In a post earlier this week I laid out seven considerations to make when confessing your sin to someone else. Sometimes, however, our relationships are damaged because of someone else’s sin. If we going to follow the command of Romans 12:18, then we must be willing to confront others about their sin.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on your, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18
Confrontation can be difficult, especially in a broken relationship. Because of the fragile nature of damaged relationships, Paul advises believers to confront gently, speaking the truth with love.
“Brothers, if anyone who is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” Galatians 6:1a
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” Ephesians 4:15
In his book The Peacemaker, Ken Sande provides a few pieces of advice for those preparing to confront sin.
1. Talk from Beside, Not from Above
When you confront someone else about their sin, do not present yourself as having everything together. Come alongside them rather than lording their sin over them. They are more likely to respond positively if they feel that you are coming alongside them than if you are coming against them.
2. Talk in Person Whenever Possible
The right environment can make a big difference in a difficult conversation. Find a time where neither of you will be tired or distracted by other concerns. Find a place that provides the appropriate level of privacy based on the nature of the sin being discussed. Meeting in face to face prevents any miscommunication that may come though text, email or even a phone call.
3. Engage Rather than Declare
One of the quickest ways to create more division in a relationship is to declare someone’s sins over them. Rather than making a pronouncement of judgment, explain to the other person what you observe in their life, and then invite them to engage in the conversation and examine their heart. Analogies can also help others become aware of the sin in their lives. This is how Nathan confronted David about his adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:1-6).
4. Use “I” statements
“I” statements give information about you without attacking the other person. Take time to plan out your words using the following formula: “I feel _______ when you _______, because ________. As a result __________.” For example, “I feel betrayed when you share our private conversation with your friends, because what I share can be very painful for me to talk about. As a result, I am starting to feel unsafe talking to you.”
5. Ask for Feedback
It can be extremely difficult to communicate clearly in painful situations, therefore, it is helpful to ask the other person for feedback. The following statement can clear up confusion or miscommunication that may arise: “I’m not sure I’ve said this clearly. Would you mind telling me what you think I’ve said?” Do not assume the other person is always on the same page as you. Listen and speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood.
We must love each other well and be willing to have difficult conversations filled with truth and grace. Proverbs 12:18 provides us with a clear image of the affect our words can have on each other.
“Reckless words pierce like a sword,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18