Whenever a diagnostic category begins to blinker us, or even to blind us to the many other things going on in a person’s life, we have mis-stepped. Our detailed engagement with a person’s problem won’t be a sign of sophisticated understanding. It may in fact be a sign that our thinking has become simplistic. We have reduced this person to their diagnosis and we have lost sight of all the other things – especially the spiritual realities – that are also true of them.
Here is sin that arises not from forgetfulness, nor from wilfulness, but from some kind of incapacity. That presents us with a rather different way of thinking about sin. Not our usual: ‘God expected one thing, I chose to do another and in this I committed sin’. But a much more nuanced failing that is more inability than iniquity.
How easy is it, for some of us, to assume that a piece of advice – or a thoughtful Bible study – that helped one person, is bound to help another? So, we whip it out, unthinkingly, hoping to play a trump card that solves the problem and sends the person away rejoicing in the Lord, so we can get on with our day.
Sometimes people get stuck. And sometimes those trying to help feel stuck as well. It is a frustrating experience for both when nothing seems to be changing. At such times, stepping back and taking a fresh look at everything is often the wise thing to do.
The Bible teaches us that real change is a matter of heart change. What we love or desire or fear has to be reorientated. The transformation from ‘bringing forth evil’ to ‘bringing forth good’ is not a matter of the right tools: it's a matter of the right treasure.