I’ve recently been reviewing Paul David Tripp’s book Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change and was challenged by his words regarding confrontation. Typically when we hear the word rebuke or confrontation we immediately think of something negative or possibly a type of conversation that doesn’t happen very much due to some extraordinary circumstances. But a confrontation or rebuke is actually a good thing and all of us need to be confronted and rebuked from time to time. Tripp lays out several truths regarding biblical confrontation that are very helpful.
- Confrontation is rooted in a submission to the First Commandment. “A reliable indicator of our love for God is the quality of our love for our neighbor…confrontation has little to do with us. It is all about the Lord, motivated by a desire to draw people back into close, obedient, and loving communion with him” (201).
- Confrontation is rooted in the Second Commandment. Regarding confrontation and the Second Commandment, “we fail to confront, not because we love others too much, but because we love ourselves too much” (202).
- Confrontation is our moral responsibility in every relationship. “The Bible presents confrontation as one of the cords of a strong relationship, a normal part of the interaction that makes the relationship what it is” (202). What does this mean? It means that we love our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and we will not walk away from the first sign of sin and we will extend the same grace and forgiveness that we have received.
- Confrontation is meant to be more of a lifestyle than an unusual event. Tripp shares a great point when he says, “confrontation is difficult when it is not a normal part of our experience” (205). Therefore, we need to model having honest, transparent conversation with one another or else when a rebuke or confrontation happens it will seem completely out place, when in reality, this should be a normal characteristic of Christian relationships.
- We fail to confront in love because we have yielded to subtle and passive forms of hatred. We do this through favoritism or holding grudges, which is an incipient form of hatred where we set up standards in our own minds or we keep a record of wrongs committed. To be clear, “there is no neutral ground between love and hatred” (205).
- We fail to confront because we have yielded to more active forms of hatred. This is seen in injustice, gossip, and revenge “and all three responses destroy, or at least distort, the biblical ministry of rebuke” (206).
- Confrontation flows out of a recognition of our identity as the children of God. “Loving confrontation is rooted in an awareness that we are God’s children, and our goal is to be active in his purposes for us. To do less is to forget who we are” (207).
- Proper biblical confrontation is never motivated by impatience, frustration, hurt, or anger.
- Confrontation does not force a person to deal with you, but places him before the Lord. “It is not motivated by punishment, but by the hope that the Lord would free this person from the prison of his own sin to know the freedom of walking in fellowship with him” (209).