We all have moments in our life when we need to confide in someone. When you have a personal crisis, why do you choose the person you do? The person in whom we confide (our confidant) becomes very influential in shaping us. What our best friend tells us shapes how we interpret those harsh words that someone used against us. The advice of our confidant will often become our own decision on what to do now. Our entire life’s direction can be changed, just because we were advised to ignore, respond, move on, or fight back. As Christians, we are called by God not only to seek godly counsel, but to also provide godly counsel.
The Apostle Paul describes the kind of person we want to have as our “Christian Confidant.” In Romans 15:14, “Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.” (NKJV) This Christian apostle is confident about his fellow Christians in Rome. Why is he confident? Because they are qualified confidants. Are you and I also confident in our confidants?
The first qualification mentioned is that they are his “brethren.” Christians can certainly have relationships with unbelievers, and we are called to evangelize them. Yet our confidants in whom we trust and share our deepest needs, concerns, and sorrows—these must be fellow Christians.
The next qualification we should be looking for in another (and seeking to meet ourselves!) is someone “full of goodness.” A good friend is always good to you. We crave that good word from our confidant, that reaffirmation that we did nothing wrong, or that everything will be ok. A good friend will pray for us and with us. A good friend will ALSO be good to us by following God’s definition of goodness. A good friend will not let us wallow in pity, or spread slander or gossip. “ 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Proverbs 27:6)
A third qualification is that our confidant is “filled with all knowledge.” We shouldn’t think this means a person knows EVERYTHING. They do need to know SOMETHING, especially on the issue we are discussing, or at least on how to respond to our crisis. Knowing the verb tense of “filled” is helpful. The Greek grammar indicates that the person has already been filled with knowledge for sometime, and they did more than get an “A” in catechism class. They have continued to use and apply that knowledge throughout their life. It would be foolish to ask a bankrupt person for financial advice. It would also be foolish, generally speaking, to seek marriage advice from someone who was unbiblically divorced. Rather, we ought to seek counsel from those who are filled with, and still filled with, the knowledge of the daily struggles to fight against sin and fight for their marriage relationship.
The last qualification listed by Paul in this verse is that our confidant is “able to admonish.” Admonish is a translation of the Greek word that describes the counseling perspective that most RCUS pastors have learned in seminary: “Nouthetic Counseling.” The point of “admonish” is to counsel, and even warn, someone about their behavior. While pastors and elders are the God-ordained officers equipped with the Holy Spirit to do such adminishing, the Bible also indicates that all Christians are to strive toward this ability to admonish. Colossians 3:16 describes the general duty of all believers to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Furthermore, in our text in Romans 15:14 Paul had confidence that the believers in Rome were able to admonish one another. They did not require an apostle to be ‘on site’ every day to handle any problems that arose in the church.
We should notice there is a difference between being “able to admonish” and being “able to argue.” God does not call us to be argumentative, or to look for every chance to bark orders at another Christian who crosses the line. How would we grow in being able to admonish, then? By holding all these qualifications simultaneously.
I am able to admonish because I remember the person I am warning is “my brother” or “sister” in Christ. They are not some unbeliever or heretic, just because they are ensnared in sin or struggling with a temptation or doubt. I am able to admonish when I remember to season all my words with the sweetness of goodness. I am looking for that which is noble and honorable and worth saying and worth dwelling upon. I am able to admonish as I personally keep growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ. I “have been filled” in the past and continue to “be filled” with the knowledge of God’s Word and how to apply it. That is a Christian Confidant. ~ Rev. Kyle A. Sorensen, Manitowoc, Wisconsin