Friday, February 17, 2017

The downside of Christian "help"

Today is my younger son's birthday. He is 27 years old and has battled many illnesses in his life. I, too, have battled illnesses and other issues. One of the types of continuous battles I have endured is the battle against Christian unhelpful advice.

Valentine's Day has just passed.

What Bible verses should I use for Valentine's Day, a day dedicated to friendship, to marriage, and to love?

I thought hard and long about this and I decided on the two verses below because it is my son's birthday and because I have experienced how false or imperfect love is often shown to those with sick children. I will add a nod to Valentine's Day, though. Since we're talking about love and friendship.

Marriage is another thing that Christians judge each other about. Christians who have been divorced after a five year marriage will attempt to give counsel to people who have been married for 30 years. Christians without sick children have attempted to counsel and judge the spirituality of Christians with sick children. Christians who insist on giving other Christians marriage or spiritual advice --whether on phone calls, or through emails, or in person should remember the following two verses.

The Bible states:

Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy. Proverbs 14:10
 
It also states:
 
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, Phil 2:3
 
It is understandable that as a people zealous of good work, we all try to help each other. But, this need to help another by sharing our wisdom with them often rests on these foundations:
 
A) "The person to whom I am speaking does not know what I know."
B) "The person whom I am helping has never had the thought I am now having."
C) "The person to whom I am speaking has not spoken to God or heard from God and/or is not speaking to God about this problem."
D) "No one has ever told this person what I am now telling them."
E) "My desire to tell this person what is on my heart is solely from God and not from my own desire to meddle."
F) "If the person whom I am seeking to help will only do what I say, then all will be well."
 
This kind of reasoning shows that we esteem ourselves and our ideas more than we esteem others. Consider, Job's friends. They were spiritual people and most Christians nowadays are like them. They want to give an answer to another person and they believe they know. But Job's friends are better than modern Christians. Job's friends at least kept quiet for seven days.
 
Like Job, many Christians suddenly have to deal with forgiveness issues after their friends have decided to help them with advice.
 
The Christian "friend" does not realize this. Neither do they realize that their advice can be felt as disheartening  and can feel as if the "helper" is subtly bullying and hinting at them. It makes them feel unheard and preached at. Primarily, however, the "helper" has put the wounded, sick, or sad Christian in the position of feeling unlistened to. There is something so tiring about people not hearing one's heart. And the sad thing is that the Christian who is intent on "helping" her fellow Christian often never seems able to simply shut up.  This shows that it is often not God speaking but that we are dealing with a Christian who, like Job's friends, has a judgmental need to hammer her friend with her theological hammer.

Sometimes, we love others by simply acknowledging that we believe them and the words they have said about their lives.

Happy Valentine's Day, my sweet son and my kind, nonjudgmental and silent friends.
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