Excerpt from the book
Tools for Improving Relationships
from Chapter Nine –
Sowing Seeds of Peace – Principles of Loving Confrontation
Those Awful Blind Spots
Many times we see in another person certain behaviors that not only offend others, but are genuine and dangerous blocks to their own spiritual growth. This is a problem deeper than the occasional, everyday relationship scrapes we discussed earlier.
David wrote, “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it.” God wants us to realize that helping another to see his blind spots, to recognize his weaknesses, is an expression of love, not one of rejection and judgment. He wants too, for us to be willing to be confronted; to be open to correction.
In our hearts, we feel an obligation to go to that friend and tell them how their behavior is causing a problem. Many times, though, we back out. We think, Who am I to talk? I’m not perfect either. Or, That’s just Kevin. He’s been that way as long as I’ve known him. He just has a “blind spot.” Or we think that we are supposed to accept one another blindly, faults and all. After all, we tell ourselves, Christ accepted me.
I want to point out a crucial distinction between the popular usage of the word acceptance, and the biblical usage of the word. In large part, we made the distinction earlier: Biblical acceptance means a willingness to help “carry each other’s burdens,” as Paul directs. But that verse is so often quoted out-of-context by those of us who have huge pools of compassion in our hearts. Paul says, in the verse right before that, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.”
The gently part should help the compassionate ones among us to accept another of the most important biblical relationship principles. As Paul said, we are called to speak “the truth in love” to one another.
Watch Out for Motivation
In my experience, this principle seems to give Christians a great deal of trouble. Some feel it gives them the right to pick others apart for anything at any time. Others think: “It really wouldn’t be loving to point out someone’s flaws or sins, would it? Better not to say anything at all.”
It is crucial for us to recognize God’s ultimate purpose for giving us this responsibility in our relationships. Our passage here tells us to love each other in this way so that we will “in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”
Our confrontation, then, should be with the goal of restoration. “My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”
Our purpose in going to correct a brother, then, is not to force him to conform to our standards or opinions, but to help him to grow in maturity in the body of Christ. And our attitude in going should be that of a servant, not someone who has a right to correct because our behavior makes us holier or more mature. We are to go because we serve Christ and He tells us to go. Humbly.
It’s important, then, that the setting be private and comfortable. In this way, we can direct a friend’s attention to one of their blind spots without destroying their dignity or self-esteem. This approach — commitment mixed with a caring atmosphere — is often enough to help a friend let down their defenses and listen to what we have to say.
© Beverly Caruso