Taking the Initiative To Get Well

We have been considering the role and responsibility of the people we are trying to help. Their first step is to pray themselves. That should be the first item on the agenda for any child of God regardless of the situation they find themselves. In other words, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). When they pray, asking God to reveal to their minds the people they need to forgive, God does. When they pray, asking God to reveal to their minds every sexual use of their bodies as instruments of unrighteousness, God does. This approach places the issue to be resolved between God and His children. The role of encouragers is to help inquirers be reconciled with their loving Heavenly Father.

After the inquirer has turned to God in prayer, James then wrote, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:14). Notice that James instructs the sick to take the initiative. Why do you think that is the case? I don’t think we are ever going to see healthy, wholesome, and victorious Christians until they realize that to be so is their responsibility. Let me illustrate why that is the case.

Have you ever noticed that good health is not contagious? If you sat by or walked with the healthiest person alive, you would not become any healthier yourself by those acts alone. If you wanted to be healthy like that person, you would profit by learning how they eat, exercise, and rest, and then do accordingly. On the other hand, if you sat by or walked with a sick person you might catch some of their diseases.

The same is true spiritually. You can sit by or walk with some spiritual giant, but that alone would not make you more spiritual. If you learned to believe what they believe, and practice their spiritual disciplines, you will likely grow to be more like them in character. On the other hand, “Don’t be deceived; ‘Bad company ruins good morals’” (1 Cor. 15:33).

Our role as encouragers is not to be responsible for another person, but to help them assume their own responsibilities, and that begins by having a righteous relationship with God. I don’t know of any place in Scripture that instructs pastors to take the initiative to carry a bottle of olive oil into hospitals, uninvited, and anoint sick people who may or may not have a relationship with God. On the other hand, I always travel with a small bottle of olive oil, because I want to be prepared to pray for the person who is seeking God and His righteousness.

Dr. Neil

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