Last week in my post, “Beyond Forgiveness,” I argued that when conflict arises between Christians, that our aim should be— not just to forgive— but to be reconciled with our brothers and sisters in Christ. One of the necessary steps in reconciliation is confrontation, which seems to be avoided like the plague in most local churches. Confrontation is uncomfortable, and at times, down right difficult; yet, it is an unavoidable step in the process of reconciliation (Matthew 18:15)
Here are five steps to making confrontation more bearable AND God-glorifying:
1. Go Prayerfully: We must guard from approaching others with the wrong attitude or with motives that are amiss. This is best accomplished through prayer. Philippians 4:6 says, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Pray for wisdom, pray for the other person, and pray for God to be glorified through the situation.
2. Go Quickly: Wait long enough to pray, but not so long as to let bitterness take hold. Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger…” ! If you had a deep gash in your arm I would never tell you “give it time.” I would say, “get to the ER now!” Time does NOT heal when it comes to confrontation. Verse 27 of Ephesians 4 goes on to say: “and give no opportunity to the devil.” The only part of confrontation I have ever regretted, is not doing it sooner.
3. God Gave You Two Ears and One Mouth— Use Them Proportionally: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;” (James 1:19). Assumption is not our friend. Resist the temptation to approach another believer in an accusatory manner. Don’t go in with guns blazing; simply start by listening.
4. Believe the Best in the Other Person: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:7). Part of believing all things and hoping all things is believing the best in people. When going into the meeting with another Christian who has offended you, give them the benefit of the doubt. Most offenses are misunderstandings.
5. Speak the Truth in Love: The biggest issue I see in the local church with meetings geared towards reconciliation, is that one or both parties fail to be completely truthful; offenses are sugar-coated. If someone has hurt you, please tell them the truth— don’t water it down. Honesty can sting, but it is necessary if reconciliation is to happen. Speak the truth with right motives and in a loving way— but speak it, nonetheless.
What Will You Do?
I hope these steps help in dealing with offenses. May we learn to handle these situations in a Biblical, God-honoring way. Remember, love demands confrontation!