of the Lord or is it an abstract concept? Do you see the benefit of explaining the fear of the Lord to your counselees? In what ways can we highlight this truth to our counselees?

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