“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
This blog is a plea to all God-fearing, gospel-loving, Bible-believing Christians. It is my intention to biblically rebuke those who “cannot” or will not confront other believers in love on any issue that severs the ties of fellowship and partnership.
On the whole, Christianity appears to fail miserably when it comes to the matter of confrontation. The typical Christian is either unwilling to confront another believer altogether, or their confrontation is harsh, abrasive and loveless. Whichever the position, it is WRONG!
I speak not only on the subject of confronting sin, but also when it comes to differences of opinion, or a case where one’s feelings have been hurt. The level of damage done by an unwillingness to obey this biblical command of confrontation is incalculable, and has destroyed churches, families, ministries and individual walks with God.
The Motivation for Confronting the Issue:
As with all subjects in Scripture, the motivation must be God and His gospel. Confrontation is no different. In Soteriological terms we understand that outside of Christ we are (and were) enemies of God. The greatest conflict that ever existed is that of sinful man and a righteous God. The means of reconciliation between these parties is only achieved through the vicarious atonement of Jesus Christ. God confronted man in his helplessness and lifted him from his fallen state by means of His Son. The Psalmist writes “He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock…”
The greatest conflict and offense has been dealt with by God and there is a lesson to be learned in this for us. As believer’s we have a responsibility to confront one another in the same way that God confronted us; in love, absolute truth and with the intention of reconciliation.
The Mandate to Confronting the Issue:
The Bible makes it clear that every Christian is commanded to confront issues, offenses, hurts, trespasses and sins in each other. Although often misused and misinterpreted passages, Matthew 18:15-17 along with Matthew 5:21-24 define clearly the Lord Jesus’ position on the subject of confrontation. Other passages which also speak to this subject and the outcome include: Colossians 3:12-15 and Galatians 6:1-2.
The Manner of Confronting the Issue:
There are many Christians who obey the command of Scripture on this subject but do so in a manner which does not exalt Christ. The Bible does not leave us in the dark on this matter either. Consider Ephesians 4:15 which implores the Christian church to “…speak the truth in love…” Later in that same chapter the Bible says “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.”
There is never room for God’s people to approach one another in an abrasive, wrathful, vengeful, unforgiving, loveless, or careless fashion. There are no hierarchies in Christianity; whether you are a pastor, evangelist, missionary, church pianist or a recently converted individual, God’s design for confronting the issue, and the subsequent reconciliation is the same for all within His blood-bought church.
It is possible (and I think helpful at times) for the Christian who engages in confrontational discussion to conclude the conversation by ‘agreeing to disagree.’ The Christian who is humble in heart and conduct will approach the other party with the supreme desire to bring about restoration, without requiring them to convert to their standpoint on the given subject. The great problem in our conservative churches is that we are unwilling to be flexible on the ‘peripheral matters’ and sometimes go as far as saying “unless you agree with me on this, you are not a real Christian” or “it’s my way or the highway buddy.”
Whatever the issue, whether it be a disagreement on a biblical interpretation, public sin, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, offenses or any other conflict, it is essential that both parties (offended and offender) practice all the virtues of grace.
The Malady associated with Not Confronting the Issue:
I cannot count how many times I have listened to the testimony of some “seasoned saint” who in the twilight years of their Christian experience has publicly confessed to having harboured bitterness, anger and resentment towards another believer over a matter that dates back decades. So many can attest to the “malady of bitterness” that results from a lack of confronting the person at the time. It is my experience that Christians who will not follow the biblical mandate are the first to spread gossip and slander within the body of Christ. It seems there are two choices; confront the fellow-believer in love, arrayed in all the virtues of grace, or; spread a poisonous malady by assassinating the character of a brother or sister in Christ through gossip and slander. This will finally, and inevitably result in bitterness and destroy the Christian’s life.
May I urge upon you, o reader, let this not be your epitaph.
Is there anyone with whom you have an issue, quarrel, or offense?
Only by His grace,