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Graceful Confrontation

Let’s talk about confrontation.

Some of you are already squirming in your seat, depending on your personality and what you think of confrontation.

Within my own family, there are various ways confrontation is handled. My husband Mark would welcome the chance to teach, correct, and speak truth in a confrontational moment. Two of my kids would have jumped at the opportunity to tell someone they were wrong. The other two would probably overlook the offense and “love” them, leaving the confrontation to Dad or a sibling. I would rather clean a toilet than have to confront anyone at any time, in any situation…well, mostly.

It’s not that I don’t see the value of confrontation. It’s not that I don’t want to speak the truth and help someone improve their life. I hate the uncomfortableness of it all. Pointing out an error. Making people feel awkward. Revealing to someone they need to correct their thinking, actions, or thoughts toward a matter.

But sometimes, people are wrong. So, what then?

Here are three ways to handle confrontation.

1. Speaking the truth. Harsh as it may be, the truth must be told.

2. Choosing to “love” and not address the issue at hand. Both of these ways are common and yet incomplete. I put the word love in quotations because avoiding the truth not to upset someone isn’t loving them.

3. Speak the truth in love.

How do we speak the truth in love? Let’s go to His word for the answer.

My life group studied John 8 together. I loved the marriage of grace and confrontation Jesus displayed for us in this chapter. Here, we find Jesus confronted by the scribes and Pharisees. Interestingly, they felt Jesus needed correcting.

How did Jesus respond to them? How did He respond to the woman caught in adultery at the beginning of this chapter? These two responses hold the key to how to confront gracefully.

They brought this woman to Jesus in an attempt to trap him. What is the right thing to do with people caught in sin? He acknowledged the challenge and sat down to write in the dirt.

But why? What did He write? We can only speculate. That part isn’t included in His word. I actually like that.

Some things are not for you. The charge is to trust and learn even when you don’t get every question answered. What we do know is that when Jesus says, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone,” everyone walked away. Not a stone was thrown. And the woman was left alone with Him. “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?” Jesus asks.

“No one, Lord.”

Jesus responded with truth in love. “Neither do I condemn you: go and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:10-11)

He doesn’t dismiss her sin. By saying this, he addressed that her behavior was sin. It’s in His amazing grace that he dismissed her from that horrible situation, aware of her sin, forgiven, and aware of his grace. His command to stop sinning fell on forgiven, loved ears.

Look at how Jesus confronted the Pharisees as they were trying to trap, condemn, and even justify killing him. How did He respond? Did he cower, or veil who He was?

No. His authority remained. He has always been God. Jesus did not cater to the Pharisees because of their disbelief or their desire to validate themselves. He always speaks the truth, in love.

The truth of who Jesus is is your salvation; the salvation of all mankind.

So what is the difference between these two confrontations?

The woman in no way was trying to justify her sin. She never once offered up excuses. Never once did she yell at the crowd and throw accusations at them. She was guilty. The crowd knew it, and she knew it.

But what of the Pharisees? How was their attitude toward Christ’s truth spoken over them? They fumed. They sputtered. They plotted. They never once considered Christ’s rebuke. Never once did they think about what He was telling them about themselves. Their hearts were hardened, and their minds were set on proving Jesus wrong and removing Him from their lives.

The woman pressed into Him. The Pharisees rejected Him.

But Jesus never once watered down the truth, soften the blow, or overlooked the sin.

It’s essential to understand and recognize that the people in both of these stories, the woman and the Pharisees, were both in sin. And Christ spoke the truth in love to them all.

There’s a time to confront firmly, and there is a time to confront gently. When a heart is posed to receive, the confrontation is received, and there is no battle. There is a battle when the heart is posed to fight and justify. But truth and love must remain.

We are not Christ. We sin in our anger.

The key to operating in God’s graceful confrontation is that you operate in His Spirit, not in your flesh. If the desire is to love and edify, you are acting in the fruits o the Spirit. If you confront in the flesh, you will sin in your anger. And love will be absent. And without love, you are merely clanging symbols. ( )

Christ’s Word commands to speak the truth in love and that everything you do, you are to do as unto the Lord. In John 8 Jesus gives an example of how to accomplish this correctly. Gracefully confronting through His Spirit creates an environment for the Holy Spirit to change minds and hearts, and you can be a part of that or a hindrance.

The next time you find a need to confront, check your attitude and motive. Are you walking in the flesh or the Spirit? You will know by the fruit falling from your lips.

Surrender your flesh to the Holy Spirit, and be a part of building up a soul, representing your Lord and Savior, and honoring your God.


Tina Akridge has walked through loss, and grief after losing her husband who fought cancer for eight years. She learned how to lean on God, and hopes to hold the hand of those who are going through their own loss, offering compassion to them, and helping them turn to God's promises.

Tina's writing will be a friend in those dark places, and show you where to find more peace in your life.

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