During interpersonal conflict, do you struggle with confrontation? Confront literally means “face to face.” Only after first taking your conflict to God, ignoring insults, turning the other cheek, and overlooking an offense, can you wisely and lovingly confront another person.
Who should you confront? Examine the relationship you have with the person involved in your conflict. Have you earned the right to be heard? Solomon counseled: “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel (Proverbs 27:9). If you have invested in the relationship, prior to any confrontation, then it is likely you have built a bridge to your friend’s heart, making it relationally appropriate for you to walk across and offer sincere advice.
What should you say in wise confrontation? Choose your words wisely. Your words must be fitting: “The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse” (Proverbs 10:32). Fitting is translated from the Hebrew word, ratson. The NASB translates ratson as acceptable, which means “bringing favor, or good will.” When your words are fitting, you bring favor and good will to your conversations.
When you have wisdom in your heart, your words will be wise and convicting through the power of the Holy Spirit. Solomon taught: “A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction” (Proverbs 16:23). Your most powerful source of instruction is the Word of God. The more you get into the Word, the more the Word gets into you. In order to transfer the wisdom of God in confrontation, you must humbly teach the Word, as if you could commit the same sin you see in your counterpart.
Where should you confront? Be sure to confront in private, just between the two of you, in an unthreatening setting, not in front of others. Jesus taught: “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over” (Matthew 18:15). In doing so, you must not betray another party’s confidence. Solomon warned: “If you argue your case with a neighbor, do not betray another man’s confidence, or he who hears it may shame you and you will never lose your bad reputation” (Proverbs 25:9-10).
Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance regarding who you confront, wisdom for what you should say, and discernment in where you confront. He will navigate you through conflict to community.