Confronting sin in another person’s life can be a challenging thing to do, but it is essential if we desire to “spur one another along in love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). One of our 8 Essentials of Healthy Groups is Scripture. We rely on the truth of God’s Word as the final authority in our lives and in our Cell Groups. God’s Word is profitable for teaching, rebuke, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16), so let’s dive into how the Scripture can inform us in this area of confrontation.
Prepare for the conversation – “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.” (Proverbs 15:28)
- When we see sin in someone’s life, it may be tempting to go on the attack right away. While we should never shy away from confronting sin, it is important to have a game plan. Think through ways that you can tactfully bring the problem to their attention. Consider things like time and place to bring up the issue, and be mindful of ways that you are given to sin yourself. Remember what Matthew 7 says about getting the log out of your own eye first!
Affirm your relationship – “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6)
- When you rebuke someone’s sin, it can be a very hard thing for them to hear. It is important for them to understand that you are coming at the situation from a place of love towards them, and a desire to see them be more like Jesus. Take some time before diving into the problem to tell them why you appreciate them or to simply affirm your love for them.
Attack the problem, not the person – “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil… Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:25-27, 29-32)
- Be honest, but always speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
- Avoid “unwholesome words” that attack a person’s character, tear down, or hinder growth (James 3:5-12).
- Our words should always be edifying, giving grace with an aim at producing growth in the person we are confronting. Zero in on the conflict and be solution-oriented!
Leave them with hope and a plan – “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
- Remind the person of the Gospel and the hope we have in Christ! If someone is a child of God, then their old, sinful bodies have been crucified with Christ and they no longer have to be a slave of sin (Romans 6).
- Come up with specific steps for change. What is something they can do this week to put off their sinful behaviors and replace them with God-honoring ones?
- Avoid vague commitments. Be intentional. (Example: Instead of saying “I will try to love my spouse better this week” say “I will make a point to cook my spouse their favorite meal this Friday night.”)