The Bible assumes that we will help each other walk in faithfulness (for example, 1 Thess. 5:12-22). That process includes confronting others when necessary (Matt. 18:15-20). Many of us, though, aren't very willing to confront a brother or sister in sin. Read these reasons for this reticence, and consider what you'd do to overcome them:
- We've never seen confrontation handled well. Maybe, in fact, we've never seen it handled at all. If we have, it may have been done so poorly that we don't want any part of the task.
- We misunderstand what "Do not judge, so that you won't be judged" (Matt. 7:1) means. If we assume it means we are never to help a Christian check his or her heart, we misread the text. Righteous, humble confrontation is quite different from arrogant judgmentalism.
- We have sin in our own lives. We all do—and we don't usually want anyone to confront us, so we choose not to confront others. We don't deal with the log in our own eye or the speck in others' eyes (Matt. 7:3). That way, everyone maintains some kind of "peace."
- We've heard "grace" unintentionally defined as "live as you wish, then ask God's forgiveness." That kind of grace avoids confrontation, for no one is calling anyone to godliness. Grace makes sense only when we understand God's holiness and His perfect standards.
- We're afraid of losing church members. Actually, we might lose members even if we confront biblically and humbly—so this concern is a real one. Not confronting, though, is not a way to grow a strong, God-centered church.
- We bear scars of continual confrontation in our early years. If all you've known is others who continually confront you about your wrong, you don't always want to pass along the same kind of spirit toward others. You want to break the patterns, so you swing the pendulum too far in the other direction.
- Confrontation is simply uncomfortable in general. After all, who wants to point out wrong in somebody's life? Doing that sounds both arrogant and judgmental, we think—and Jesus would not want us to be either one.
- We're afraid of being legalistic. I understand this one, as I was once an often legalistic, sometimes mean pastor. I don't want to go back there, so I have to check my heart any time I sense a need to confront someone.
- We don't want to lose a friend. And, that's always a possibility when we confront someone we care about. The cost could be more than we want to pay—so we choose not to do it.
- We have little sense of the corporate, life-on-life nature of New Testament Christianity. Instead, we sometimes live by, "I'll do what's best for me, and you can do what's best for you." Our individualism gets in the way of our Christianity.
What other reasons would you add to this list? Why do you struggle with confrontation, if you do?
Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
This article originally appeared at chucklawless.com.
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