When it's Time to Confront

We are called to encourage each other towards righteousness, but confrontation is never an easy situation.

Nobody likes to confront bad behavior. Most employers wait until the last possible minute before calling their subordinates on the carpet. Temper tantrums in grocery stores can be embarrassing for parents, but spanking your child in public brings "child abuse charge" fears to mind. Even worse, when confrontation is handled poorly in a church setting, legal retribution is only one thing leaders have to worry about. Oftentimes a church will split over such issues.

To begin with, encouragement toward righteousness should be a part of our daily Christian lives with each other. "I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another" (Romans 15:14). It should not be out of the ordinary for us to challenge one another's values, attitudes, and behaviors. Again, in Colossians 3:16, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."

However, at some point in the Body of Christ there are times when confrontation must be done that goes beyond just gentle correction. Jesus taught a simple approach in Matthew 18 when a brother sins against you. (Paul further extends this to sins that aren't just against you in 1 Corinthians 5.)

  1. Confront the individual privately about his sin. If he listens, great! You have won back a brother to the Lord. The important thing to remember here is privately. Containment in the church is as important as it is in fire fighting. People must be taught to take their problems to the offending individual, not to others. If in doubt about whether or not a complaint is legitimate, ask God, not the rest of the body.

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