How do you confront the aggressive in your life? By text? Through email? Possibly, not at all?
We must lovingly confront the aggressive: “Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear” (Proverbs 25:12). Confront literally means “face to face.” Confronting by text, telephone, through another person, or via letters or emails is not actually confronting because it is not face to face. To confront lovingly means that we have the difficult person’s best interests in mind.
When we confront the aggressive in love, we increase the chances that he will listen to us: “He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise” (Proverbs 15:31). Confronting lets the aggressive know that we have peered beyond his behavior into his heart, getting to his ultimate desire of control. At the same time, confronting actually increases the aggressive person’s level of respect for the confronter: “He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue” (Proverbs 28:23).
Jonathan confronted his aggressive father King Saul face to face with relevant questions (1 Samuel 20:32).
In one of Scripture’s most insightful statements regarding our wise conflict management with difficult people, Paul taught to confront the aggressive (1 Thessalonians 5:14). This needs to be done in total humility, recognizing that we are capable of the same sin (Galatians 6:1). Often times we can seek to better reflect a person’s heart by learning more when we ask the question, “May I have the opportunity to better understand what you are saying?”
Next time you engage with an aggressive, lovingly confront him face to face with the fact that you have connected with his heart. Because you have deflected his difficult behavior you can reflect your understanding of his desires.