Today, as I was cleaning the refrigerator and because of my lack of care, I dropped an egg. I watched the egg fall, then shatter and splatter it contents – it was a mess. Once the egg fell, there was nothing that I could do – it was doomed to be destroyed. This is exactly like our relationships. When we fail to use care in our relationships, they often are shattered and destroyed.
1 Peter 3:8-9 tells us to be in harmony with each other by being sympathetic, loving, tender and humble. It tells us to not repay evil with evil or revile with reviling for this is what God called us to do. To sum it up in one word – be merciful. So, does this mean that we should never ever confront one another? After all, the Bible does say judge not, lest you be judged.
To answer this question, we must always look through a lens that views the Bible in its entirety – the big picture. This protects us from clinging to one verse and applying it out of context. The Bible clearly teaches that we are to judge but carefully consider whether or not we are judging using God’s definition of sin. We must never judge using our self-righteous definition of sin.
Part of biblical fellowship requires admonishment of one another but there are attitudes which must be critically considered before you attempt to correct another person. First you must:
>Examine your own heart and life. Be brutal with your own sin. Your log may be blocking your view.
>Examine whether your desire to confront, stems out of being overly concerned about an offense against yourself. If you are more concerned about yourself than restoring the other person, your motives are not right.
>Examine whether or not the offense is considered to be sin by the standards of God’s Word.
>Examine whether or not you are enjoying their sin.
>Examine whether or not the sin or weakness is destructive to self or others.
>Examine whether or not this is a one-time offense or a pattern in the person’s life.
>Examine whether or not this offense can be overlooked.
>Examine whether or not you have a relationship with this person. Without relationship, your message will not be well received.
Now, after this examination, if you believe that you must confront, how should this be done? Think in terms of truth and love – never anger. Too many people confront others with only truth. Without the accompaniment of love, the message will not be received well and they will leave feeling misunderstood and alienated. Your goal in confronting, should always be reconciliation with God and if necessary, with you. For possible reconciliation to occur, your message must be seasoned with humility, patience and mercy in both your words and attitudes. You must communicate that you understand that you are a sinner in need of grace too. Offer your concern as a possibility, not a conclusion. Assure them that you realize that you may be incorrect and that they are accountable only to God. The other person should be able to feel compassion and understanding from you. Many times, drawing a person out with questions is an excellent way to reach them. Your method should testify to God’s power in your life.
Many times, even though we have confronted correctly, the other person may get angry and defensive. Remember, you are not God or His Holy Spirit. Allow God to do His work of conviction. Your responsibility is to provide words that communicate grace and let God do the rest.
Now, if someone confronts you, don’t dismiss it. Go to God. If you would also like to ask others, carefully choose individuals that you know will be honest and trustworthy. Don’t go into justification mode. Don’t get angry. Try to see the blessing in it and the courage that it took for the person to confront you. Really consider if any of what was said is true and then take action to correct it.
To summarize, recognize that we all lean toward self-righteousness. Examine yourself thoroughly for self-righteous attitudes. Determine whether or not the offense is a biblically defined sin. Determine whether or not this is a one-time offense or a pattern of sin. Consider whether or not it can be overlooked. Use words and attitudes that communicate truth with love, humility, understanding, patience and mercy. Do not attempt to make them accountable to you.
Be encouraged – it is possible to restore and be restored. It is possible that relationships not only remain intact but actually become stronger.