Therapy, Theology, and the Teacher

Whenever a congregation gathers together, you have a great collection of hurts and sorrows.
Gathered in God’s presence are those who sorrow for a loved one who has passed on, or who have been hit with divorce proceedings. One person will have lost a job, while another has been stung by criticism. Pain and fear are a part of life.
And the Bible has a lot of good advice on how to live. Frequently a wise word from the Proverbs, or Paul, will assist the Christian in learning to handle problem relationships, or overcome anxiety.
“A heart at peace gives life to the body,” the wise man says, “but envy rots the bones” (Proverbs 14:30). Good advice for those who don’t realize that resentment and jealousy hurt not only the object of the envy, but the one who is envious, too!
Paul tells us to “test everything, hold on to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21), and he’s right. Don’t swallow someone’s slick sales talk. Don’t fall for the latest fad. Analyze the facts, think before you act on a proposal. Good advice, once again.
“Therefore,” the Teacher says, “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). More good advice. Live one day at a time. Take life and its problems in manageable, digestible chunks. More than that would be overwhelming.
So there is a sense in which the Bible is good therapy. Its advice can help us overcome anxiety, make our marriages stronger, and heal the wounds life inflicts on us. This should not surprise us. Scripture is authored by the God who loves and understands us completely. It makes sense that his advice for living would be sound, and, well, therapeutic.
But the Bible is more than good therapy. It does more than offer good advice. The Gospel seeks to save. The best therapy that money can buy is no substitute for being saved from sin and becoming a follower of Jesus. The therapist can help us overcome our guilt feelings, but only Jesus can take that guilt away. It is called forgiveness, and it took place, not on a couch but on the cross. By all means learn from the wisdom of our Father when he offers his loving, caring advice on life. But remember that healing only really begins with salvation in Christ.
“For the son of man came to seek and save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).
And the wonder of it all is that this “Salvation Therapy” is free!

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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