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December 18, 2023
January 18, 2024

Attending to Weakness

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38)

The flesh is weak. It's a painful yet kind truth that Jesus offers to Peter and us through these words. He doesn’t pretend like reality is different from what it is. He doesn’t build us up and tell us we're strong enough, good enough, and smart enough. Instead, He warns us of our frailty and the cost of not attending to it.

Have you ever wondered why having the right answer doesn’t seem to be enough? Why you can know the right thing to do and yet consistently find yourself unable to do it? Jesus tells us why—the flesh is weak. It turns out that knowing the right answer and living out the right answer are two extraordinarily different things.

During counseling, giving the right answers is easy. Helping someone submit to what's right is much more difficult. When we only evaluate whether our clients know the right answers and biblical passages that address their problems, we miss out on a holistic assessment. Instead, our primary assessment should orient around their connection to God and their spiritual vibrancy. In other words, are they sowing to the Spirit? Are they living a life that exhibits the fruit of the Spirit? Is their life structured in such a way that feeds the Spirit and starves the desires of the flesh?

A person who is sowing to the flesh cannot live according to the spirit. This is what Jesus warned the disciples about. He didn't rebuke them for ignorance but rather warned them about distorted discernment. When they fail to strengthen their spirit through watchfulness and prayer, their knowledge of what's right gets buried by the flesh.

This rings true for our clients. May we strive to help our clients assess and consider this reality—the right answer to their problem is useless if it's disconnected from faith-formed, spiritual health. Such spiritual health is the fertile soil needed for the seed of discernment to take root and grow. Without it, the seed will remain unfruitful.

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Andrew Dealy
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Austin Stone Counseling
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