I love people. I love being around them, talking, interacting, and hanging out with them. I love the diversity of the people God created and the varying experiences they have. Human experience contains a wealth of diversity. It seems good to love people, but can this can also become a problem?
I wrestled with my love for people when someone posed a question. "Do you love people more than you love the Word of God?" Off the cusp my answer was “of course not!” Then I looked inside myself and wrestled with that challenging question. As I interacted with people, I began to wonder if my actions showed a different truth! I love God’s Word but am I willing to stand on it while speaking truths into lives of others? Am I willing to risk relationships because I care about scripture?
I feel uneasy confronting the sin I see in the lives of others. Why? Because I hate confrontation. I fear how my confrontation will be received. Have I invested enough in the relationship that my criticism will be received as care rather than as condemnation? Will you take it with a grain of salt? Will you appreciate my concern? Will you get angry and storm out? Will you ever want to speak to me again? With these concerns battling in my mind, I just keep my mouth shut.
I had a “discussion” years ago with someone which blossomed into accusations and awkward silence. In the end one of us left the room. The problem? I completely failed at speaking the truth in the context of love (Eph 4:15). Difficult conversations require the relationship first have a context of grace.
We interact with people every single day. Whether they a believers or not, we represent the love of Jesus. The Gospel message instructs “we should love one another” (1 John 3). The gospel resonates with grace because of the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. He is the example that we are called to imitate.
Do you love the Word of God more than you love God’s people? Our answer should be a firm “yes.” God loves people more than you or I do.
So what are we to do when brothers and sisters sin? What are we to do when the lives of others around us stray from the Word of God? How are we to move forward with speaking the truth of God in love?
Before charging into confrontation, pause and take a compassionate posture. Here are a few suggestions that I try to follow:
Relationships are challenging and no one likes conflict, but sometimes hard truths need to be spoken. Place the situation at the feet of God so you can rest in his control of the situation. Assume a humble posture and speak God's truth.
Can we control how they will respond? No we cannot. But God does not hold us responsible for others. Romans 12 instructs, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." We are responsible only for what depends on us. So in as much as it depends on you seek to live out God's grace with one another.