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5 Things To Do When Confronting Someone

Written By Aryanto Wijaya, originally in Bahasa Indonesia

“He did something wrong. You should talk to him.”

“Hey, why me? You should be the one to tell him. Aren’t you his friend?”

Due to my conflict-avoidant personality, the idea of correcting someone scares me. I fear that speaking up will affect my relationship with my friends. Therefore, when I see them doing something wrong, I often ask others to reprove them instead, just like I did in the conversation above.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this matter. Many of us are reluctant to correct our friends despite knowing that they’ve done something wrong. We prefer to remain silent and stay in our comfort zone. If we really have to correct someone, we would delegate the task to someone else.

Most of the time, we justify our actions by claiming that we want to maintain peace in our relationships. However, in situations like these, seeking for “peace” is not the most appropriate course of action. As a Christian, we are indeed called to “live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18, ESV), but the peace that Paul calls for does not mean we should be standing idly by or letting someone remain in their sin.

The Bible gives us several examples on this subject. In his letter to the church in Galatia, Paul shared about a conflict he had with Cephas. He knew that Cephas had sinned by acting like a hypocrite. Paul then rebuked him rather harshly, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Galatians 2:14).

Another example is found in Matthew 14:1-10. During that time, John the Baptist reprimanded Herod the tetrarch, saying, “It is not lawful for you to have [Herodias, Herod’s brother Philip’s wife]!” (v. 4). This reproof angered the king so much that he sought to kill John the Baptist.

Herod’s response may sound frightening and discouraging, and most of us would probably not face such life-threatening situations as John the Baptist did. Nevertheless, this story reminds us that voicing out the truth can be a risky act. It also helps us see that hearing the truth can be painful for the other party. Hence, we cannot take the call to correct our brothers and sisters lightly or recklessly.

Here are five pointers that I’ve found helpful when I’m led to confront someone:

 

1. Make sure you’re walking the talk

This point can be summarized in one word: integrity. Our words must match our lifestyles.

We don’t have the authority to ask someone to stop drinking alcohol if we are heavy drinkers ourselves. In the same way, we cannot ask our friends to refrain from cheating in exams if we are famous for doing so.

There is a hymn, “Let Others See Jesus in You” with the following lyrics:

Your life’s a book before their [fellow human beings’] eyes, they’re reading it thro’ and thro’,

Say, does it point them to the skies, do others see Jesus in you?

Like a double-edged sword, we cannot separate our words from our actions. We need to make sure we are living out the truth we’re directing others to before we speak. More importantly, as the hymn points out, do others see Christ in our lives and our words?

 

2. Consider why you are correcting others

When we reprimand others, what is the purpose of doing so? Do we do it to look better than them? Or, do we do it for their sake?

Even if we may be right to point out our friends’ faults, our task is not to boast about ourselves or how “right” we are. When we correct others, we should approach it from a pastoral perspective. Chuck Swindoll wrote, “In rebuking, we ought to have this end in mind: to restore, and not to embarrass others.”

When we know what the aim of our reproving is, we can guide the person whom we’re correcting to return to God’s ways. Remember, when we rebuke others for their sake, then our words are directed not to shame them, but to help them see their blind spots and turn back to the truth.

 

3. Speak the truth in love

As I shared at the start of this article, I was once afraid to reprimand my friend because I was afraid of ruining our friendship. In retrospect, I should have realized that the closeness of our friendship puts me in a better position to correct my friend. Because my friend knows that I have his best interests at heart, he would be more open to listen to me and accept my correction.

However, it is important to note that having a close relationship does not mean we can correct our friends recklessly. The Bible commands us to speak the truth in love. In Matthew 18:15, our Lord Jesus said:

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.

When someone commits a sin, Jesus does not tell us to broadcast it to everyone else. Instead, He wants us to speak to the person privately and correct him humbly. Use words that are gentle, appropriate and constructive. Most importantly, ask the Holy Spirit for help so that that person’s heart will be softened through our words.

This point also applies when we are not really close to the person we’re correcting. In that case, we should take time to pray and ask the Holy Spirit for the right timing and wisdom to speak the truth to that person.

 

4. Commit to help your friend

We also have to realize that whenever we confront others with their sin, it will impact them emotionally. As mentioned earlier, it can often be painful for the person on the receiving end of our correction. The person may also deny their wrongdoing or even try to justify him/herself. Bearing this in mind can help us think about how best to communicate the truth to our friends—and offer to walk with them through it.

On one occasion, I had to confront my best friend. We started college at the same time, but all our classmates and I have now graduated except for him. On one hand I was afraid to confront him about this, but on the other hand I knew that he needed someone to prod him to complete his final year project so he could graduate.

As I thought through my course of action, I knew that there is a possibility that he might be offended or feel ashamed if I spoke to him about this. To minimize the impact, I tried to meet him in person, inviting him to meet me for a drink at a place with a relaxing atmosphere. It was then that I told him that he should be taking his final year project seriously. I ended my reproof by offering to help him proofread his report. By God’s grace, he responded to it well, and is now at the last leg of completing his final report.

 

5. Keep your friend in prayer

Even if  we have planned our course of action as meticulously and wisely as possible, the other party may still resist our correction and even decide to end their relationship with us. If you’re caught in such a situation, don’t give up. No matter the outcome of our confrontation, there is one simple, yet powerful action that we can still do: pray.

Praying helps us keep our motives pure. When we pray for the other person, we’re not only committing the person to the Lord, but also learning to seek God’s heart for our friend, and trusting in His timing and ways to help our friend see the light.

Is there anyone the Lord has placed on your heart to gently correct or rebuke? If He has, start praying for that person now.

Why Should Christians Care About Social Justice?

Written By Hannah Spaulding, USA

Every fall, my college holds an event called “Un-Learn Week”. Un-Learn Week is a week full of different events focused on “un-learning” racial bias. This was the first time that I started really learning about social justice and what it means—especially in a Christian context.

Social justice is pretty easy to define, but harder to illustrate. One definition might be “social justice is the pursuit of justice to correct systemic problems within a social context.” But what does that really mean? For some, the words “social justice” might conjure up pictures of angry protesters marching in defense of their beliefs. Or maybe social justice seems more like a hazy umbrella term for various “-isms,” such as racism, sexism, ageism.

The Bible never uses the term “social justice”. But in ancient Israel, God gives detailed commandments for setting up a social welfare system, instructing the covenant community how to treat the poor, widows, and foreigners. When the people failed to follow through with these commands, God says through the prophet Amos, “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream” (Amos 5:24).

One of the speakers at Un-Learn Week explained why as students, and Christians, we should spend time doing something that sounds as contradictory as “un-learning.” The speaker explained that, regardless of our personal opinions, if one of our brothers or sisters in Christ comes to us and starts to tell us about a time they experienced racial bias, we have an obligation to listen to them as a sibling in Christ.

This idea really impacted my understanding of social justice. God wants us to listen when there are people around us crying out, whether they are speaking out about racial bias, poverty, sexism, abuse, discrimination, or any other issue. Even if they are not a fellow believer. Even if we end up disagreeing with the person we are listening to, when we listen first, that disagreement can come from a place of mutual understanding instead of bias. Listening is the first step of loving.

I got the chance to do some listening when I participated in Un-Learn Week this past fall. I attended a presentation by two female black students about the history of American media portrayal of black women, and the issues black women in America still face today. Merely attending a presentation might not seem like a work of social justice, but a big part of social justice is educating oneself about issues others are facing. That presentation gave me the opportunity to learn about someone else’s experience that I didn’t previously know.

When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment is, He replied that loving God was the first commandment, and the second was “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). A few chapters later, Jesus gives an example of this great commandment put into action. Jesus says that at His return He will say to the faithful:

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. (Matthew 22:39)

These verses are a prime example of social justice—caring for the marginalized. The early disciples understood this, and in fact, social justice started largely with the early Christian community. If you were to flip back through the pages of history, you would find that many of the first institutional systems that cared for the poor or marginalized were set up by Christians. Many of the first hospitals, schools, orphanages, refuges for the homeless, etc., were often funded and run by monks, nuns, and other early Christians.

As Christians were then, I believe Christians are now still called to participate in bringing justice where injustice has penetrated in a systemic way. This begins with education and awareness, but goes beyond that. It is a willingness to stand in the gap with our brothers and sisters—and even those who aren’t yet our brothers and sisters in Christ—and love them by listening and doing. As 1 Corinthians 13:6-7 says, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

This past school year, I participated in the work of social justice through being involved with the Sexual Assault Prevention Team (SAPT) on my campus. My involvement in SAPT modeled to me the way social justice works: First, you learn. Then, you act.

In SAPT, we did the work of learning, and sometimes “un-learning,” at our weekly meetings. Each week the director of SAPT would bring an article, video, or presentation for us to learn about and discuss. As a group we expanded our awareness about different issues pertaining to sexual assault, such as the way toxic versions of masculinity contribute to a culture of assault, or how people that are differently abled are often more vulnerable to sexual assault.

Educating ourselves was only half the work, however. The rest of the work of SAPT involved taking action around campus. Some of the efforts of our team included taking a survey of the student body to see how many students on campus are being affected by sexual assault, creating resource flyers to be posted in select bathrooms around campus, and providing sexual assault prevention training programs for members of the student body to attend.

Sometimes social justice is hard to understand. Sometimes it’s inconvenient. But the truth is that love is an action, and participating in social justice is one way we can show God’s love for us to others.

Simply put, social justice is love in action. Will you choose to take the first step today?

Why Do I Long to Feel Loved?

Written by Rachel, Malaysia, originally in Simplified Chinese

I grew up in a warm and affectionate family, and have never needed to work for my family’s love.

However, I’ve found that I am easily jealous for the affections of my close friends. Whenever my close friends are more concerned for other friends than they are for me, I feel an inexplicable sense of disappointment. When they forget to invite me to gatherings, I feel sad and abandoned, thinking that they do not love me.

Being single, I also desire a partner who loves me. In times of sadness, I often wish I had someone who would encourage, comfort and support me. Though I may not be actively looking for such a person, I wish in my heart that I had a special someone to spend time with.

I have always wanted others to empathize with me during my difficulties. When I struggle with my studies, I want to be encouraged and supported. When I face challenges in my relationships, I want a friend who would offer me advice and help.

I yearn to be first in others’ hearts. I long to be treasured and loved. Yet when I hold my friends to certain expectations, it is only a matter of time before I am disappointed. Perhaps the disappointment stems from high and unrealistic expectations. As a result, I become very unhappy in my quest to seek for love from my friends.

When I realized that seeking to feel loved makes me less content and joyful, I decided to change the way I deal with my longing. Though I want others to love me and care for my feelings, I am learning that I should do likewise for them. My desires should urge me to understand those around me—who similarly desire to be loved and cared for. Instead of seeking to be loved, I need to love and empathize with others in their weaknesses and sufferings.

So whenever the longing arises, I would ask myself the following questions:

1. Does God’s love satisfy my longing?

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)

Have I forgotten the love poured out to me by Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest? I am deemed righteous because of His atoning sacrifice on the Cross. Can’t the love of God fill my heart completely? Or have I not truly reflected on and accepted this truth?

Neither the love from friends nor a partner can fill the emptiness within me. After all, they are imperfect humans who need to be loved and cared for just like me. Only the love of God can satisfy us. I am already loved, and by a perfect Love! I do not have to worry about feeling loved. Instead, I ought to love those around me—with the love that has been poured into me. When I came to this conclusion, my heart was filled with a renewed sense of gratitude.

I have since learned to take the initiative to care for those around me. All of us inevitably face difficulties and grow weary in the course of life. Being able to encourage and lend a hand of support to my friends during such times can make a huge difference in their lives.

 

2. Am I pursuing a misplaced identity?

Is a moment of negligence by a friend really that important? Do I have to be offended when I am not my friends’ first priority? I took some time to reflect on these questions, and was reminded that my identity is that of a child of God, not merely a popular friend.

Romans 8:16-17 says, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

My pursuits should be in line with my identity. As a co-heir with Christ, I have access to a love that can fill me with greater joy than any friends will ever be able to. Whenever I’m tempted to reach for the love of my friends instead of seeking God for comfort, I tell myself that I am first and foremost, a child of God.

 

3. Am I allowing my insecurities to get the better of me?

Perhaps one of the reasons why I struggle with this question is because I’ve had low self-esteem since a young age. I have always thought that I was neither pretty nor smart, and have always found it hard to find favor with people. Because of that, getting affirmation from my friends and even a partner became really important to me.

But God’s love has shown me the value I have in Christ. I am bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). Jesus Christ suffered on the Cross so that I am deemed righteous by faith. God created me to glorify Him, so how can I look down on myself?

Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

My low self-esteem, insecurities and fears cannot separate me from the love of God! This love comes from Jesus Christ alone, and it cannot be found in our friends, family or partner.

 

I couldn’t help smiling as I pondered the answers to these questions in my heart, because I know that I no longer have to long for the feeling of “being loved” when I have the greatest love of all. And because I’m a child of God, I have the privilege of helping others fill their longing to be loved with the love of Christ.

There are times when I still revert to my old mindset and feel neglected by my friends, but remembering God’s truth about who I am helps me to refocus my actions on loving others and showing the love of Christ to them.

1 John 4:12 says, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us”. When we love, encourage and forgive one another in fellowship, others will see God’s love in us.

Why Christians Should Not Be Afraid to Talk About Politics

Have you ever gotten into a political discussion at church? It’s not always the most comfortable topic.

“So what are you doing after church this afternoon?”

“Um. . . Going to the protest march.”

Awkward pause. “Oh. It’s so much noise and disruption. I’m not sure what the point is.”

That could be one of the more civil exchanges. Many Christians are reluctant to voice their political views among their brothers and sisters. And how often have we heard the advice to not talk politics around the dinner table?

While I have never been afraid to voice my political views, in recent years I am learning what it means to speak as a Christian. We as followers of Christ owe allegiance to no political party or power, and because of our neutrality, humility, and love, I think we have an important perspective on politics the world needs to hear.

 

1. We have a unique perspective

When entering political conversations, the first thing to remember is that we are Christians. We are not merely followers of one or another flawed human party. When lines are drawn in the sand dividing some people from others (liberal/conservative, pro-establishment/pro-democracy, etc.), these lines simply do not, and must not, apply to us.

When we offer our opinion on politics, the first and foremost opinions we have should come from the Bible. We as Christians are law-abiding citizens and submit to earthly authority (Romans 13:1-7). But we also boldly defend the dignity of the widow and orphan, and any others who are marginalized by the world (Proverbs 31:8-9).

Both of these views can be uncomfortable. On the one hand, we do not always want to submit to earthly authorities. I’ve known of missionary families who refuse to pay taxes to authoritarian governments. “Why should I help their persecution?” they ask, forgetting that Christ Himself told the Jews to “give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s” (Matthew 22:21).

On the other hand, defending the weak often comes with a price. For example, Christians who speak out against forced abortions may face harassment from the community.

But when we remember that our loyalty is not to political parties or systems—but to a coming King—we can speak out lovingly, humbly, and boldly. Such a combination is uncommon in our current political landscapes, and is more likely to encourage meaningful, constructive conversation than our often superficial views. Perhaps through those conversations, our unbelieving friends might see that we hold dear something that is not swayed by political trends, and might be inspired to reconsider their own understanding of politics.

 

2. We are united in Christ

While we agree on submission to authority and defending the weak, Christians may  disagree on how specifically to carry this out. I have dear brothers and sisters with whom I disagree vehemently when it comes time to vote. We disagree on whether or not there is anything worth protesting about and whether or not a march is a reasonable way of doing so. We disagree about the extent of authority a government should have.

So, why bother even talking about politics?

Because we know that such differences are superficial, but important. Speaking of spiritual gifts, Paul reminds the church in Corinth that “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27). We are united in Christ, but we each have different strengths and weaknesses, and different preferences. That’s a good thing. Our flawed but individual attempts to live out Christ’s teaching make for the beautiful mosaic we call the Church.

My friends Steve and John* are both sincerely seeking to live out the teachings in the Bible to the best of their abilities. However, though they have the same foundation in the Bible, they work out the political implications very differently. In effect, they support completely opposing candidates and policies.

In the early days of their friendship, they had many heated discussions and minimal respect for one another when it came to politics. But as their friendship grew, they did not ignore the differences, but learned to lovingly and humbly challenge each other’s choices, and point each other back to the Bible.

As much as Steve disagrees with John’s politics, he has learned to trust that John is actively seeking to please God. Because of that, Steve does not tire of trying to understand how John’s favored politics (which seem so un-Biblical sometimes) connect to John’s love of God. And John patiently does likewise for Steve. They ask each other questions as they seek to understand opposing viewpoints, such as, “Why do you think this?”, “Have you considered. . . ?”, “I don’t entirely follow the connection between your points.”

By recognizing their unity in Christ, Steve and John often come to a better understanding and respect of each other’s choices, even though they still disagree. And sometimes, they even come to agreement on unexpected issues.

Even though we disagree with brothers and sisters on specific issues, when we recognize our unity in Christ, we can challenge one another to love God more deeply and love man better.

 

3. We know who is king

Ultimately, we are not afraid to speak out politically because the Bible is political.

I’ve been reading Isaiah recently, and Isaiah gets really specific about the coming judgment of various nations and their wrongs. But each of these prophecies also point to a time where a king will reign on Zion and bring peace and prospering to all nations (Isaiah 25:6, for example).

A king is an inherently political title, and in claiming this title, God promises that He will return and right the wrongs of our broken political systems.

Clearly, the time where all nations kneel before God and recognize His authority has not come yet. But we as Christians live in hope of that day. We know that the evils our rulers perpetrate are, ultimately, temporary. We know that Christ the King is coming back, and when He does, He will bring a sword of judgment and right all wrongs (Revelation 19:15).

When we discuss politics with other people, perhaps the one thing we can all agree on is how imperfect and broken politics is, and how little faith we have in our politicians. Different people propose different solutions, but let’s be honest, have we ever seen a political system work the way it should?

When commiserating about current politics, perhaps we can offer the hope Christ has extended to us. That one day, the Perfect King will come and rule the earth in a perfect manner.

In submitting to imperfect human rulers and speaking out against the injustices they commit, we look forward anxiously to that day. We live in anticipation of the time when God’s will will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

And ultimately, when we discuss politics as Christians, we share the very real hope we have in Christ.

“Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)

 

*Not their real names.