October 19, 2010

Confronting Others and Ourselves

There are certain times during your walk with Jesus Christ when your understanding of The Bible is tested.  One of these tests is when you feel it is necessary to confront someone you know about sin.  In this post I am speaking about confronting a fellow Christian about a sin that has come to your attention.  

Confrontation.  This is something that everyone dislikes.  Confronting others is draining, nerve-wrecking, and many times frustrating.  This is partly due to the fact that we are all sinners and will never be completely free of sin until we die. So everything about us is affected.  Our relationship with God is affected by our sin, our relationship with others is affected by our sin, and even the way we view ourselves is affected by our sin.  

So the first thing we should do when we feel it necessary to confront someone is to study our personal motivations for doing so.  Galations 6:3 says, " For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves." God does not have favorite Christians.  The Bible states that Jesus Christ died for everyone because, " ... all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23. The danger is for the confronter to have a prideful attitude, a "greater than thou" mentality. This can very easily happen without our noticing.  We see sin and dislike the sin and begin comparing that sin to our sins. And suddenly we believe, no matter how minutely, that we are better than someone else's sin and based on that ground we confront them about what they're doing.  This is wrong.

What kind of attitude are we suppose to have when we see sin and believe it must be dealt with?

" My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.  Take care that you yourselves are not tempted."  Galations 6:1

A spirit of gentleness is only possible when we are humble.  This humbleness is only possible through the strength of God.  We have to realize that we have sin God forgives on a daily basis.  So being humble means we understand the grace God showers on us at any given moment.  It also means that we do not think of ourselves better than the person we are going to confront.

James 5:9 says, "Don't grumble about each other brothers. Are you yourselves above criticism? For see!  The great judge is coming. He is almost here.  Let Him do whatever criticizing must be done."

And the word of God is so wise.  He knows that people respond better to folks who really care about them verses people who are just pointing out everything they do wrong.  People can sense whether you are speaking to them as an equal or not. 

Now speaking to someone in love and gentleness does not mean that you agree with their sin or that you lessen the seriousness of their sin.  So we have to also be careful not to be fearful or intimidated when speaking the truth.

" For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline."  II Timothy 1:7

When we confront someone with respect and love God can work better through us.  It means that we will be entering the situation with a humble attitude and that we will be sensitive to the words that come out of our mouths.  But this takes practice and patience.  It is wise to seek counsel from mature Christians about what we plan to do. So that they can pray with us and for us and hold us accountable to our actions before and after.

But here can be another potential hazard.  The temptation to gossip.  When we seek wise counsel it is not so that we can cut down and ruthlessly criticize the individual we will confront.  We should only share what is necessary to convey the situation.  Gossip is a very hurtful thing to do and almost always finds its way back to you.  So unless you are okay with the idea of others doing the same in regards to yourself, don't gossip.  In fact, don't gossip because God warns against it.

" A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man ( or woman) who talks too much." Proverbs 20:19

" The mouths of fools are their ruin, and their lips a snare to themselves." Proverbs 18:7

But if we obey the Lord and watch what we say and think about why we say it He promises the following:

" Those who guard their tongues keep themselves from calamity."  Proverbs 21:23

Sounds good to me!  So confronting someone about sin does take a little-bit of planning.  Never confront someone in the heat of your emotions.  It never ends well.  Instead, follow what the Bible teaches.  

Now if you approach a fellow believer about sin and they do not listen or change their ways, God gives us instructions on what to do next.  Remember the idea is to restore the individual back to a close relationship with God and fellow Christians.

Here is what God has to say: 

" If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 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.  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 tax collector."  Matthew 18: 15-17

Now God is not saying that everyone who works in taxes is evil or that the sin you confront must have been done to you directly.  But He is saying that if you know someone very well and you know they are doing something that is clearly against God's will you have a responsibility to confront them about it. 

This does not mean that you " pass the buck" along to another friend, or relative, or pastor, or counselor. YOU must confront the individual first and in private.  Please don't wait!  The longer sin has to dwell in someone's life the more difficult it will be to stop.  And sin is like an infection.  It is contagious and it will spread.

" If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.  It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire." Matthew 18:8

" Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?" I Corinthians 5: 6

" But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother (or sister), who is a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, not even to eat with such a person."  I Corinthians 5: 11

Now it does, at first glance, seem extreme to be so harsh against unrepentant sin.  But remember that God says the body of Christ, the Christians that make up the church, were bought with a price.  We do not belong to ourselves anymore!  God owns us.  We must obey what He instructs us to do with His own property.

And we must also remember that if the individual we confront is a believer than all of this is to help them overcome sin.

" ... so that the sinful nature might be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord."
I Corinthians 5:5

Confrontation is not easy but remember the following: " Jesus looked at them and said, ' With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'"  Matthew 19:26 

Do not be discouraged!  God has promised to be with you.

" Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

May God be with you as you go through this week. And may you continue to live for Christ and shine as the light in darkness you were created to be.


Anonymous said...

That is quite an exposition on the subject. Are you a bible scholar?


Mr. LGS: Maybe one day. :) But I do like to share what I have learned from experience. When I was looking for advice on how to confront someone it took a lot of effort to find all of the information I have shared.

So I thought it would be nice to put it all in one place so that it might help someone else one day. :)