I love fishing. It’s a huge thrill when the fishing pole catches and instead of a shoe or algae, there’s finally a fish on the other end. It’s fascinating though to put yourself in the shoes of a fish, or I should say his fins. Fish after fish falls for the same lure and none of them learn from each others mistakes. It seems as if humans are the same. Human after human falls for the worlds lies, and despite the obvious fact that harm is on the way, we love the empty temporary pleasure that sin brings. This pattern of luring and enticement reminds me of Paul’s words in Galatians chapter 6 where we, as Christians, continue to sin like a fish bites the line.
The fish can pull as hard as it can, sometimes the fish can get away on its own but what it usually needs is for someone to come and cut the line or even better, to carefully take the hook out of their mouth.
Paul in Galatians 6:1-2 gives us guidelines for biblical confrontation. He tells us exactly what we need to know in order to properly help other believers who are caught in sin. Like a hopeless fish, Paul says, that as believers, we must take the time and care to help each other when we fall in sin. In fact he gives us 4 requirements before we would ever confront our brothers and sisters in Christ.
You need to know other Christians
You who are spiritual restore him…
Confrontation is not just for the pastors and elders, confrontation is for everyone in the Church. Anyone involved in the sanctification process has the holy spirit and is considered to be spiritual. We are all called to be involved in confrontation.
Paul begins with a self-evident truth. He implies that In order to be faithful in encouraging other christians in their walk, you must know other Christians. You must be close enough to them in order to know what their struggles are, and only then will you be close enough so that people can help you in your walk with Christ. if one of my hands were ever ten feet away from my body you would instantly call an ambulance and yet, you meet thousands of people these days, who claim Christ but don’t claim a local Church, and if they do they are spectators and not participants. Nothing is more harmful for our sanctification than isolation. We must be close to other Christians and close enough to see each other’s flaws in order to be obedient to our mandate to restore each other when we fall.
You need to be gentle
In a spirit of gentleness…
Although I love fishing, I absolutely hate touching fish, on top of that I despise taking the hook out of the fish’s mouth. It’s hard, it’s uncomfortable, the fish doesn’t seem to cooperate, you may get a cut or two in the process, and blood is always involved. Helping a fellow believer recognize their sin is not an easy process. It’s messy, they fight back, they get offended, they don’t want to admit it and they often shift blame onto someone or something else. This is true even when someone points something out in my own life. That’s why before we even consider going to someone else, we must be praying for gentleness. We must carefully approach them and calmly take the hook out of their mouths without yanking, fighting and being harsh. Too many times, we get impatient, accuse people of being unteachable, and get offended when confronting our brothers and sisters. Paul says, stop being selfish, and stop playing the Holy Spirit, instead be gentle and patient with your brothers and sisters, because when you have a hook stuck in your mouth the last thing you would want is for someone to come and rip your mouth apart with harshness.
You need humility
Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted…
Part of what will help us be gentle will be humility. Paul reminds us about how easily we fall. He says that in the moment of confrontation, we are vulnerable to temptation ourselves. In fact it is when people sin that we are most likely to sin ourselves. Whenever we get angry at someone for sinning we are forgetting how sinful we truly are. Whenever we get impatient with someone, we are forgetting how slow of change we are. Every statement we make of others when they sin, someone could easily say about us, several times a day. Jesus says, take out the log in your eye so that you will be able to take out the speck in your brothers eye. He never forbids you to take our the speck in fact he commands you to, he just reminds you that you should be the biggest sinner you know. It’s tempting to be prideful and to think we are better than others around us, but Paul reminds us that in order to be able to carefully remove the hook from our brothers or sisters mouth that we must have a humble heart.
You need a servant’s heart
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Before you confront a brother or mention ANYTHING they have done wrong, you need to be willing to do the dirty work afterwards. While it is a command to confront one another, we must know that confrontation takes a servant’s heart. Before you confront someone you need to remember that there will be one of two outcomes. Repentance or un-repentance. Matthew 18:15-18 tells us what to do when a brother or sister does not repent, and of course that is a long process that takes many weeks and sometimes even months. At the same time we must remember that most of the time when a brother or sister falls in their sin they have done so because they didn’t recognize the hook. Even in repentance they usually need help for a long time after in order to keep from falling for the same sin over and over again. This takes prayer, accountability and selflessness on the part of the confronter to gently bear the burden of his brother and sister in Christ for the foreseeable future.
It is easy to go through the motions and to be a spectator Christian. If you haven’t confronted someone in a while ask yourself why is that? In fact even better, if someone hasn’t confronted you recently ask yourself why? Is it because you have somehow achieved sinless perfection? Or is it because you simply haven’t surrounded yourself with brothers and sisters who love personal purity and encourage purity in others? It is easy to sit on the sidelines and to selfishly isolate ourselves from the rest of the Church, but in order to be faithful Christians and obedient to Christ, we need to be in each others lives getting to know each other well enough so that gently, patiently and with all humility we can bear each other’s burdens in our quest to be more faithful to Christ.