There are two ways to get medicine. The first is from a pharmacist. I call in my prescription, the pharmacist counts out the pills, places them in a bottle, and hands the bottle to me, no questions asked. Pharmacists rarely ask about symptoms, medical history, or current medications. It’s not their job. To put it simply (and I’m sure this is oversimplifying), they fill prescriptions.
The second way to get medicine is to go to a doctor. Going to a doctor is a vastly different experience. A good doctor asks me questions about my symptoms. He explores my past medical history. He asks me what medicines I’ve taken in the past. He asks about the medical history of my family members. He feels my limbs and muscles. A good doctor spends a significant amount of time listening before he actually dispenses any medicine.
Too often I’m a Bible pharmacist when I should be a Bible doctor.
A friend comes to me and tells me he’s having trouble trusting God. I turn to my Bible dispensary, pull out my Romans 8:28 pill, and tell him to take it twice daily for three weeks. That should take care of all the symptoms. Very few questions, very little dialog, way too many assumptions. The problem with my approach is that people can’t be easily categorized and the Bible is not one size fits all.
1 Thessalonians 5:14 says: And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
This implies that we must minister to people in different ways depending on their spiritual condition. We can’t simply slap a verse on a person. We need to understand and sympathize with their spiritual condition before we can effectively minister to others. We need to be Bible doctors.
If I’m going to truly help my friend I need to spend a lot of time listening, exploring, and understanding. I need to know some things before I can effectively “prescribe” the Bible. Does he need to admonished out of his unbelief? There are scriptures for that. Does he need to be encouraged in the midst of his faintheartedness? There are different scriptures for that. Does he need to be helped in his weakness. There are different scriptures for that. I would be an idiot to prescribe Pepto Bismol for a migraine headache, yet so often we “prescribe” scriptures without fully listening and understanding.
By God’s grace, I want to grow in being a better Bible doctor. I want to learn from the Great Physician. Too often I’m quick to speak and slow to listen, quick to dispense and slow to diagnose. I need to stop being a Bible pharmacist and start being a Bible doctor.