Matthew 18:15-20

“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. 16 But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. 17 If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector. 18 “I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid[ on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven. 19 “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. 20 For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”


When we think of confrontation, we generally think of a clash between opposing ideas or forces. The word has a negative connotation I suppose but there is another definition of confrontation and it is simply a face to face meeting. It takes courage to confront and there in lies the major problem but in any relationship, if it is to be healthy and enduring, there has to be some confrontation. Our text tonight deals with confrontation within the body of Christ.

I’ll be the first to say, it is not pleasant and not something that we should enjoy. Unfortunately in the life, we must deal with the unpleasant and the pleasant. In this world there are swimming pools in one part of the yard and septic tanks in another but both in the same yard. 

Jesus said, “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense.Most of us are very reluctant at this point because we are self-conscious about our own sins and in this instance, the offense is against you personally which brings up the issue of pride. In the text tonight we see some guidelines for confronting.


Even when we confront in humility, we have no guarantee of success but without humility, failure is a certainty. Pride will make the problem worse, much worse. I would never be quick to confront someone about their sin. There needs to be a contrition and brokenness in the life of the confronter concerning the sin in question. Warren Wiersbe sees the “Hidden faults” that David alludes to  in Psalm 19 as [1] Faults that you are hiding from the public [2] Faults that are actually hidden from you. Other see them but you don’t. Sometimes humble confrontation will help a person see a sin that they have not been seeing.


The best form, only acceptable form of confrontation is a face to face private meeting. William Barclay said, “More trouble has been caused by the writing of letters than by almost anything else.” If he were living today, he would say, “More trouble has been caused by texting than anything else.” I am having a difficult time getting this across to folks in my own family, you do not confront on the phone and especially, not with a text. This is a cowardly way to confront.


If you confront to hurt, insult or get even: you are in error. Generally speaking, I hate confrontation. It is the most unpleasant part of being a pastor. You can rest assured that I have given it a lot of thought and prayer before I confront. Confrontation is not my first choice, it is my last resort. Secondly, if I confront you, it is because I love you. Right or wrong and I’m probably wrong, I do not confront people whom I do not have deep affection for. Now I am talking about confronting a person for some sin or destructive habit. I have confronted people for injustice, gossip, slander and in defense of others and some of these people I was not crazy about so let me be honest: all my confrontations have not been loving. If I come to you and talk to you about a destructive habit, you can rest assured, I am doing it out of love. I confront very few church members over anything. I try desperately to mind my own business and we Bailey’s have our own problems. In the few cases that I have confronted, it was because I felt confident that the person I was confronting knew that I loved them.

When my son played basketball, the coach would hollow at him and more than he did with the others. I kind of felt like he was being unfair to my son until one of my very wise friends came up to me and said, “Bro. Jack, he doesn’t hollow at those who have no potential. He hollows at your son because he knows he can do better.” Wow! What wisdom. I did pay attention from that point on and my friend was right. If I confront you, it is because I think you have potential and I am trying in my weak way to make you better; the last thing I want to do is make you bitter. Everyone has an Achilles heel, a weakness, a thorn in the flesh: I have more than one. My mother was one of my mentors and she had no reservations about pointing out my faults. Most people don’t have one friend that will be honest with them. Several years ago at Baccalaureate, one of the Seniors ask to sing and of course she was not denied but she couldn’t sing. As she struggled through her solo, I over heard one lady say to another, “That girl has no friends.” A good friend would not want to see another made fun of and mocked and so they would tell the truth in love. I kid folks by saying, “My mother loved me unconditionally but she never told me I could sing.” Good friends don’t lie, they tell us the truth, even when it hurts.” I am blessed to have several good friends.


There are several things that need to be in harmony before we confront: [1] What does the word of God say about this particular situation or sin. [2] How much have we prayed about it and is our spirit bearing witness with the word of God. [3] If possible, talk to other concerned people and get their advice: wise people seek good counsel. [4] Go only when you do not have peace about not going. Let the Spirit compel you. Remember you success may not be imminent. You may never see any results but it is a risk you have to take to be obedient.

I would love to say that I have had marvelous results in confronting but that would not be true. From my human point of view, my success seems to be minimal at best. I think some of the folks I have confronted respect me and some perhaps have great affection for me but I have not seen many changes due to my confrontation. I confronted a woman several years ago who was about to leave her husband. She listened to a point, out of respect I suppose but she told me before I left that her mind was made up and nothing I said made any difference. I confronted a young man once about his giving habits: he changed momentarily but went right back to his old ways. I would not confront anyone about giving unless they were leaders. If you are an up front visible leader, you need to at least tithe. I have to agree with my son at this point: “Giving [money] is the easiest part of being a Christian, so why do people struggle with giving?” It is an enigma, I don’t get it but it is a real problem especially in the area of music.

One thing about it: if we confront, we need to do it humbly, privately, with restoration in mind and as an act of obedience to Christ. I will not tell you that the results are always good but you will get a peace from being obedient. We me personally, I have had more failures than successes but we don’t go to be successful, we go in obedience to Christ.




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