"Simon Peter replied, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' And Jesus answered him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.'” (Matthew 16:16-17 ESV)
We only get the right answer by the grace of God. It’s not by our wisdom, will, or work that we are able to see clearly what is true, but simply by the loving intervention of God. And yet, seeing what is true in a moment doesn’t necessarily add up to much. Even in this case, Peter’s God-gifted right answer lasted only five verses before he was called Satan for trying to rebuke the Son of God. In other words, what Peter had right for a moment didn’t last very long or change a whole lot.
There are two truths from this passage that are particularly important for us as counselors to see and hold onto.
First of all, our clients' understanding of the true nature of their difficulties and their heart’s response is only by the grace of God. May we be careful as our clients gain insight to ensure they see it as God’s grace alone. May we be wary of giving God’s glory to ourselves or to our clients by neglecting to articulate that any progress we make is first and foremost possible because God has made it so. Along with this, may we be patient with our clients knowing that understanding spiritual truths requires God’s intervention. Our best words and counsel are not enough. God must move in our clients and give them spiritual eyes to see and receive what they most need.
Secondly, a momentary insight, though wonderful, doesn’t guarantee much. Just like Peter, we can all find ourselves spouting beautiful truths of God’s goodness and glory only to find ourselves minutes later living like God doesn’t exist. Though we should, as Jesus did with Peter, celebrate God-given insight, we must also exhort our clients that insight without application will be insufficient for lasting change. Insight shines a light on the right path, but we get nowhere if we don’t lift our foot in faith and move forward.
So, may we pray that God would grant godly insight to us and our clients. May we celebrate when the spark of truth shines anew in the eyes of our clients. May we encourage our clients that they could only glimpse such beautiful truths by the gift of God’s light. And may we encourage them to steward their insight by allowing it to reshape how they navigate their present and future difficulties.