It’s humbling to admit, but I almost didn’t make it to my first biblical counseling classes because of anxiety. What began as apprehensiveness about the quality of my work and my classroom performance morphed into full-blown anxiety about how I could possibly be a biblical counselor if fear of man so gripped my heart. Little did I know that God would use my sin as the context for revealing the gracious ways He uses others in the fight for holiness.
As God humbled me by revealing my sin, He also gave me a picture of humility through the care of a fellow student. My first evening on campus, I met a woman who discovered I was struggling and quickly began to help. My friend modeled humility through dependence on the Lord and confidence in His Word, and in the process taught me the importance of humility when counseling those who are hurting. Below are some lessons I learned through this experience about humility and about helping others.
Humility Through Dependence:
- My new friend expressed humility through dependence on the Lord. She offered compassion and steady faith from her experience of God’s past help to her. Because she had wrestled with her own overgrown desires, she was humbly compassionate as she addressed mine. She expected me to need to hear the same thing over and over. She didn’t begrudge taking time to repeat truth about God from His Word as I took baby steps of faith.
- She spoke truth that confronted lies I didn’t know I was rehearsing: she reminded me that God had not brought me to this place of testing to destroy me. Her dependence on God’s grace encouraged me to remember that God’s discipline is intended for growth and purity, not destruction.
- She ministered practically by helping me to understand how our bodies react to anxiety. Sleeping and eating were hard even as I cried out to the Lord in repentance. After reminding me that it would take time for my body to stop responding to the lies I had been telling myself, she encouraged me to keep relying on the Lord in my physical weakness.
Humility Through Confidence:
- Although she empathized deeply with my struggle, her counsel came from God’s Word. She expressed humility by not relying on her own wisdom, experience, or expertise. She knew the Bible alone equipped her to give wise counsel. Following the example of Paul, she knew her sufficiency was from God (2 Cor. 3:5).
- Ed Welch observes that we are often “afraid to jump into the complexities of someone’s life. Who are we to help someone else? We have troubles galore. Our past makes a mess of the present. Sin always threatens to overtake us. We feel broken ourselves and fear we will only make things worse for others. We feel unqualified.” Although this hesitation is real, my friend wasn’t sidelined by fear or intimidated by the intensity of my emotions. Even though the details of my suffering were particular to me, the temptations and heart themes I expressed were common (1 Cor. 10:13).
- Because God’s Word offers the same hope and help no matter the suffering, my friend had wisely devoted herself to studying the Bible. She brought good treasure out of her heart to share with me (Matt. 12:35). She encouraged me to rejoice that God has given us the Scripture to show us His character and give us His power in the midst of our suffering.
Humility Through Repentance:
It’s no surprise that my friend had developed a rhythm of repentance that enabled her to be humbly aware of her sin and confident in the resources of God’s Word.
Because she was repenting daily, she knew God’s patience and power. She loved God and others much because she was renewing her awareness of the depth of God’s forgiveness. She could help because God was giving her grace, just as James 4:6 promises: “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”
My friend’s response to my sin and suffering captures the humility embedded in one of Jonathan Edwards’ resolutions on character: “Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.” My friend wasn’t standing above me in condemnation, secretly wondering why I was struggling. She humbly spoke truth as though my failings were her own.
When we cultivate humility in our spiritual walk, we stay connected to how much we daily need the Lord’s grace and forgiveness. And this humility is critical for counseling those who are suffering because it draws God’s grace. It aligns us with the way God view things and puts our focus on Him and others. A humble heart sees God’s bigness and the power of His resources. When we suffer (even because of our sin), God gives us grace as we humble ourselves before Him. My friend was confident that God would give me all the grace I needed for the trial I was in. And He did.
Questions for Reflection
How has a humble friend helped you to see God’s grace in a trial? How are you cultivating humility in your daily life?
 Welch, E. T. (2015). Side by Side. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.
 Edwards, J. (2006, December 30). The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards. Retrieved from http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-resolutions-of-jonathan-edwards