This is the third and final part of my notes on Biblical Confrontation--Speaking the Truth in Love. I will be leading a seminar next week at the regional gathering based on these notes. After we return home, I'll summarize my thoughts and talk about how this is applicable in a missionary calling and in the IMB Western Europe Region context.
Below are further excepts from the book, Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands, by Paul David Tripp.
As in all aspects of personal ministry, confrontation must not only be shaped by biblical goals, but by biblical methods as well. When Paul instructs members of the body to minister to one another, he says, "Speak the truth (content) in love (method)" Ephesians 4:15. Truth that is not spoken in love ceases to be truth because it is twisted by other human agendas. Love that is not guided by truth ceases to be love because it is not guided by God's agenda.
We are not advocating a "reading the riot act" form of confrontation, where the receiver is silent and the confronter lays out a list of offenses. In scripture the more common style of confrontation is interaction. The confronter stands alongside the person, helping him to see, telling stories, asking questions, drawing out answers, and then calling for a response. Christ winsomely employed this method of confrontation in his parables. (See Luke 7:36-50; 14:1-14.)
Another example of interactive confrontation is found in 2 Samuel 12:1-7 "...Then Nathan said to David, 'You are the man!'" Nathan's approach is noteworthy in at least a dozen respects:
1. Note the severity of the issues.
2. Note the degree of spiritual blindness. The more outrageous the sin, the more fundamental the blindness that covers it.
3. Nathan's patient manner.
4. Nathan tells a story, an extended metaphor to open the eyes of David's heart.
5. The story is built on subject matter related to David's life (sheep).
6. In Nathan's interactive style of confrontation, the focus is on the story, with the goal of stimulating David to see what he has not seen.
7. The story is short on details, yet very specific in application. The story is not the goal; it is a means to the goal.
8. The story accomplishes its goal, resulting in a heart reaction.
9. Notice that David is the first person to speak after the story is completed. The story leads David to confront himself, even before he realizes the application to his life.
10. Nathan follows David's self-confrontation by specifically applying the story to his sins of adultery and murder.
11. David then speaks clear words of confession that are free of blame shifting or excuse making.
12. Nathan ends by assuring David of God's forgiveness and the consequences of the sin.
In truth speaking, the principle is to start with interaction. This includes:
Two-way communication--this is the only way to know if the person being confronted has understood what you are pointing out; if he has owned what needs to be admitted and confessed; and if he is committed to new ways of living.
Use of metaphor--find things in a person's life that illustrates truths or reveals sins he needs to see.
Self-confronting statements--here you encourage the person to make connections between your examples and his own life. Don't make connections for him!
Summary--here you summarize all that God wants to teach the person and call him to respond in a heartfelt way. Communicate the general principles of Scripture in a way that is concretely applicable to this particular person, so that he walks away not only with a clear sense of conviction, but a clear sense of call as well.
It is tragic when we are too busy to see the need around us. It is terrible when we see the wrong going on but trim the truth because loving, humble rebuke takes us beyond the borders of our safe lives and casual relationships. These responses are the fruit of self-love that has replaced a love for God. The ministry of loving, humble, biblical truth speaking always begins with examining our own hearts.
We have been called to participate in the most important activity in the universe. God is taking rebellious, self-absorbed people and changing them into those who pursue holiness for the sake of his glory, even as they suffer in a fallen world. To this end he has called us to call sinners to repentance, incarnating his presence and work.
Paul David Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands. Notes from Chapter 12 entitled, "The Process of Speaking the Truth in Love", pp230-237. P&R Publishing, Resources for Changing Lives. © 2002. http://www.ccef.org/.