Do these words have meaning for you? Difficult relationships, back stabbing, deceit, lies, neglect, distant relationships, break ups, and avoidance.
God instructs us to speak the truth in love to one another. Something we are generally not good at doing. We are good at speaking the truth in anger, but having a calm and quiet conversation about some really hard things? We aren’t so good at that. Well I am not that good at it. I hope you are.
I became a Christian counselor many years ago and was a ministry leader for many years. I was involved in a church for over ten years that practiced biblical confrontation. This meant I got really good at confronting people in love with the truth and being confronted by the truth. Now there are books and many blog posts that could be written about the abuse of biblical confrontation, but for now let’s simply talk about going to people we love and being honest with them in a loving way that promotes each others welfare and peace in our lives and home.
Galatians 2:11 states, “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.”
Early in Galatians Paul confronted Peter. Here he makes it clear to the false apostles that he confronted Peter to his face. There wasn’t anything done in secret. Paul confronted Peter face to face because the gospel was at stake. He did not take into consideration his position as an apostle or in the church.
Paul saved the Christian church at that time a lot of trouble by confronting Peter face to face. The last thing Jesus’s newly formed church needed was more trouble. It was vital that His followers do what they could to maintain peace with each other. Paul did that by dealing with Peter one on one.
As usual following simple precepts as a Christian is very difficult. Jesus doesn’t ask me to cut my forearm and give Him a pint of my blood everyday. He asks me to speak the truth to people and be nice when I do it thinking more of them than I do myself, but oh how hard that is! Some days I would rather give my blood as a sacrifice versus be nice to people.
“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another” (Eph. 4:25)
If Paul had handled the situation with Peter differently then chaos would have ensued. If Paul had talked to everyone but Peter rumors would have ensued and a division among believers would have grown out of control. Gossip would have seeped into the corners of that world and caused unbelievers more doubt in Jesus Christ and His church. Satan feeds off of lies and has fun with them. Its’ why God wants us to go to one another. Satan can’t feed off of truth. He can’t create evil from obedience.
An extended family sits around the dinner table. Some members of that family are causing division, one is the prodigal son, some are in pain and suffering, some need the love of Christ, and some are simply tired of these boring dinners.
You sit next to the family member that is causing division. You take the opportunity to quietly talk about why they are causing trouble. With a quiet and reverent tone you ask questions so that you can understand what is really going on and their motives for acting, if they even are. Later on when you sit by another family member and they start gossiping about the divisive situation you are able to speak truth about the situation. You are able to stop the gossip and work towards creating a peaceful situation in that home.
The world is a dark and scary place. We are a hurting, lonely, and often hopeless people. We don’t need to add gossip and lies to insult. We desperately need love. We need someone to say I hear you are angry, I heard you were in the middle of a divorce, I understand you don’t like that person, how can I help? What is going on? I don’t believe you really want to live through the consequences of the path that you are on?
No matter how hard it is to accept the truth from others or to speak the truth to others it is always easier than living a lie or in the midst of gossip. Paul loved Peter so much that he was willing to overcome his fears and face Peter. He wanted Peter to get back on track and for the church to be strengthened and facing Peter head on accomplished that.
God asks us to speak the truth in love and He will give us the strength to do that. Though it may be difficult to do that for a moment the blessing for having obeyed God will far outweigh your discomfort. It is the most powerful act we can perform today towards showing others that God’s ways are pretty awesome and how we can prove that truth always leads to life.
Following God, messing the whole thing up, and then trying again,