As women, many of us want to avoid hard conversations, and I think the biggest reason for this is fear.
We fear what the other person will think of us. We fear their reaction. What if they go proper mental on us? We fear that they won’t ever want to speak to us again. We worry about the words we are going to use. What if we get tongue-tied? Say it in the wrong tone, come across all aggressive? Or what if we are completely wrong? Maybe we have misunderstood what has been said or misread their behaviour? Or we can try to hide behind thoughts like, “the elders should do it, I’m not a women’s worker so maybe she should do it” or “I’m just not a confrontational person.”
What Love Demands
Let’s face it, none of us like being on the receiving end of a hard conversation where someone is challenging our sin. Equally, none of us relish the thought of having to have those conversations. But the Bible is clear. We have a responsibility to our fellow brothers and sisters to love them enough to stop them carrying on down a sinful road, whether that be in their behaviour, thoughts, or words. Do you realise that it is actually far more loving to intervene in someone’s life than to let them carry on in sin? That it is far more loving to have that hard conversation than not to?
For some reason today, we think that we are being unloving if we bring challenge to someone. This isn’t just in Christian circles, either. This train of thought has trickled into every area of society. We see it in parents who are trying to coax their children away from something dangerous: “Aww Billy please come away from the edge of the road.” Rather than: “GET AWAY FROM THE EDGE OF THE ROAD.” When a child is in severe danger, it would be unloving for the parent not to make a clear demand. That’s what parents do, they protect their children.
Children don’t understand the consequences of walking out onto a busy road, or trying to touch a hot oven, or sticking Lego in the socket. We know because we understand the bigger picture. We know that if they do any of those things, they will get injured, maybe even killed.
This principle should flow over into our discipleship relationships. Those of us who are further down the road know all too well, often from personal experience, the consequences of not repenting and not dealing with sinful habits. Or of leaving faulty thinking unchecked.
Test Against God’s Word
God has given us a manual in the Bible, and it is there for our own spiritual growth and the growth of others. We know what God expects because He has told us plainly. We aren’t left in the dark, wondering how a Christian should behave.
So, if you do have that thought about whether something needs challenging, go back to the Word and check it out. It is so important that we use the Bible as our measuring rod because, otherwise, we could just be challenging people about stuff they do that we don’t like! It’s not necessarily sinful, it’s just that they have different likes and dislikes to us.
The more you get to know a person, the more you discover about their personalities, their preferences, etc. Some of these things can grate on us just because others are different from us. Remember, just because someone does something differently than you doesn’t mean they are sinning! We need to put our own preferences to the side and use the standards God has given us as our guide. In doing so, we are loving brothers and sisters as Christ loves them.
Underpinning all of this should be our fear of the Lord rather than our fear of man. We should be much more concerned with the state of someone’s soul rather than what they think of us.
“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”(Prov. 29:25)
This is part two in a series on conflict. You can read part one here.