Being able to clearly express an opinion or a train of thought is a good thing. However, one of my problems is that I sometimes have problems taking it when I'm on the receiving end. I have a feeling this is a common problem.
While I was writing the confrontation post last week, I realized we probably need to talk about responding to confrontation as well. We all love to have our pride fed through a compliment and we sincerely love encouragement to continue doing things well. But don't we just hate to hear about a sin?? Ugh....I do. It's sometimes so much easier to talk about someone else's sin than it is to talk about our own. But the truth is that if other people need to have their sin pointed out, then we do as well.
If we're ever going to be able to accept correction, we need to live with a daily reminder that we are all sinners in need of grace. We need to remember that we are never going to "arrive" at some perfect place of holiness this side of heaven.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us...If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8, 10)If it's true that we're all sinners, we need to remember that sin is deceitful. And because it deceives us and blinds us to the ways in which we are living destructively, we are going to need someone to remove the scales from our eyes.
The reality of spiritual blindness has important implications for the Christian community. The Hebrews passage clearly teaches that personal insight is the product of community. I need you in order to really see and know myself. Otherwise, I will listen to my own arguments, believe my own lies, and buy into my own delusions. My self-perception is as accurate as a carnival mirror. If I am going to see myself clearly, I need you to hold the mirror of God's word in front of me. (Paul Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands, p.54)Hearing that we've sinned is extremely uncomfortable. I'm sure you've all been there. You get that e-mail, or that phone call, or you're sitting face to face with someone over a cup of coffee and they say "it". "It" usually goes something like this, "I just need to talk to you about something." That's enough to make my stomach fall into a pit. And then as you continue listening, your heart starts pounding and it's all you can do to control your breathing so that you don't start actually huffing and puffing. Maybe you clench your jaw to keep your mouth shut. Your mind is racing with justifications for your actions. My soul is just writhing around inside of me longing to scream at them!! I don't want to feel like this! I don't want to be uncomfortable! I want everything to be nice! I want you to like me! I want you to say that everything I'm doing is great! Finally the conversation ends or you reach the end of the e-mail.
My internal struggle is always between wanting to defend myself and yet intellectually knowing that I have to face it. I know that God uses hard things to grow me. I don't want to be stuck in immaturity my whole life. I would like to actually be wise someday. I remember one particular confrontation that was such a battle for me. I initially responded defensively...then moved to a tiny bit of enlightenment...then the light-bulb came on and I knew I was wrong. Let me tell you, I really did not want to apologize, not because I wasn't wrong, but because my pride was holding me back and telling me that I didn't have to look like a fool by apologizing. Thank goodness God made me strong-willed because I willed myself to tell those prideful voice to take a hike, then I told myself to suck it up and admit that I was wrong. And you know what? I actually was able to thank God afterwards for allowing that opportunity to teach me humility and to remind me of why I need awesome friends in my life. There are times in which I just cannot see the truth of my actions.
Sometimes I think it should actually set us on our guard when we are never uncomfortable because it could indicate deception. Think about this:
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. (2 Timothy 4:3)Elisabeth Elliot warns us to "be cautious when the advice given makes you feel comfortable when you know you're really wrong." (Keep a Quiet Heart, p.160). Are you too comfortable with yourself? I'm not saying it's wrong to think we have some good qualities, but are you so comfortable that you're sitting in a heap of stinking self-righteousness?
Finally, we need to remember that although Jesus was very loving towards the worst of sinners, he did not do a whole lot of ear tickling.
Though he often spoke "comfortable words", words that brought peace and hope, He spoke also those words that seared like fire. ("Depart from me, I never knew you"; "Get behind me, Satan!") and splintered rock ("You will never get out until you have paid the last farthing"; "Whoever wants to be first must be the willing slave of all").
"The form of words you shall use in speaking amongst yourselves is: 'What answer has the Lord given?' or 'What has the Lord said?' (Jeremiah 23:35 NEB). This applies, of course, only to those who care about what the Lord wants. Those who have already decided to do their own thing need not apply for truly godly counsel. (Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart, p.160)
Sharing with: Women Living Well, Deep Roots at Home, Wifey Wednesday, We Are THAT Family, Rediscovering Domesticity, Thought Provoking Thursday, Thoughtful Thursday, Hearts for Home Thursday , NOBH