When should you wisely confront someone during interpersonal conflict? Timing is everything, so your confronting should not take place too early, too late, or in the heat of the battle. Solomon penned: “A man finds joy in giving an apt reply, and how good is a timely word” (Proverbs 15:23). The wise king warned of reaching out too early: “If a man loudly blesses his neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse” (Proverbs 27:14). He illustrated the value of the right word spoken at the right time: “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). In order to speak the right word at the right time, you must have one ear toward God and one ear to those you encounter, avoiding confrontation during the heat of the battle (see Proverbs 29:11).
Why should you wisely confront? Ask yourself, “Is it for your benefit or theirs? Is your motive to advance the heart of Christ?” Solomon revealed: “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart” (Proverbs 21:2). God examines your motives. Consequently, you must verify through the Holy Spirit that your intentions are noble, for the benefit of others and to advance the heart of Christ. If not, you will confront out of your own pride, under the illusion that you will feel better on the inside. However, that is rarely the case.
Paul reasoned: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). God desires that you reconcile, owning any contribution you have made toward the conflict. You will be tempted to go on autopilot with those closest to you and confront harshly, so avoid that coarse sandpaper of the soul by first defining your conflict, determining what two objects are attempting to occupy the same space at the same time.
How should you confront wisely? Communicate humbly and gently in your nonverbal cues. Do not confront by text, email, social media, or letter, unless there is no other option. Tone of voice, body posture, hand gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions should communicate humility and gentleness. Solomon noted: “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:13). He also taught: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
When you communicate humbly and gently, your speech is gracious. Solomon said: “He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend” (Proverbs 22:11). He noted: “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control” (Proverbs 29:11). Paul taught: “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).
When you confront wisely, only after taking your conflict to God, ignoring insults, turning the other cheek, and overlooking an offense, the Restorer will use you to advance His kingdom in the hearts and lives of those around you, as He deepens your communion with Him and your community with others.