Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Difficult Counselor

He shall be called Difficult Counselor...

Isaiah 9:6

We have to be fair.  If we're going to use "wonderful" in place of "difficult" in the story of Sarah, let's see if they can be exchanged in a descriptor of Jesus, since as we learned in our last post, they are the same word in Hebrew.

For those who have tasted of the goodness of God's grace and mercy, we quickly and clearly testify that He is a WONDERFUL Counselor.  His words bring healing.  His words bring peace.  His words transform every aspect of our lives.  He is wonderful and we want no other voice in our ears but His.

But it is also true that He is a DIFFICULT Counselor.  I would be lying if I did not agree that this statement is true.  But let me be clear on this - His counsel is difficult because of my sin nature.  My sin nature is incredibly self-focused and selfish.  I am totally self-conscious, as in completely conscious of what I want, what I need, what I think will make me happy and what I demand from myself and those around me.  That's my existence because of sin.  

Salvation defeats this nature and gives me a new identity.  My new identity is encapsulated in my Savior.  I want to be like Jesus, because He has given me life.  It's not my flesh that is now ruling my heart, but it's Jesus - He is alive in me and guess what, He's a pretty sacrificial guy.  He's giving and loving and patient and kind and merciful and honest and...well...it goes on and on.  And He's not sinful, fleshly or selfish.  So when my sin nature shows up, and trust me, it does, His counsel is right in my face, telling me to deny my natural tendencies and follow Him.

Therein lies the rub.  This is why He is a DIFFICULT Counselor.  His words can be hard to hear, almost like the one on top of the mountain, instructing the struggling climber on what to do next.  But like that instructor, He's been there and He knows.  So listening and acting on His counsel, while it may be hard, it is the right thing to do, the best thing to do, the most rewarding and the most Christlike way to live.  

What are some of the hard things Jesus says as our Counselor?  Glad you asked. Here's a list from one sermon found in Matthew:
  • Anger is murder - 5:21
  • Don't offer anything to the Lord with outstanding issues - go reconcile first -5:23,24
  • Lust is adultery - 5:27
  • Radically amputate whatever causes you to sin - 5:29,30
  • Divorce can lead to adultery in the sight of God - 5:32
  • Be a man of your word - 5:33-37
  • Turn the other cheek, be generous with your enemy- 5:39-42
  • Sacrificially love your enemies - 5:44
  • Give quietly - 6:1-4
  • Be sincere in your prayers - 6:7
  • Be a fantastic forgiver - 6:14,15
  • Fast privately - 6:17,18
  • Serve Jesus, not money - live with an eternal perspective - 6:19-24
  • Do not be worried - 6:25
  • Seek God first in all things - 6:33
  • Don't be judgmental - 7:5
  • Be careful with the gospel - 7:6
  • Pray sincerely - know your Father well - 7:7-11
  • Treat people how you want to be treated - 7:12
  • Be a fruit producer, a fruit inspector and take your calling seriously - 7:13-27

Looking at the list, you might think what He tells us to do isn't that hard.  That tells me that you are not dangling on the line right now.  But you will be and when you are hanging there, struggling, thinking there's no way out of your predicament, your best option is to stop wrestling with your flesh and just do what He says.  Remember, He is not only a difficult counselor but a wonderful one!

As you head into the Christmas holiday, may the words of the old prophet Isaiah ring true in your heart...

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