Why do we think it’s more spiritual to appease others or live by conciliatory gestures? And why is passive-aggressive behavior tolerated more today? Are we being merciful and gracious or are we being dishonest?
Today we write comments on social media or letters to the editor trying to get our aggressions across in an acceptable media-centered way. But is it the right way? As well, what about the people in your life who will not tell you what they see or feel, but they will definitely show you or make an inference on Facebook? That is passive-aggressive behavior.
Matthew chapter 18 tells us that if your brother sins against you, you are to go to your brother. Nowhere in that chapter does it say to write a letter to the editor, bully them on Facebook, ignore them or slam them with passive-aggressive tactics. We are to go one-on-one in love, in the hope that our brother will hear us.
Listen to I Peter 3:8 & 9: “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” We must determine that part of being a blessing is speaking compassionate truth and words of blessing.
One day Jesus encountered an issue with Philip while Philip was requesting to be shown the Father. Jesus looked straight back at him and said, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you for such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’” I’ll bet Philip never asked that question again.
I’ve had leaders who have loved me enough to confront me with what they saw as a deficit in my life. As hard as that kind of thing is to receive and look at, I realize they love me enough to tell me the truth as they understand it. To me, that is real mercy. Not being confronted toward change will cause me to repeat the wrong I was doing.
I’ve often asked other leaders to let me know if they hear something in what I teach that is culturally insensitive or incorrect. After speaking on one occasion, I requested input and, low and behold, I was told, “Yeah, there was one thing…” I agreed and was thankful for their honesty. If you do not want truthful input, don’t ask, but then do not expect to grow.
Another Reason or Three Why We Do Not Confront
- Self-protection – I am apprehensive because I am protecting myself from a projected reaction that will affect me, so I choose not to go there. Oscar Wilde is quoted as saying, “True friends stab you in the front.”
- Arrogance – Rather than moving in love, compassion and humility, we feel arrogance because we’re not walking in this sin, wrong doing or what we think is wrong thinking. Arrogance is full of pride and will keep us from changing.
- Insecurity – I perceive my worth, my identity wrapped up in the garment of this person liking me and not rejecting me. If I confront them, my identity could be shaken. Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare…”
The book of Proverbs wisely counsels there are times we are to overlook an offense. (See Proverbs 17:9, 19:11.) It simply is not worth getting into. But when is it worth getting into how do we confront someone with the truth? Here are some life-giving ways or approaches to consider.
- When you expose another’s fault, a sin, you do so in love in order to win your brother or sister back (Matthew 18:15). Compassion is a major ingredient in the why of your confrontation. “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” (Proverbs 27:6)
- When it is not criticism for criticism’s sake and it is not, “The truth hurts sometimes,” because that can be mean-spiritedness. It must be that I love you enough to tell you the truth. The spirit of the conversation is love and the vehicle is grace. (Ephesians 4:15)
- Paul the Apostle disagreed with Barnabas about taking John Mark on their missionary journey because John Mark had deserted Paul in Pamphylia. Paul was honest about how he felt concerning John Mark and why. Be honest, be truthful while at the same time believing for and positioning yourself for healing in the life of the one you have to be honest with.
- Paul would eventually reconcile with John Mark. Everyone is worth a second chance. Give the one you are confronting the benefit of the doubt and trust God for a second chance and reconciliation.
- Proverbs says that the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18). Is what you have to say spoken in an effort to bring healing or destruction and judgement? It takes courage in the desire to bring healing to another.
- Stop airing your opinions and move toward understanding (Proverbs 18:2 – “Fools have no interest in understanding, they only want to air their opinions.”). Once we speak what God has shown us, stop and listen to understand.
- Be the tongue that brings life and not death (Proverbs 18:21 – “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”) Grace-filled truth brings life.