In Titus 1:10-16, Paul details the detestable actions and characteristics of the rebellious people around Titus in Crete (e.g., full of meaningless talk and deception, teaches things that should not be taught, seeks dishonest gain, follows deceptive myths and human commands, corrupted thus impure, claims to know God but their actions deny Him, and disobedient to God).
Paul then urges Titus to rebuke them sharply not only to silence them (since they are disrupting households) but for them to come to repentance. Paul tells Titus to speak the truth because such truth, no matter how sharp it’ll be, is for their sake. If we think about it, Paul and Titus won’t earn anything from rebuking them of their ways. They are already disciples of Christ regardless. But it was clear that their motives were to honor God and love others with the truth.
I did not grow up with this kind of attitude like Paul. I am used to be non-confrontational. During my teenage years, when I have complaints and hurts about situations and people, I keep it to myself or I burst it out on others or worse the social media. The thought of speaking my mind directly to the person concerned frightens me. Confrontations to me are uncomfortable and awkward that’s why I avoid it as much as possible.
I was not raised in a home where speaking my mind is valued. When I speak my mind or if I cry, I don’t get heard and discussed with, instead I get yelled at, bruised, slapped and spanked. When I reason out, my parent gets offended so I opt not to do it anymore so I can feel “safe”.
So growing up, I was scared of telling my classmates and friends their offences, thinking that I might hurt or offend them if I do. I conceal the truth and hurts in my heart, thinking that the friendship matters more than the truth. I avoided confronting others with corrections and convictions because I had fears that if I do, I might lose them.
But the truth is: The fear and discomfort isn’t from what I will say but from the thought of how the other person will negatively perceive me afterwards. The root of this non-confrontational attitude of mine is self-preservation/self-centeredness.
When I came to know Christ, I understood how important it is to wait on God and to pray that He will be the One to compel and convict my stubborn friends of their wrongdoings. There is nothing inherently wrong in praying for other people and depending on God to speak to them through His power and word, and circumstances. After all, it is only God who can transform a heart of a person. However, as I was depending on God, I was also preserving myself.
I deliberately used “depending on God” as an excuse for me to tolerate my friends’ compromises and complacencies. So if Paul were to write to me his letter to Titus, I’d probably just write a letter back saying, “Oh, don’t worry Paul. I have already prayed for them. I am not going to obey your instructions because that’s hard. So I will just wait on God to do it for us”.
But as I grew in the knowledge of Christ, I realized that such self-preservation must be abandoned because it is a hindrance to what God has called me to do. I cannot do ministry trying to preserve myself in order to “save” relationships and mentorships; that’s dead-end. I should do ministry with the focus of leading them to true and proper repentance through God’s truth — no matter how uncomfortable it may seem to be — not taking in regard what they will think of me when I share it.
Jesus was never afraid of confrontations. However, His confrontations were strategic and direct rather than generalised or vague. He did this not to save “loyalties” but to save souls for eternity. His corrections and rebuke were eternal in perspective. For example:
- He directly confronted hypocrisy amongst the Pharisees (religious leaders teaching righteousness by morals/religion/works). Jesus said repeatedly, “You Pharisees and teachers of the Law of Moses are in for trouble! You’re nothing but show-offs.” (Matthew 23).
- In Matthew 19, there was a young man, who was very rich. He came to Jesus and asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus shared with him some of the ten commandments. The young man replied that all of those things he has kept. He then asked Jesus what he was still lacking. Jesus then directly told him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But the young man went away grieved or sad because he had many possessions.
- In Matthew 16:23, Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
By God’s grace, I am in the process of learning/applying how to confront sin and rebellion with God’s word and timing, with the motive of restoration and not condemnation. I am also continuously learning how to be bolder in sharing God’s vision and mission to young believers. I also recently experienced confronting a professing believer who is teaching a different ministry pattern apart from Jesus’ ministry pattern. The process can be really uncomfortable but God must be bigger and I must become less (John 3:30).
Most will respond in wisdom, love and righteousness, resulting to revival and restoration between them and God. But some would respond in foolishness — rejecting God and His truth just to satisfy the desires of flesh, the lust of eyes and the pride/idols of life. The first surely brings encouragement and the latter brings sadness but more than anything, all the glory goes to the Lord!
Ezekiel 33:8-9 tells believers: “When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.”
Proverbs 27:5 says, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”
I am no longer afraid of losing people. I am more afraid of tolerating sin, rebellion, stagnation, unwillingness to repent, and complacencies in the camp — the very things that nailed Jesus at the cross. Confronting people may lead to uneasiness and even frustrations and sadness, but I am more afraid of the consequences that will surely arise if I do not stand firm in God’s truth just because I am afraid of what they might say about me.
I still fail at times. It is tempting to sugarcoat what I truly mean, but I am learning. Feeling “safe” is always the easiest route to take since it is fleshly and worldly, but the Holy Spirit reminds me so often, “You’re wearing the armor of God — belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with readiness from the gospel, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and sword of God’s word (Ephesians 6) — what should you be afraid of? You can be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.”