Learning To Confront

(2 Cor. 2:1–4)

Sometime ago David Augsburger wrote an excellent book called Caring Enough to Confront. In it he showed that if we really care about others, we will be willing to confront them when their actions call for it. Paul, who cared enough to confront the Corinthians in his first letter, shows us here just how to go about confronting.

First, he confronted to avoid a greater grief that would otherwise distort their relationship (v. 1). Confronting is a way to keep relationships strong and warm, for things left unmentioned can bring grief.

Second, his goal was not to hurt but to heal (v. 2). Confrontation works only when your motive is to help the other person. Don’t think you can confront in anger or antagonism. Your hostility will come through more strongly than any of your words.

Third, he expected a positive response. It takes a large dose of trust in others to free us to confront. Paul’s trust had solid roots in his faith in God. He knew God was at work in his brothers and sisters. God would use his blunt words to help them and to heal.

Finally, Paul hurt with the Corinthians as he confronted them. He wrote “out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears” (v. 4). Confrontation must grow out of and be an expression of love. You need to hurt along with the person you confront. Your pain will prove your love, and move the other person to respond.

Do you care enough to confront others when they go wrong? Be sure your confrontation is marked by a desire to deepen the relationship, by love, by positive expections—and by personal grief and pain.

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