“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into an account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
We have over the past few weeks, been adding the necessary cap-stones that adorn the building of Biblical Counseling. So far we have looked at the brilliant cap-stones of both The Gospel and Prayer in counseling. Both of these are extremely necessary for Biblical Counseling to take place. Without the teaching and application of the gospel, or the reliance on the Lord through prayer Biblical Counseling can hardly be called ‘biblical’. For counseling to be remotely godly, the gospel must be presented and prayer, must be applied by and for all those involved.
Alongside both the presentation of the gospel and the reliance on prayer is another cap-stone of Biblical Counseling. This cap-stone is one that also can be unintentionally disregarded by overzealous counselors who long to see change effected in the lives of those whom they encouraging. The cap-stone is that of love. For Biblical Counseling to follow after the pattern of the Scriptures it must be saturated in love. For much too long our world has promoted a faulty concept of love that has unfortunately been adopted by many in the church today. For us to truly understand what Biblical love looks like in counseling, we need to first understand what it is not.
(I) The World’s view of Love: The world’s view of love and God’s view of love could not be more different from one another. Love as described by the world is a feeling, it is something that merely happens to you. It is something you fall into and therefore can just as easily fall out of. Love is not based on anything concrete, real or lasting, it is purely emotional and it is purely self-serving and self-focused. This is the world’s view of love. According to our world you don’t have to develop love, work for it, grow it, or cultivate it. It certainly isn’t something that you have to choose to do. It is merely something that overcomes you, something you can’t resist. When this is the view of love that our world promotes, then what happens when the feelings fade? What happens when you are not ‘overcome’ by this love that you have ‘fallen into’? What happens when a stronger emotion comes along? One must merely look at the culture around us to find the answer. When the emotions and feelings change, you leave what you said you loved for the better emotion. Hollywood has been pumping out this ungodly view of love for decades. Once the feeling of love for one is gone, you merely go onto the next feeling and “love” someone or something else. At its core, this type of “love” is not love at all. It is selfish idolatrous lust.
Now, lust can express itself in more than just a sexual way. Our world has defined love and lust in purely sexual terms, but that is not the case biblically speaking. One may love or lust or covet a great many things. And this is constantly what people do. A man lusts for his neighbor’s boat, or house, or car. A woman covets another woman’s face or form. The small child covets his friend’s toys and possessions. Under the guise of ‘love’ people constantly covet the things of others. Why? Because they have been taught that love to first about serving self. Love is something you get from someone or something else. It is never something you give. So what then is the Biblical view of love?
(II) The Bible’s View of Love: Quite contrary to the selfish, idolatrous lust that is described above, the bible teaches a completely different model of love. Love in the Bible is not based on emotion, it is not based on feeling. (Yes it does contain deep feeling and emotion, it is not a brick wall) but rather love is a choice. Love is an action. At its heart, love is giving, giving your desires, your will, and your life, for another. It is not something that completely controls you, rather you have mastery over it. It comes from real things, from concrete evidence of something that happens and it takes action. How did God show us what true love is? John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” God gave! Ephesians 5:25, “…just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Love give and gives and gives! Love gives first, not because it feels, the feelings will come, not because it wants something in return, because no return may happen, it gives because it makes an active choice to give, therefore making an active choice to love.
Love therefore affects all of Biblical Counseling. For the counselor love is displayed as he actively chooses to care for and understand the one whom he counsel’s. Because He is commanded by Christ to love, his love gives of his time, energy, and effort to see a fellow saint transformed into the image of Christ. For the counselee, love is something that must be taught. When struggling with love for another, or a wrong concept of love in his life, the person who receives counsel must be taught what biblical love is. They must re-orient their concept of love and be shown how to truly and biblically love others as Christ as loved them. In our next post on Biblical Counseling, I hope to talk more about the necessity of Love and how it plays out in practical ways for both the counselor, and the one whom he ministers the Word of God to.