Knowing what is appropriate when it comes to confronting a brother or sister’s sin, is such a struggle for me.
In my quest to please God rather than men, I can’t help but anticipate the criticism that will come (no matter what I choose) and wonder if there is truth to what negative things may be said. I asked a friend of mine (whom I consider to do well in this area, though most resent it), and after expressing the concern that “I feel like no matter what I do, someone could say I did it wrong”, he said:
“Yeah, and that usually does happen. Whatever you choose to do, do what you believe Jesus would do if He were here.”
Plainly stated, Jesus harshly (“Hypocrites!”, “Brood of vipers!”, “Blind guides!”, “Fools and blind!”, “Serpents!”, now consider what those names could equate to today (even today, I don’t know of many people who appreciate or would consider being called a hypocrite, loving)) rebuked those whose hearts were simply not set on Him, though they claimed to follow God. When it came to the sins of the proud and arrogant, our Lord was quick to call them out. Yet when it came to penitent believers who came to Him on their knees, weeping, asking forgiveness, He was gentle, yet not without an admonishment to discontinue their sin.
Most people, myself definitely included (as my loving husband can testify), don’t like being rebuked, being told they’re wrong or doing wrong, and most Christians don’t like to hear someone say that they aren’t pleasing to God or that their salvation is at stake. Though the majority of people can relate to this, it is nevertheless a result of pride and if we don’t acknowledge that and take heed, we can quickly find ourselves in further sin. Now, of course, not everything you may be confronted with is true and that’s where it will take much prayer and patience to not react out of emotion and to love your brother or sister for having the right intentions (and even if you suspect they don’t have the right intentions, I believe Jesus said something about loving your enemies, blessing those that curse you and praying for those that mistreat you, Luke 6, Matthew 5).
It’s way easier said than done, I know; I struggle, too.
But sometimes having a change of perspective can help our understanding and ultimately help our faith and obedience to God.
If you have a moment, I hope you’ll read this (edited but still long, of course) excerpt about our view of Christ’s sacrifice:
“For example, if God is only a loving Father who wants to help His people, then we will see Christ as a mere example of that love. We will view the Cross as just a demonstration of God’s love in which He allowed Roman soldiers to crucify His Son so that sinful man would know how much He loves us.
But this picture of Christ and the Cross is woefully inadequate, missing the entire point of the gospel. We are not saved from our sins because Jesus was falsely tried by Jewish and Roman officials and sentenced by Pilate to die. Neither are we saved because Roman persecutors thrust nails into the hands and feet of Christ and hung Him on a cross.
Do we really think that the false judgment of men heaped upon Christ would pay the debt for all of humankind’s sin? Do we really think that a crown of thorns and whips and nails and a wooden cross and all the other facets of the crucifixion that we glamorize are powerful enough to save us?…
…Since that day countless men and women in the history of Christianity have died for their faith. Some of them were not just hung on crosses; they were burned there. Many of them went to their crosses singing…
…Did these men and women in Christian history have more courage than Christ himself? Why was He trembling in that garden, weeping and full of anguish? We can rest assured that He was not a coward about to face Roman soldiers. Instead He was a Savior about to endure divine wrath.
This is what Jesus is recoiling from in the garden. All God’s holy wrath and hatred toward sin and sinners, stored up since the beginning of the world, is about to be poured out on Him…What happened at the Cross was not primarily about nails being thrust into Jesus’ hands and feet but about the wrath due your sin and my sin being thrust upon His soul.
…So how do we respond to this gospel?…We have taken the infinitely glorious Son of God, who endured the infinitely terrible wrath of God and who now reigns as the infinitely worthy Lord of all, and we have reduced Him to a poor, puny Savior who is just begging for us to accept Him.
Accept Him? Do we really think Jesus needs our acceptance? Don’t we need Him? …Surely this gospel evokes unconditional surrender of all that we are and all that we have to all that He is.
“Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” – Matthew 7:21-23
Scores of people [have] positioned their lives on a religious road that makes grandiose promises at minimal cost. We have been told all that is required is a one-time decision, maybe even mere intellectual assent to Jesus, but after that we need not worry about His commands, His standards, or His glory. We have a ticket to heaven and we can live however we want on earth. Our sin will be tolerated along the way.”
There is so much more I could include, but I better stop there.
The article I’m writing is about confrontation, but so much of the inability to tolerate confrontation seems to come from a misunderstanding of what discipleship means. This “I was baptized and I sometimes go to a building on Sundays and sort of listen to a sermon and give money, so stay out of my business” is so foreign to the Scriptures and mainly, to the will of God.
Christ died to make a way for our salvation, and contrary to what a lot of people seem to think, we are incapable of being “good” or “moral” or pleasing to God without Him. Just because we don’t do ___, doesn’t mean we’ve suddenly ascended to a worthiness of heaven. Hearing the gospel means hearing about the gravity of our sin and unworthiness and how infinitely small and unrighteous we are compared to this great God who has graciously offered us an undeserved way to spend eternity with Him. When we believe in that Jesus and in that plan, of course we repent because we understand how glorious He is, and we want to be conformed to His image. We want to be washed from our sins, and then we want to endure and ultimately present ourselves blameless before Him.
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life…We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” – Romans 6:1-4, 6
This means we turn from sin and we dedicate ourselves to following His word and glorifying Him in all that we do more than we dedicate ourselves to anything else. Not out of a resentful heart, but out of a comprehension of just how much we fell short before God and out of a longing to please Him and a thankfulness of His allowing us this opportunity.
This also means that we become members of His body (Ephesians 1:23)- we, the people, are the church(1 Corinthians 12:12-26; the called-out (1 Peter 2:9, 10). We are his hands and feet and mouth that share the same mind and goal and faith.
We are His disciples, and we’re also family.
In one sense, the church serves to make disciples and to declare His Word. Yet, in another sense, the church serves to help each other, to bear one another’s burdens(Galatians 6:2, Colossians 3:13) and encourage each other (1 Thessalonians 5:11), stir one another up to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24,25). We absolutely need each other.
So, with this understanding of Scripture and of God and of ourselves, how can we not continuously humble ourselves and how can we not eagerly accept correction so that we may test ourselves and correct ourselves and repent and grow and please God? Honestly, if our heart was truly with Him, if our sights were really on Heaven, would we care how someone might say something? Wouldn’t the more important matter be whether or not there was even an inkling of truth to their rebuke?
We are expected to grow in our faith, not to stay complacent, forever spiritual infants, never striving to add to our faith virtue, virtue knowledge, knowledge self-control, self-control steadfastness, steadfastness godliness…(2 Peter 1:5-11, Colossians 1:9,10, 1 Corinthians 11:1, 2 Peter 3:18, Ephesians 4:15, 16)
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” – Titus 2:11-14
After reading each verse provided in this post (and hopefully more), how kindly do you think God looks upon those who want to claim the name of His Son with only minimal effort, sacrifice, humility and reverence for Him and His desire for a pure and called-out people? Would He approach you with gentleness as one on their knees weeping with godly sorrow? Or would He swiftly rebuke you as a proud hypocrite, defiling the name and blood of His Son and the grace by which you were saved?
This isn’t an excuse for us to avoid gentleness when we see our spiritual families in sin; we will all be held accountable for our actions and our words. This is just a suggestion that, just as we’ll be held accountable for how and what we say when we confront others, we’ll be held accountable for how we receive confrontation from others.
“”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. Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” – Galatians 6:1, …if you see someone in sin, if you really are a godly person, you’ll go and help that person with that sin and actually you are commanded to go and help that person with their sin. I say we’ve missed it because typically, we believe “No, if I confront someone on their sin, I’m judging them.” You guys, the Bible teaches that if someone is in sin, that we’re supposed to go and restore them and help solve the problem. In fact, judging is when you don’t do anything, when you form an opinion and you don’t care enough to restore that person. Judging is when you say, “Yeah, that person is a hypocrite” and you sit back and don’t do anything….[we think] “You know, the most loving thing to do is to leave them alone and not judge them.” That’s not what the Bible says. The most loving thing is to come along side them and say, “I’m not going to let you ruin your life and go down this path.” We’ve made sin this private thing that we don’t share with anyone else, “it’s my issue, and if anyone talks to me about it, they’re judging me.” The Bible says, “No, you carry one another’s burdens..” That’s the most loving thing you can do. The most loving thing you can do is not feed someone when they’re hungry. That is loving. But the most loving thing is when they’re walking away from the Lord and you actually bring them back to repentance and bring them back to the ways of the Lord.”
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.“- 2 Timothy 3:16, 17
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence 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, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” – Matthew 18:15-17
“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.” – Luke 17:3
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” – James 5:16
“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” – James 5:19,20