The Art of Confrontation

When difficult topics come up in a relationship, the best way to proceed is by listening to the Holy Spirit.

And someone came to Him and said, ``Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?" And He said to him, ``Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." Then he said to Him, ``Which ones?" And Jesus said, ``YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER; YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY; YOU SHALL NOT STEAL; YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS; HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." The young man said to Him, ``All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?" Jesus said to him, ``If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. Matthew 19:16-22

Have you ever noticed how often Jesus said things people didn’t want to hear? He loved the rich young ruler but knew the prospect of giving up possessions would be distressing. Yet Jesus urged him anyway, because He wanted the young man to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:16-22). Or consider the woman at the well—a conversation between a Jew and a Samaritan was taboo to begin with, but Jesus even brought up the disquieting topic of her relationships with multiple men. For Him, however, the discomfort was necessary to point her in the direction of eternal life (John 4:1-29).

It’s tempting to think that if we’re nice and pleasing, then we are handling our friendships in a Christlike way. But Scripture makes it clear that keeping the status quo isn’t a Christian value. Instead, our main priority is to follow God’s Spirit—even if He leads us into uncomfortable conversations with people we love. Though we should encourage friends more often than we confront them, ultimately, we’re to rely on the Holy Spirit to know when—and how—to do both.

Think about it

Are you inclined to avoid or engage in confrontation? How might that affect your response to the Spirit’s promptings?

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