Confronting vs. Judging

If you have not read yesterday’s post first then I encourage you to do so.

Today’s post is complicated. This is a topic that inevitably leads people on different sides. It is a topic that is ripe with hypocrisy. It is a topic that is easily misunderstood. It is a topic that has been plagued with passages taken out of context. It is the topic of confronting sin in someone else.

Let me start by clarifying a few things. I am not talking about confronting nonbelievers in their sin. This requires a very different method. A sinner needs to be aware of their sin in order to see the need for a savior, but our interaction with them is supposed to be different compared to the believer who is sinning, and refusing to acknowledge it.

I am not talking about judging. There is a difference between confronting someone on their sin, and judging them for their sin. When we judge we are declaring the ruling and punishment for the act. When we confront we are urging a brother or sister to walk down a different path so that they will not need to face judgment.

Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” There is a lot mentioned in this one verse. We are called to reach out to fellow believers who are sinning. We need to confront them on their sin. However, we are told to do this with a gentle spirit. Even a biblical rebuke can be soured when it is not done tactfully and gently. I have seen so many people biblically confront sin, but do it in a harsh and disruptive manner. I also struggle with this issue. Our desire is to restore someone rather than prove their guilt.

We are also given a warning in this passage. We are told to be careful not to fall into sin in the midst of our confrontations. It can be so easy to become prideful when we correctly confront sin. We see ourselves as on a higher spiritual level than those we confront. We applaud ourselves for saving someone from going down the wrong road. Pride is the poison of biblical confrontation. Pride is the line between confronting in love, and judging others.

One question I get is that only the Holy Spirit can convict someone of their sin. This is true. However, the Holy Spirit is in us as well, and sometimes He uses us as a tool to bring about conviction for sin. James 5: 19-20 says, “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” This leads to a crucial point in the next question that comes up.

Why should I feel responsible for confronting someone on their sin? We live in a culture where it is insensitive and rude to suggest how someone should live their life. Why should we confront someone in their sin? It is because unchecked sin leads to more sin. Let me give an example of this. Let us say there is a married man who finds himself in the company of another woman who is playfully flirting with him. As the interaction over the following weeks continues the man finds he enjoys this attention from another woman, and begins to flirt back. He views it to be harmless, but the flirtation grows, and he may even find himself thinking things about this woman that he should not be. Should a fellow brother in Christ confront him when he sees what is going on?

Let us say the man is never confronted, and pushed to see the sin he is committing. He lets down his guard more, and eventually finds himself having an affair. Would a confrontation on his earlier sin have guaranteed he would not have had the affair? No, but there is a chance that it could have helped him turn back onto the right path.

Now put yourself in the shoes of the man who is on his way to committing adultery. You are unaware of your sins and where they were leading in the heat of the moment. You choose to indulge in what seems like harmless desires of the flesh. Would you not want someone to confront you on these sins before you make an even bigger mistake, and destroy your marriage? We should want other to confront us in our sin. Should we not then provide the same thing to other believers?

Now perhaps you are being confronted on sin, and you wish to respond negatively to it. That is a natural sinful reaction. We do not like being told we are sinning. We begin to believe the person confronting us is doing it with impure motives. You then lay the judgment on them that they are judging you. Do you see the blatant hypocrisy in this? By claiming someone is judging when they confront us we are doing the very same act that we accuse them of.

Our society tells us that judging is wrong unless we are judging those who we feel are being judgmental. We have bought into the lie that loving people means we cannot judge them by telling them when they sin. The apostle Peter would likely say differently. He was confronted by Paul in front of other believers when he sinned against Gentile believers by treating them less than those of Jewish heritage.

To those who are confronting make sure it is done with gentleness and love. There certainly is a fine line between judging and confronting. Scripture tells us we need to evaluate our heart, look for sin in our own lives, deal with it, and pray to God before we confront. However, we most certainly are called to confront sin.

For those being confronted, do not respond in rage. Realize that there is a strong possibility that God is using this person to get your attention. Yesterday’s post was all about the destructiveness that all sin brings to others. Why then would we be so foolish to not want our sin to be brought to light when we are to prideful or oblivious to see it ourselves? You are not being judged when you are confronted. You have someone who loves you enough to reach out to you in your sin, and desires to bring you back. That is real love. Love that remains silent in sin is merely cowardly. Love that gently corrects is something to be valued and desired.

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