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Biff is struggling with getting his life on track. His friend is trying to figure out if he is serious about receiving help. Not every person who asks for help is serious about change. It is a common problem with people who are struggling.
Bud is unsure if Biff is shooting straight with him, so he sends me an email asking for advice on how to proceed. I suggested to Bud that he look more closely into Biff’s life before he charts a course to help him.
One of the ways that Bud can do this is by assessing a few prerequisite qualities that should be part of any person who says he wants to change. The things that we do (our behaviors) flow out of who we are (Proverbs 4:23; Luke 6:45).
Before Bud starts discipling Biff about his problems, he must learn more about Biff’s internal motivation for help. These questions will help Bud assess Biff’s seriousness. These queries focus less on the “presenting problems” and more on Biff’s thoughts, intentions, and motives.
These questions will give Bud insight into Biff’s spiritual maturity. Bud is not looking for perfection regarding the things listed, but the presence of Christlike qualities should be evident in Biff’s life.
I’m not suggesting that Bud should not try to help Biff if he does not possess the biblical qualities, but he needs to know that if Biff is not trying to mature in Christ, Bud will not be able to help him. God resists the proud, and if any person is not doing these basic things, he will experience God’s resistance, and attempting to transform will be futile.
If Bud tries to change the behavioral issues in Biff’s life, he may “turn over a new leaf,” and get short-term change, but there will not be long-term transformation because God will be against Biff’s efforts.
As Bud continues to assess his friend, here are a few more questions that will help him know if Biff is cooperating with God.
Some people think disciplers can work magic. Other individuals want folks to change more than the “problem person” wants to change. These folks believe that if they can get the struggler before the counselor, change will happen.
It probably won’t. Counselors, disciplers, and friends can only water and plant. God is the one that provides the growth. And if the individual who needs to change does not want to change, it won’t happen. James is clear,
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. – James 4:6-8