(Gal 6:1) Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness . . .
Growing up there were always chores our parents made us do. And some of those assigned tasks were the least thing we ever wanted to attend to. Remember picking weeds in the hot summer? Taking out the stinky trash? Picking up after the pets? Yeah, and the list goes on. But as we grew older we found that nothing changed in this regard. We still must clean, do laundry, mow the yard, and a host of other things. But when it comes to personal relationships there is a chore no one wants to do but sometimes must be done . . . confrontation!
We all know what confrontation is. It’s when you must take a person aside and correct them. We can do this easily enough with a child or a pet. But what about someone more your equal who goes off and needs to be set straight? Just the thought of having to say something is grievous, let alone approaching the person. No wonder so many people put this task off or forego it altogether!
But when is it necessary to confront someone? Well, first you have to ask yourself if it lies within your responsibility or not. Should the person be spoken to by you or somebody else? Then you have to ask yourself if the person really needs correcting or if you need to let it go. Is God teaching you patience? Why are you so irritated with this person in the first place? Maybe the Lord is trying to reveal something to you about your character and the fruit of the Spirit. God’s love is not easily provoked (1 Cor 13:5).
So, putting yourself aside, let’s answer the question more closely. When should we confront someone? More than likely it is . . . when they need it . . . with the right attitude . . . and at the right timing. If someone is being overtaken in a sin, then we know sin has a blinding effect through deception. A concerned brother needs to take the person aside and speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15; Jude 1:22-23). We should seek to restore the person and not just vent our anger. Restore in the Greek means to set a broken bone. Setting a broken bone takes gentleness.
I think timing is also essential. Pray for the person and ask the Lord to take care of the problem. Many times the Lord does and you are relieved of the task of confrontation. But if after you pray and wait on the Lord and the problem is still not rectified then you might have to say something. Pray hard and approach the person in love and gentleness and in the right timing and setting. Trust God for boldness to overcome any natural reticence in dealing with people. And if you are more of an outgoing person then you have to pray for the Lord to soften your approach, so you won’t devastate the person. (Low beam . . . not high beam!)
Ahhh yes, those dirty jobs we did as kids and those jobs we do today that we’d rather not do. But you have to admit when the job is done it feels great. And when a brother is won it’s time to rejoice!