Romans 12 : 9 – 10 says: “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour.”
Does loving a brother or sister equate to not stepping on his or her toes? Is it more loving to refrain from confrontations, even when we observe their wrongdoing? And what if we are the ones confronted by the people around us for our sins? These questions have easy model answers (Of course I will do what’s best for my friend if I love him / I will heed my friend’s prompting and repent of my behaviour), but are much more challenging to do in real life.
For example, if a stranger comes to me and starts pointing out my sins, my first reaction would most probably be defensiveness and unhappiness with him. Thoughts of “Who does he think he is? I’m sure he has many sins too, he should just look at his own life instead of commenting on mine!” would run through my head. Conversely, if someone close to me, one whom I know has my best interests at heart, confronted me with my sins. I would be more likely to take a step back and examine my behaviour. I guess that is why the Romans passage also speaks of brotherly affection and showing honour for one another. When we have close relationships with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we start to allow them to speak God’s truth in our lives.
Now, what if I’m the one who has to confront a fellow sojourner in Christ about his / her sin? The following are some of my reflections which I have found to be useful.
–Examine self for false motives: Am I speaking from a “holier than thou” perspective, confronting the friend just to show that I am morally or spiritually stronger? Or am I sincerely encouraging the friend to have a closer walk with God?
–Recognise that I am also a sinner, even if I sin in other ways. Speak in humility.
–Base my concerns on Biblical truth: Am I confronting the friend because his behaviour or attitude is not acceptable to me, or because his behaviour and attitude is one that runs contrary to the Bible?
–Pray: Pray for God’s help in knowing how to confront the friend with love, and pray that God will work in his heart as he responds to me.
–Be willing to walk alongside the friend if he/she needs an accountability partner in dealing with the sin.
The list above is non-exhaustive, but it serves as a starting point to check our heart attitudes and motivation before confronting a friend of his or her sin.
I pray that we will be like the proverbial men in Proverbs 27:17, sharpening and honing one another towards Christlikeness. And I pray that if we are the ones being confronted, we would not take offence, but consider it a blessing that we have friends who love us and are truly concerned for our spiritual health.
“The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
but he loves him who pursues righteousness.”
Proverbs 15:9 (ESV)
Deacon Simon Koh