Caring Enough to Confront
Most people shy away from confrontation because it’s painful for both parties. It is easier to ignore an offense than to rock the boat and create waves, which supposedly is going to drown everyone. Most people presume that the best way to maintain peace is not to confront. Nevertheless, the wrong way to attain peace only drives people to pieces. As the saying goes, ‘No pain, no gain’, confrontation may be unpleasant, but the result can be sweeter if it is done correctly.
If you are a perfectionist, you will probably find fault in everyone and everything, yet not everyone and every issue needs confrontation. If you pick on people often, you probably are not going to be very effective, as it will drain your energy, plus people will take your attitude of confrontation for granted, by turning a deaf ear or by not responding appropriately. Therefore, it’s essential that you choose your battles carefully. You need to determine which issues you can let go, and issues that are of utmost importance.
The noteworthy thing is to confront yourself before you confront others, that way you can be sure of your motive to confront. Do not confront people if your motive is to get even with them. Confrontation should always be done for the good of the offender as well as the victim, it should be done with a motive to challenge people to change their inappropriate behaviour, leading them to repentance and reconciliation. While confronting, one should clearly address the offense. Nevertheless, it should be done with gentleness so as to attain reconciliation with the offender. Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted (Galatians 6:1 ESV).
Confront basically means to come face to face with someone with argumentative intent. The best way to confront someone is in person rather than on the phone or through emails or letters. However, it may not be possible to always have a face to face confrontation. Paul confronted Peter face to face, because of his hypocrisy in dealing with the Jews and the gentiles. When Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong (Galatians 2:11 NLT).
It is God’s will for us to speak the truth in love. When you hesitate to tell people that they are wrong, you are only encouraging them to continue the wrong path. If you always have the tendency to bail out others when they have misbehaved, you do not allow them to face the consequences of their wrong decisions and learn from their mistakes. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin (James 4:17 ESV).
Many times, people are not conscious of their wrong doing. At times, they have become hardened to sin and insensitive to righteousness. Unless, someone points to them their fault, they will continue in iniquity. Nathan confronted David of his unrighteousness and David realising his fault repented of his sins. God confronts his people of their sins and leads them into righteousness for their own good. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent (Revelation 3:19 NIV).
It is important that God’s people confront others of their wrong doings. It is equally important to do it the right way. Any offense always carries with it hurt, bitterness, anger and regret. It is essential to deal with any bitterness and anger, before you confront anyone, as the purpose of confrontation is to encourage positive change in the offender. God calls us to forgive others of their trespasses, and confrontation gives us the opportunity to bring about reconciliation by openly discussing the offense and coming to an agreement and restoring the relationship.
If you lack courage, pray and ask the Lord to strengthen you. Pray also, for wisdom to choose the correct time and words to reach out to others, and to be the light of truth, that shines in the midst of darkness. You are called to be ‘salt of the earth’, therefore confront with humility, yet with bravery, knowing that salt is not pleasant, especially when it is rubbed on the wounds. However, it is necessary to ward off infections and bring healing and restoration.
The purpose of confrontation is to address the wrong doings and bring about the correct change in others. However, people may refuse to acknowledge, repent, reconcile or change their wrong behaviour. In such cases prayerfully discern about the correct way to address the issue. It could be setting up boundaries, limiting interactions, or breaking off friendship, depending on the severity of the offence. “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they 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 they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector (Matthew 18: 15-17 NIV).
We have a responsibility to speak the truth in love, when people listen and change their behaviour, you have won them over. If they do not listen, then you have the responsibility to forgive them anyway. God always wants us to forgive others. However, forgiveness does not mean reconciliation. In cases where the offender refuses to change their spiteful behaviour, reconciliation is not possible. Forgiveness is given for past offenses, it does not mean that when you forgive, you give the offender the right to hurt you again. When Jesus forgave people, he said to them your sins are forgiven, but do not sin again. Forgiveness is not a permit to continue in sin. Likewise, when you forgive others, it does not mean you are permitting them to hurt you again.
We are called to live in peace. However, some people may not want to live in peace. We are only accountable to do what depends on us. When it comes to reconciliation, if the offender is unwilling to cooperate or change from their wickedness, their decision to not reconcile is not our responsibility. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:8 NIV).
Jesus never hesitated to confront people, neither should we, if we want to be Christlike. Whatever you do, do it out of love, with gentleness and humility. There are times when people accept they are wrong, apologise for it, but still continue their wrong behaviour. It is possible that they have an addiction to something or they are in bondage. Be patient, change may not occur overnight. Remember, love is longsuffering, patient, kind, pursuing for the good of others. Always seek guidance from God, as He alone makes a way, where there seems to be no way. God will tell you precisely, the right course of action and what you should do, when you don’t know what to do.