“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
Proverbs 27:17 (ESV)
It strikes fear in my heart. It’s not something I want to do, but if I don’t do it, I’m dishonoring God and not helping someone I love. What is this important thing? It’s confrontation.
We were made for fellowship (Genesis 2:18), and because we’re all different there is a 100 percent chance that we will disagree with someone at some point in our relationship with them. Even more so, because we are humans living in a fallen world, sin is inevitable and we will need to speak with one another to help each other get back on track. This takes confrontation and discipline.
Proverbs 27:17 illustrates this principle – we encourage each other to be our best when we “rub against” each other, which includes pointing one another toward Christlike behavior. When two pieces of metal are rubbed together, both pieces are made more sharp. This is a picture of what it can be like when we confront someone on their behavior.
Just like friction and sparks occur when two pieces of metal rub together, it can be painful when we confront others on their wrongful behavior. Despite the pain, it is always better to be truthful and to point someone back to Christ than to ignore ungodly behavior and allow someone to continue on a destructive path (Proverbs 28:23). While discipline is not pleasant at the time it is received, God promises peace and righteousness when it is administered appropriately (Hebrews 12:11).
So, when and how do we know when to confront someone?
We confront others when they are doing something that hinders their walk with Christ, hurting themselves or hurting you directly. The ultimate goal of confronting another person is to point them back to God and to restore your relationship with them.
We should confront others in love and after much prayer over the situation. Ask God for the right words to say, the right time to say those words and for the other person’s heart to be receptive to those words.
For those who need to confront someone close this week, I pray you have the courage and love to say meaningful words that will restore your loved one to you and to God.