December 26, 2017 – The A.C.T. of Confrontation – Pr. Noleen Mendes

Scripture:
9-10 Earlier I wrote something along this line to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves being in charge, denigrates my counsel. If I come, you can be sure I’ll hold him to account for spreading vicious rumors about us. As if that weren’t bad enough, he not only refuses hospitality to traveling Christians but tries to stop others from welcoming them. Worse yet, instead of inviting them in he throws them out.- 3 John 9-10 (MSG)

Observation:
This here is evidence that John’s teaching on loving our brothers and sisters never meant that we should allow them to behave arrogantly and prideful. Diotrephes’ behavior was totally un-Christlike and needed to be addressed. If we are to preach the love of Christ, then we cannot stand back and watch others act in opposition to what we are preaching. In fact, to do so would be a disservice to those who put their trust in our teaching.

Application:
Addressing a critical issue with a church member is always risky. But if it’s valid, the risk is worth it, no matter the outcome. With that being said, we need to be certain that we are not coming across in the same manner as the one we’re addressing. This act of courage takes serious prayer and, even more importantly, serious listening. If we don’t come to God with this, then we’re going it alone and that could be dangerous territory. There are certain things to carefully watch out for before we ACT on behalf of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ:

1. Approach – The approach in every situation is different. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get God’s take on it. Galatians 6:1-2 says:Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

Crucial Scripture right here! It would seem like Diotrephes needed an “in-your-face” confrontation but that is rarely the case. A soft answer turns away wrath and this can be a teachable moment for both people.

2. Critical Spirit – Be sure to guard against a critical spirit. Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ when we are tempted to lash out. Proverbs 15:2 says: The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. The Holy Spirit is our counselor, our guide, our teacher. Listen for His small, still voice to lead and guide you into all truth.

3. Timing – Timing is everything in approaching any critical issue. For one thing, if you’re having a not-so-good day, it’s probably not a good time to address any issue. So pray for the God’s timing. God will bring perfect peace to those who’s mind is stayed on Him. You don’t want to delay resolving this issue but you also want it to be at the best time possible.

Speaking the truth in love is rarely an easy task. A pastor once shared a real life incident where he confronted a Sunday School teacher regarding something he discovered about her and told her he couldn’t allow her to teach the kids any longer. She was offended, even though he spoke the truth in love. However, in due time, she apologized, told her Pastor she understood, and asked for forgiveness. As pastors, we have the responsibility to protect the sheep we are called to care for and that means taking on the courageous ACT of confrontation. That is our part. Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit and we need to trust Him to do what only He can do in the time He chooses to do it.

Prayer:
Father God, although I’ve never had to address any critical issue within the Body of Christ, may I be courageous enough to do so and do so in love, ACTing on your behalf for the sake of Your people. Holy Spirit, may I be guided by the truth of the Word and the love of Christ when addressing an issue with a brother or sister. In Jesus Name I pray…Amen.