prayerfully obeying (when loving confrontation may be needed)

“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

There are times when we must immediately obey. For example, Jesus’ imperative to turn the other cheek to be struck again, I take it because of the witness (in life or word) of him. Or when cursed, we should bless. But there are other times, depending on the association and circumstances, when one might do well to wait and pray, before attempting to lovingly confront. Albeit there may be a word in wisdom the Lord might give one during such circumstances.

Our Lord’s word quoted above is with regard to a brother or sister in Jesus, another disciple or follower of Jesus. It is not with reference to others. It is a family matter, so to speak, bringing hurt and rupture in fellowship.

I would like to wait and pray. One can’t go on as if nothing has happened. Oh yes, on some things we can. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” But on other matters we don’t do them any favors to let it go. And besides, we may need something of restoration in the matter ourselves, even if we were not at fault. On the other hand, there may be something, perhaps even an attitude such as a judgmental spirit, which we may have contributed to the matter. For a number of reasons, it may be good not to jump in and try to correct the problem right away. Perhaps we need the time to pray and reflect, just as much as the party who injured us does. We need to be praying for both they and ourselves, that God will bring his light into the matter.

And then there is the time to lovingly confront. Hopefully by then they have come to you and repented. And you’ve had a good exchange. But if not, then one might confront them by asking them questions, and trying to explain why one did what they did. At any rate what needs to prevail is love, the love of the Lord.

And when fellowship is restored, there can be at least a new knowledge and sensitivity toward each other. And hopefully a deeper love. Yes, wounds can hurt, but that doesn’t mean fellowship can’t be restored, and deepened. Deepened even out of the hurt.

What if there is no restoration of fellowship? We can lovingly confront, but then we simply must pray. If a church matter, then we should obey our Lord’s words. A break due to sin in refusing to have fellowship with one of God’s children is a serious matter indeed, and puts one in danger of losing out altogether, if we take our Lord’s words seriously. We won’t always be close to others after restoration has taken place. But we do need to forgive and go on, and work at loving each other, out of the love of God in Jesus by the Spirit that has been poured out on us. Together in Jesus for the world.