Believe it or not, confronting can be done in love, AND it can be done without feeling like “confrontation”! We are told to “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15) but most of the time we end up being heavy-handed on one or the other. Most of the time we either avoid confrontation in the name of “love” (usually because we don’t want to get involved or we are fearful of the person’s reaction), or we confront too strongly in the name of “truth”. We need to learn to be balanced and be grounded in a right understanding of truth with humility and love. Your goal in confrontation is not to win your viewpoint; rather it is to win your brother/sister. Your goal is to grow closer to the person, not push them further away. Unfortunately often in confronting someone we end up doing the latter.
“A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.” - Prov 18:19
How can we avoid this? First of all it’s important to consider the situation from another perspective, not just your own; sometimes we can be blindsided by our own point of view. Perhaps we were offended because we took it too personally. Take a step back from the situation and consider whether or not you are being overly sensitive. Is it really that big of a deal? Also, remember that the vast majority of the time what we need to do is cover the offense. If it’s not a sin issue or something that is really affecting the relationship than for the sake of love, we need to put it aside. We need to learn to cover well and love others despite disagreements.
“The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.” - Prov 19:11
However, there are times when there is something that we believe is sinful or something that is hindering the relationship. As we consider the idea of confronting the other person we first need to deal with our own hearts. Oh our hearts are so deceitful. We think we know so much. Let me give you a few cautions:
-beware of your assumptions! We very quickly assume we know what the other person meant, how they are feeling, what exactly they’re thinking….. hmm yeah, we don’t! “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.” (Prov 18:13)
-beware of your pride. Humility is so, SO crucial! If you think you’re humble enough, wait awhile longer, you’re probably not. “By pride comes nothing but strife…” (Prov 13:10)
-beware of your feelings. Many times we confront because we were personally offended. But this cannot be about you! We cannot be motivated out of personal feelings, offense or resentment. “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.” (Prov 29:11) & “A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart.” (Prov 18:2)
-beware of your attitude. Gentleness is another crucial characteristic that we need to exercise in this process. Gentleness means that we use the least amount of force necessary. It is caution and quietness.“By long forbearance a ruler is persuaded, and a gentle tongue breaks a bone.” (Prov 25:15)
In summary, spend time in prayer about the situation. Prayer is important as it helps to orient you correctly to God, and the reality that you need His help! In prayer you ask the Lord to guide you and to work growth and change in you, not just in the other person. Ask the Lord to humble you, to reveal anything in you that needs to change. The ultimate goal is to glorify God and then to win your brother/sister to greater growth in Christ.
In a follow-up post I will give 10 ways Alistair Groves gave on how to confront in love.