When dependency reaches a point at which people are hurting themselves and do not know they need help, a guided intervention may be necessary. Intervention is an attempt to change an influencing force that is destroying a person’s well-being.
The principle of intervention is certainly not new since the Bible records interventions into the destructive behavior of many people. Genesis 3 gives an account of God’s first intervention with the first parents of the human race. After Adam and Eve’s act of disobedience, they needed a recovery program, and we have been in need of recovery since that time. When they hid themselves from God among the trees, He sought a conversation with them asking, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). God was keenly aware of their fallen condition and obviously knew their whereabouts, but He wanted a response from them. Through this intervention, God helped them see their condition, held them responsible for their actions, and provided a way out of their web of deception.
After David took Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, and then had Uriah murdered in an effort to cover up their sin, the Lord sent Nathan to intervene in David’s destructive course. Nathan sought a response by telling him about two men in a certain community: one was rich and the other was poor (see 2 Samuel 12). When a traveler came to the rich man for a meal, the rich man would not give him one of his own sheep. Instead, he took the only ewe lamb the poor man had, one that had grown up with his family, and prepared it for the traveler. After hearing the story, David responded with anger toward the rich man, suggesting his death. Nathan then said to David, “You are the man!” (v7). Nathan discussed the consequences of David’s behavior, and David acknowledged he had sinned against the Lord. The Lord used Nathan to conduct an intervention on David to help him see his sinful condition, its long-term consequences, his need for repentance, and how to get back on the track of recovery.
Showing guided level-by-level interventions, Jesus deals with the principle of restoration in Matthew 18:15-17. He begins with an early intervention: “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you” (v15). Early intervention should be done privately with careful confrontation based on observations (show him his faults), not with judgment and condemnation. This should be done soon after the fault has been observed to prevent delusion. If the brother in the wrong responds favorably, then the issue is over with and restoration accomplished.
If the brother does not respond to early intervention, he is probably in a state of delusion. The next step, intermediate intervention, is described in verse 16: “But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ ” There should be descriptive facts presented based on times, places, people affected, and so forth, as they relate specifically to the problem.
The third level of restoration is crisis intervention. “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector” (v17). At this level the church should already have a plan in place to assist this person if he is repentant and shows a willingness to receive help. If not, he should be made aware of the church’s continued love and compassion for him, but the church members will lovingly detach themselves from him until he shows evidence of wanting to change.
This principle of intervention shows three levels with people being added at each phase. All involved are people who are meaningful in his life. To prevent gossip, it is important to inform only those who need to know. The purpose of intervention is to help people, not tear them down.
How does the local church intervene when a person’s addictive behavior reaches a crisis stage? After the individual has been approached with early and intermediate intervention without success, who should be involved in the crisis intervention-the entire church body or just a few meaningful people in the person’s life? A crisis intervention should involve only meaningful people. Involving the entire local church body would probably include enablers, carnal Christians, and those who do not understand addictive behaviors which would hamper restoration.
Material from Understanding the Times and Knowing What to Do Copyright © 1991, 1997 by Turning Point Ministries All Rights Reserved