Back view of couple comforting one another

Comfort: The Second Element Of How Jesus Would Do Christian Counseling

Counseling in Four Perspectives (continued)

The four elements of this framework are commendation, comfort, conviction, and challenge. This is not a formula for counseling. Though I will present these components in an order, there’s no strict progression. Each conversation may have a different combination of these four elements, or may focus on only one or two of the four. These four elements are not so much a pattern or a formula as a multifaceted perspective by which to view the counseling task. Each counseling client needs to experience God’s love and peace through the counseling process.

That sort of flexibility is exactly what we see in Christ’s counsel to the churches. Two of the seven letters lack any words designed to convict (Smyrna and Philadelphia). Wiith other churches (Sardis and Laodicea), Christ leans hard on convicting language and nearly eliminates commendation. Why the variability? Because the particulars of the situations vary. It’s often when we as counselors either rely too much on specific methods, or we try too hard to force one particular element.. We can become slaves to our own comfort or pride rather than servants of Christ.

2. Comfort

The second component of this framework is comfort. By comfort, I mean finding appropriate words that bring peace, relief, and consolation. Comfort is especially fitting when we speak to the suffering, but even in situations where others need conviction. it is not uncommon that, without first receiving some amount of comfort, they will not be able to hear the conviction. Rather than hearing the one thing we think they so desperately need, they will hear nothing at all.

Back view of two people comforting one another

Notice how Christ gives his suffering church in Philadelphia words of comfort. Before he exhorts them, he comforts them with the coming public recognition of his love for them and his promise that they will be spared a future trial.

“Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie — behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.”

Revelation 3:9-10 NIV

Comfort Requires Understanding

Offering the comfort of God’s word requires genuinely understanding what is causing another person pain and applying God’s specific promises. The glorious assurance of Romans 8:28 will comfort many, yet some will need to know the comfort of fellowship — that not only they but the whole of creation groans with pain (Romans 8:22).

Others will need the comfort of an active God of protection: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Still others will need the comfort of a God of forgiveness, in whose Son there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1).

And yet others will need the reassurance that their suffering is not in vain, and that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). All of this comfort comes from a single chapter of Scripture! And God has so much more to give.

Comfort = Sympathy + Action

True Christian comfort combines sympathy and action, not settling for one without the other. The dark side of comfort is that it can become an all-too-comfortable trap. The willingness to endlessly sympathize and pacify without the ability to convict or challenge allows sin to fester, slowly choking o


Portions of this posting are excerpts from an article by Josh Squires, found at

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