Caring enough to confront
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. – Proverbs 27:6
4 Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood, but jealousy is even more dangerous.
5 An open rebuke is better than hidden love!
6 Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.
9 The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.
Dr. David Augsburger’s Caring Enough to Confront unfolds the art of peacemaking. It covers significant issues such as dealing with blame and prejudice, building trust, and handling anger and frustration. He recognizes that conflict is simply a part of human interaction.
Trying to avoid or gloss over contentious issues provides no healing and allows things to fester and grow out of proportion. Bringing matters into the open is essential. No one can control how people respond to us, but we can control how we respond to them.
Dr. Augsburger “challenges readers to keep in mind that the important issue is not what the conflict is about, but instead how the conflict is handled.” He lays out how children of the King can confront with compassion and resolve issues in a healthy and healing way. The goal is a Win-Win outcome. Deeper, loving care and relationships are often the result.
Paul wrote the Corinthians a stern letter and had mixed feelings. He did what was right and necessary. But it was undoubtedly a bit painful for him because he sincerely loved them. But he cared enough to confront and demonstrate his love. The result was beautiful. The Corinthians repented and made things right.
2 Corinthians 7:8-9
8 I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while.
9 Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so we did not harm you in any way.
Paul was very concerned about the immoral behavior that was occurring in Corinth. The time had come for a harsh word of rebuke. “The last thing Paul wished was to rebuke. He did it only because he felt compelled to do so and took no pleasure whatever in inﬂicting pain. . .. Paul’s sole object in giving rebuke was to enable people to be what they ought to be. By his rebuke, he wished the Corinthians to see just how serious he was in his concern for them, in spite of their disobedience and their troublemaking.”
“Such a course might, for the moment, cause pain, but its ultimate purpose was not the pain; it was not to knock them down, but to lift them up; it was not to discourage them, but to encourage them; it was not simply to eradicate the evil, but to make the good grow” (Barclay).
REFLECT & PRAY
Jonah had severely misplaced priorities. He cared more about plants than people. The Father cares more about people regardless of their sins or failures. The Lord Jesus Christ died for people, not plants or animals.
Father encourage me to care enough to confront others with love and encourage them to do what is right.
Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Henry Blackaby remarks, “It is possible to be too gentle with your friends. When a friend is under deep conviction by the Holy Spirit, do you try to give comfort? Don’t ever try to ease the discomfort of someone whom the Holy Spirit is making uncomfortable . . .! You are not acting in true friendship if you condone disobedience or even if you look the other way. Kisses are far more pleasant than wounds, yet they can be even more devastating if they lull your friend into being comfortable with sin.
In our attempt to appease our friends and our reluctance to share a word from God, we can actually cause great harm. If we see our friends in danger and do not warn them . . .. Are you a friend of such integrity that you would risk wounding your friends in order to deter them from their sin?” (Experiencing God Day-by-Day, May 12).
The Greek word translated as downcast, depressed, discouraged, or downhearted is tapeinos. This word could be translatedas lowly or low in spirit and typically refers to the humble demeanor of people (Luke 14:11; James 4:10).
Paul had been hammered by various external troubles as well as internal distress. “The term has been rendered ‘low in spirit’ (NAB); ‘distressed’ (NJB); ‘depressed’ (Phillips); ‘dejected’ (Moffatt)” (UBS).
Here Paul describes his emotional state of sadness, even depression, due to his concerns for the Corinthians.
“At any time, the Father may bring dissonance into our lives. When it happens, it is not pleasant. But the Father is following an eternal blueprint worked out before He established the foundations of the Earth. We do not know all the factors as to why He does this; however, there is one thing that we do know, ‘the Father is too good to do wrong and He is too wise to make a mistake’” (Richison).
On the other hand, due to our fallen DNA, we are all too capable of making one mistake after another. But thank God. He has given us the ability to make choices. The goal is to make better and better choices as we grow wiser and closer to the Father.
Deuteronomy 30:19 Today, I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life so that you and your descendants might live!
When our lives are out of harmony with the Father, we are out of tune. Our lives are in discord. We do not have music but noise in our souls. When we return to the Father and walk with Him, psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs flood our hearts (Ephesians 5:19) (Richison).
In His dealings with us, He desires that the emotional struggles we experience be but temporary. We should purpose to glean the lessons He is teaching us, and experience His gentle and delightful comfort and encouragement.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.
4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.
Jonah provides an Old Testament example for children of the King to consider and learn from. He was called to be a prophet and submit to the Father. But he utterly refused. He made a poor choice, an abysmal choice, and tried to run away as far as possible. We all know the story. The Father located him and used a biological submarine transportation system, a.k.a. the great fish or whale. Jonah repented and became compliant and obedient. But he was still given to anger and depression. He was so downcast he wanted to die.
1 This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry.
2 So he complained to the LORD about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people.
3 Just kill me now, LORD! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
The Father’s confrontation with swift and direct. He had only one question.
Jonah 4:4 The LORD replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”
The Father asks the same question of every child of the King. Is it right to be angry?
“A Jonah lurks in every Christian heart, whispering his insidious message of smug prejudice, empty traditionalism, and exclusive solidarity. And we grasp the message of the book only when we eliminate the Jonah within us” (Leslie Allen).
Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your lives.
Haggai 2:19 Yet from this day on, I will bless you.
© Dr. H 2022