The Problem with Spiritual Grenades


I recently finished re-reading “Instruments in the Redeemers Hands” by Paul David Tripp. This is a book I’ve read at least three times, and still learn something new each time. What struck me during the most recent reading of the danger of using what he calls “spiritual grenades.”

Paul Tripp describes “lobbing spiritual grenades” as looking for Scripture passages that deal with a persons particular problem or issue, and then using those to encourage them to change. The problem with this is we often take those verses out of their larger context.

Instead of using the Bible like an “encyclopedia” by looking upon verses on a particular subject, Tripp encourages us to focus on the major themes, or doctrines of Scripture. These larger principles will take the individuals eyes off their situation, and put them on God.

Practically this made me think how many times in ministry I put a band-aid on a problem by dealing with the external issues or symptoms of a deeper sin problem, instead of dealing with the core issue with the foundational truths of Scripture. It is easier to throw out a few spiritual grenades and go on your way, but for true healing to take place, you must Biblically deal with the real problem.

Yesterday someone who I visit and read Scripture with called me extremely upset about some things that were happening. I came over so we could talk about it, and spent about an hour on the porch mostly letting my friend talk, and asking questions while making direct eye contact.

The initial problem was a disrespectful grand-daughter, but as I listened and asked questions the layers of the problem began to peel away.

  • There was frustration with a daughter who never wanted to communicate
  • Whenever my friend would say no to the grandchildren, they would always call their mother, and she would give them permission
  • For years the grandkids had been cared for by my friend while their mother was working on another island…but now all of that help was forgotten
  • It was incredibly frustrating after making sure that the children went to church every week, now the daughter had no interest in sending her children to church

Towards the end of our time it became clear the real problem wasn’t the grand-daughter, but a daughter who treated her parent like “a child” (she said this multiple times).

Before leaving I was able to remind my friend that Scripture teaches us we are only responsible for ourselves. After training children in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord” its the parents job to warn, but then allow them to go their own way if the choose. But a child choosing not to obey the Lord or submit to their parents did not mean the parent had failed (I personally believe this was the core issue…the daughters disrespect Brough feelings of shame.)

It would have been easy to throw out a few Scripture verses about children obeying parents but I would have missed the real point. Its only after about forty-five minutes of careful listening that her true heart issue came to light.

Yesterday was encouraging because I was able to apply Scripture to her core problem. because it was also convicting because the Lord reminded me how many times I chose to use a “spiritual grenade” or bandaid instead of listening, understanding the problem, and dealing with it Scripturally.


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