Seven Questions Before Addressing an Offense
2. If it was sin against me, have I privately forgiven the offender in my heart before God?
3. Am I humbly aware of my own sin, and am I dealing with my own “logs”?
4. What’s my motive?
- Matt 18:15 – Am I a brother seeking to regain a relationship or just release my anger?
- Luke 17:3 – Am I hoping to be able to publicly forgive, remove guilt, and regain unhindered fellowship with the offender, or am I just going to him out of my own sense of justice and peace of mind?
- Matt 12:34 – Am I ready to go? If my motive is not right, it is wrong to confront. Can I share my “heart” of love and concern for them before confronting them, and it be good?
- Prov 27:6 – Am I going as a friend or an offended enemy?
- Php 2:3-5 – Am I going for their good or for my own self-interests? Do I see what they could lose if they do not change, or am I focused primarily on what I have or might lose?
- 1Cor 10:31 - Do I really want God to glorify Himself by granting power to repent and then grace to change, even for us both?
5. Am I prepared to use loving words?
- 1Cor 13:4-7 – Do my word choices, tone, and body language reflect these qualities?
- Eph 4:29 – Am I viewing the person as the problem or their sin as the problem? As I speak, am I prepared to not digress into personal attacks, but instead focus only on the specific sin? Can I look for ways to edify the person while attacking only the sin?
- Prov 10:19 – Do I recognize the tendency to say too much, especially if they become defensive? I must not let a debate become heated, for then I would be involved in sin. I must put a stop at the door of my mouth, recognizing that begins in my heart (Ps 19:14).
- Prov 15:1 – If the offender becomes defensive, I must speak gently, hoping they listen, but still prepared to stop if it turns into a heated debate rather than a healthy discussion. Gentle words of love and affirmation do greater good than winning an argument.
- Prov 9:7-9 – If the offender does attack me, I must not continue to argue, but rather confess my sin if what they say is true, or just let them have the last word if it is not true.
- Prov 16:21 – Do I know how to speak in a way that encourages them to open up to me and listen, or am I going with a sledgehammer – get in, get out, and be done with it?
- 2 Tim 2:24-26; Prov 15:28 – What scripture passages in appropriate context help me gently make clear both what is wrong with what they are doing and why this is wrong?
- Gal 6:1 - Can I admit some of my own struggles as I try to help them work on theirs?
6. Is my timing right?
- Prov 25:11 – Is the circumstance right? Are they tired or hungry? Try to approach it when they are at their best. Late night is rarely good timing!
- Prov 15:23 – Are they in a stressful time? Have they just experienced a big circumstance? Don’t confront in the middle of a bad situation where emotions are already on the edge.
7. Am I prayerful?
- Jas 5:16 – Am I praying for the person regularly?
- Eph 1:16-19, 3:14-19 – Am I praying the kind of prayers that if answered would solve everything? Prayers should ask God to let them understand and experience the hope, power and love of their calling in Christ, that the sin you need to address with them would be gladly confessed and forsaken by them for God’s glory and their good (not for your convenience!).
- Col 3:12 – Could your praying for them be described as fervent “wrestling” (i.e. “laboring earnestly in prayer for you”)?
- Rom 9:1-2 - Have your prayers for them exercised and strengthened an earnest desire in you to suffer for their sake, if need be, to help them change? In reality, you may have to suffer for their gain; they may attack you and say evil of you for trying to admonish them.