Christian Love and Confrontation

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A devotional I wrote for Compassion International:

After I returned from another frustrating men’s ministry event my wife, Emily, told me “You need to quit.”

“Pardon?”

“You need to quit that ministry. You’re not using your gifts. You hate it. It’s killing you. You need to quit.”

I’d been running the men’s ministry at our previous church for close to a year. I wanted to lead a ministry that was about teaching men; instead, I was running glorified play dates for men. My wheels were spinning, but I was sure I could change things. I was too proud to admit I was wrong.

Emily hit a nerve, and my reaction lacked grace. After a conversation full of ridiculous rationalizations — my pride on full display — I agreed to quit.

In considering the Bible’s repeated commands to love one another, I’ve been reminded that love goes beyond acts of kindness and words of positive affirmation, as important as those are. In confronting me, my wife revealed an important truth: Love confronts — and love accepts correction.

As Christians, if we truly love one another as Jesus says we ought, then we need to be willing to pursue loving confrontation and be willing to humbly accept correction.

I know that for many of us, this is an uncomfortable — even terrifying — idea. These kinds of conversations require us to be vulnerable. But regardless of age, stage, position or pay grade, none of us is exempt from the need to be confronted and accept correction.

In reading the Scriptures, I am continually challenged by God’s great love and His willingness to confront His people — often with very harsh words (Jeremiah 2:20; Galatians 3:1; Revelation 2–3). If God is willing, should we do likewise? If God is directing you to speak to someone, will you speak?

Love is costly. It requires vulnerability and humility. But in the end, it will always be worth it.

And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. —1 John 4:21, NIV

Prayer: Father, help us to show true love to one another — to not only speak words of affirmation and encouragement, but, in love, be willing to have hard conversations. Let our words be gracious and our hearts be humble, and let our love prove our testimony true.

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