Since creation, there is a certain characteristic that has defined every culture regardless of its era of existence: the confrontation and distortion of the truth. The truth was challenged in the Garden of Eden, denied during the life and death of Christ, and now is simply altered to suite one’s purposes. Because this is the disposition of our society, it requires that we be defenders of the truth, both inside the church and outside.
With that role comes incredible responsibility. Most consider this a standalone position requiring nothing more than zeal. They are the gatekeepers of the truth and to access it, a person must subject themselves to that person’s dissemination of the truth. Unfortunately, it means that many people are more concerned about the temporal justification of their own position than about the eternal justification of the one they are reaching. There is little recognition that standing for the truth is not merely a position, but part of our personhood. That means that who we are as a Christian (compassionate, loving, etc.) determine how we defend the truth.
Too common is the situation when someone is confronted directly, publicly, and dangerously under the mask of righteousness, while the heart is inclined away from the Lord and towards personal ambition. I’ve watched leaders tear down members in order to preserve their own glory over God’s glory. I’ve watched as members have torn down their leaders in order to preserve their own projects over God’s plan. It is here that I want to insert a personal story to share just how hurtful our pursuit of being right can be; but I find that every sentence I try to write is filled with emotion . . . too much emotion for a situation that occurred many years ago and had already been rightly dealt with. My goal is not to write an angry response to my personal mistreatments over the years in the name of defending the truth, but it comes from a concern of watching churches destroy themselves from within or destroy others on the outside. The goal is for us all to consider how we deal with other people for the sake of God’s kingdom. Besides, neither can I simply play victim and share my own experiences, because I know that I have caused others to have their own stories as well. Even when I was right, I was sometimes wrong. Therefore, let’s consider together from God’s word how we should deal with other people.
When confronting others, whether it be about simple falsehood or a sin issue, consider four aspects that go into the confrontation: (1) Glory, (2) Love, (3) Control, and (4) Intensity. These four details impact not merely confrontations with others, but they impact our interactions. Whether it be a friendly conversation, preaching a sermon, or teaching to a corporate body these four little words drive the initiation, impression, and impact that comes from each.
By establishing these four conditions, we can analyze a poorly handled confrontation, noting the following are usually present:
- Man’s Glory: A poorly handled confrontation is almost always driven by the desire for one’s own glory. Usually in these circumstances one is more worried about his or her own reputation over God’s reputation.
- Prideful Intensity: How we approach someone is often defined by our level of a pride. When a situation is guide more by what an individual wants to prove, the result is usually a circumstance that causes more harm than good. As an example, I repeatedly noted that many people approach a conversation with the need to prove themselves right. The result is a conversation that is more provocative than restorative. This is a clear example of pride and its degrading impact on others.
- Lack of Control: In such confrontations, one will exhibit impatience, Transformation does not occur immediately, and the Lord does not work on the same issue at the same time in every person. Therefore, a person may not be immediately aware of the current situation because the Lord is causing growth in other areas.
- Lack of Love: Finally, a poorly handled response is frequently characterized by a lack of love. If love were present, pride would not be present and God’s glory would be central. There is no compassion towards the person but only consternation towards the individual’s attitude.
The central core of circumstances like these I no merely being right or wrong, but the manner in which they are handled. Usually, the conversation is dominated by anger, raised voices, and an avoidance of God’s work. Even if the confrontation was done under the right circumstances, if the attitude is not right, it can impact people negatively and damage the testimony we have for God. I know of a number of people who, although they were in the wrong, because of the way the confrontation was handled, they not only left the local church, but they left behind a desire to attend any church.
I am sure that the heart of this article speaks to all of us in that we have been on the receiving end and/or also instigated such dishonorable situations. There are certain attitudes that must be present when we deal with one another. This is something that I will deal with more next week (but you should already be able to discern where I will go in that article).
Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash