“We are not in the problem solving business. We are in the heart restoration business.” That’s what Dr. Wayne Vanderwier, Executive Director of the Overseas Instruction in Counseling, declared during the three-day “Biblical Counseling” training that I attended along with another member last week.
No, it did not train us to become professional therapists. We did not become experts or specialists overnight. It was about reminding us the responsibility of every believer: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2, ESV) As far as our trainers are concerned, “Biblical counseling is the ministry of graciously applying the truths of the Bible to the challenges of life.” Simply put, it is soul care.
Don’t think that is about pounding the Bible on people’s heads or thinking that it has a verse for every problem we encounter. It is simply pointing out that the problem is not the problem. Ultimately, the heart is the problem. In the end, what we need is a heart transformation.
When a person has a fever, the doctor would look for the cause of the fever. The fever itself is not the sickness. It is a symptom of the sickness. Of course, the doctor would still give paracetamol to bring down our body temperature. But, to really cure us, they must deal with the infection that led to the symptom. We may give advice to a person about his problem(s). But, if we merely focus on that, we are only dealing with the symptom and not the sickness per se.
The real problem lies within the heart of that person. It may be disobedience. It may be a misunderstanding of what the Bible teaches about his situation. Or, it might be a need to put his faith in the Lord as his Savior. In dealing with a conflict in marriage, more than conflict management, we have to remind a couple regarding what the Bible teaches about marriage. We have to see if they really accept and follow the biblical portrait of marriage. The couple have to put God in His rightful place in their marriage. That’s what biblical counseling really is. In a word, discipleship.
Brethren, we are in the heart restoration business.