May 25, 2023

“If your brother (or sister) sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother…For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.”


Matthew 18:15, 20


Confrontation is not my favorite thing. Sometimes, though, it is inevitable. If I don’t confront, something even worse is going to happen: the weakening of a good program, the souring of a relationship with a colleague—sometimes the good reputation of our church is at stake. So I have to confront. I prepare for that. I pray and I plan. How should this confrontation transpire?


Should I really let my anger go? Is the goal to spiritually annihilate the other person or persons? Should they leave our conversation feeling chastised, judged by me and God, idiotic, wrong, and sinful?


Jesus gives me some guidelines, in the passage above. (He also goes into detail about how to proceed past the first step, if the person doesn’t want to repent and get things turned around—something that I and your other pastors have rarely had to do.)


Jesus says to go in person, alone, and tell the other person what they have done that has wronged you. “If he listens to you, you have gained your brother or sister.” The point of this whole confrontation is to salvage your close brother-sister relationship! Not to rage, annihilate, chastise or shame, but to rebuild the bond between you, to rescue and restore what you once had.


When I go to confront, I remember that the goal is sisterhood, brotherhood.  I’m honest about how the rupture made me feel but I am also listening carefully and kindly to my friend or colleague about why this might have happened. I remember that when the two of us are together, talking about our breach, Jesus is there with us. I don’t know about you, but that makes me think carefully, as I consider what to say, about the compassion and forgiveness I have had from Jesus that I now can share with my friend or colleague.


Jesus makes confrontation a means of restoration, compassion, real listening, brother and sisterhood. By myself, it might just devolve into anger. But where two or three are gathered, Jesus is there with us.

For Discussion

Have you had confrontations that just blew up in your face?


Have you had some confrontations that went well and really healed a relationship?


How can confrontation be redemptive?


Dear Lord, I am afraid of confrontation. But there are times when I must confront someone. Help me to have the spirit of compassion and grace as I confront. Help me to remember that the goal is to restore a relationship. Lord, be with me as I confront in a healthy and godly way, in your presence, and with your help. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Rev. Vicki Franch
Pastor for Pastoral Care