I once saw a cartoon about 1 session treatment (due to managed care) that consisted of the therapist slapping the client and saying, “Get over it!” This past weekend I had our counseling students look at the book of James. There are 50 some exhortation in just over 100 verses. And though he is writing to fellow believers he sometimes calls them brothers and others times calls them names.
What’s his beef? Empty words. Christians who talk the talk but do not engage in mercy; those who talk the talk but listen to the wisdom of the world about self-promotion. Why does he do this? He wants us to be discontent with the status quo. He wants to wake us from a slumber. While he does remind his readers that the Word is powerful and its implantation in them saves them, he wants them not to be content with being like the world.
James asks us whether we really do love mercy first. It will show if we do. If we don’t, then how we handle conflict with also reveal what we love.
Its good to sit with passages such as these that do not bring immediate comfort. They cause us to consider what the Lord might be saying to us. As a counselor, it is important to allow clients to consider hard truths in a loving environment–without providing a quick, “there, there, its all right.” However, we must also make sure that we love mercy when we sit with our client in difficult areas. Otherwise, we will be in danger of letting our own tongues start fires.