February 23, 2016

4 Requirements for Biblical Confrontation

by Jordan Standridge

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.

fish on hookThe 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.

dead wolfPaul 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…

logeyePart 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.

Jordan Standridge

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Jordan is a pastoral associate at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA, where he leads the college ministry. He is also the founder of The Foundry Bible Immersion. You can find his personal blog at surrender.us.
  • wiseopinion

    This is like the 3rd or 4th reminder of these truths in just a few weeks. I have confronted and I have been confronted recently. I believe that confrontation like this will (or should) become more and more necessary as we see so many falling away from biblical truths and more into quasi worldly spirituality that is infiltrating our pulpits. Great post, thanking the Lord for using your blog to remind me again to be brave and bold with conviction, compassion and gentleness.

  • Jane Hildebrand

    I find that starting with the admission that I used to, or continue to, struggle with what they are doing often helps soften the confrontation (as well as my heart) and opens the way for me to tell them what steps to take in order for Christ to set them free from it.

  • Jason

    I’m glad you included the section about bearing each others burdens. It’s easy, when confronting people, to put additional burdens on them and make righteousness seem to be the furthest thing from freedom.

    If someone’s temptation is a living situation, be ready to offer a place to stay. If it is finances, be ready to give. In nearly any situation, you’re going to need to spend more time with them going forward.

    So easily, we can fall into the James 2:16 trap. Wishing people well, offering prayers, and not lifting a finger to take any steps with our brother or sister.

  • 4Commencefiring4

    I’ve been a believer for a lot longer than you’ve been alive, Jordan, and in all those years I can only recall one time when a brother–an elder, no less–was acting in a way that disturbed others and he needed to be brought up short. And I cannot recall any time when someone approached me with something serious enough they thought needed correction–despite the abundance of available choices. Perhaps in our day, it’s just not done in polite company; we tend to have a “live and let live” attitude.

    All that to say I’m not sure any of us really knows anyone else’s life so well that we are aware of the things that keep them from a perfect walk. Most of us couldn’t name our best friend’s most serious temptation, or a song they can’t stand hearing again. We live with–and around–people we don’t really know. I’m sure most of us have behaved in ways from time to time that we would never confess to anyone, things God knows, but we’d never reveal to our best friends or spouse. Anyone denying that is a liar.

    If the christian community became one in which everyone’s shortcomings were routinely voiced (like “Festivus”, when there’s an “airing of grievances”), I’m not sure it would be a place we’d run toward. Somewhere there’s a balance between helping each other become more like Christ, on one hand, and just being a fruit inspector who is always on the lookout for someone to poke in the chest.

    • Jason

      I can confirm nearly all of your observations, but came to a completely different conclusion.

      The closest relationships I had growing up were those that were intimate enough to offer correction and to push each other to improve. We knew a lot about each other that we didn’t share with anyone else. I think kids can understand that sort of relationship much better than we can as adults, at least for me somewhere in that transition I lost that level of fellowship.

      I don’t disagree that what most people call “community” today isn’t a good environment for airing of grievances, but I see the fact that I don’t know a single person, besides my wife (who, fortunately, is around to see plenty of my failures), from whom I would be completely comfortable taking correction as a failure on my part… which nobody was close enough to point out!

      It says a lot to me that we live in a time where we live around people and never bother to get to know one another. The stereotypical city life, where people are shoulder to shoulder and only see each other as obstacles on the sidewalk, is the apathy I think most of us live with today.

      The more “polite” we get, the less serious we are about our relationships with each other because we’re scared to strike a nerve. Probably because we’re honestly not gracious enough when we, ourselves, have our nerves struck.

      I think the closest thing I’ve seen to that sort of relationship in adults are a couple army buddies I knew. Maybe we just don’t feel like we need each other enough in our culture today, or maybe it’s because we typically interact through mediums (such as the internet and group studies) that only really make room for superficiality. Whatever it is, I’d like to improve in that area myself!

  • tovlogos

    Thanks, Jordan.
    “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.” Amen.

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