When “Just Stop It” Doesn’t Help
First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:5
In church recently, I listened as an individual spoke honestly of a painful personal struggle and shared the life lessons God taught through that struggle. I quickly realized that this person was uniquely equipped to help others who shared the same life problem. Because this particular trial wasn’t something I’ve experienced much of, I simply would never be as capable as this individual in helping others with the same issue.
When I first sought help with my addiction, I failed to go to those who knew and understood addiction. I went initially to those in church who had lived pretty good lives and had not failed as I had. Just stop it. Quit using drugs. They meant well, but this wasn’t helpful. I was already aware of my desperate need for change. I needed to know how to change, and Just stop it, wasn’t constructive advice.
I finally found the help I needed in meeting with those who had gone before me in recovery. Those who knew my struggle and those who had been there were much better equipped to help me than those who had never known addiction.
Hidden in today’s passage on hypocrisy is this principle: The one who has struggled with an issue is particularly equipped to help others who struggle similarly. If I’m wrestling with some destructive behavior, I must allow God to use those who’ve known the struggle to help me, and then I must use my life experience to help those still struggling.
Those who don’t know the struggle will often offer unhelpful advice, because they don’t get it. Why would you be so dumb. Just stop. That’s often what I think when I encounter a life problem that’s foreign to me. When it comes to addiction though, I know, because I’ve been there.
This may be one of the most powerful things we can say to someone still enslaved to the struggle: I know what you’re going through because I’ve been through it. If we’re still addicted and enslaved, we’re not much help, but once we’ve found recovery, faith, and life, then we must use our experience to turn and help those still suffering in the struggle.