When was the last time you were confronted about your sin? Did you interpret it as judgment? What was your response toward the person who was confronting or rebuking you? Were you angry, put out, outraged? Did you have a desire to justify yourself or make excuses to this person? Were you hurt? Did you begin to recite in your head a whole bunch of negative things about the person who had the courage to talk to you? Maybe it was not confined to your thoughts and you told them off!
Rather than focusing on the person who rebuked or confronted you, think for a moment about what your response revealed in you. What you did when you were confronted reveals a lot about your heart. Your heart is described in biblical terms as the immaterial part of you that is the place of thoughts, beliefs, and desires. It also is the place that your mind, will, and emotions reside. Your heart is where your soul resides. The Bible has more to say about the heart than I have space for here! A couple of very notable verses that make my point perfectly are found in Proverbs 27:19:
“As in water face reflects face, So the heart of man reflects man.”
and Jeremiah 17:9:
“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?”
In Matthew 15:18 Jesus tells us that what comes out of our mouths reveals the heart.
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders…”
When you were responding (even if it was only in your head) to criticism or rebuke, by thinking all those negative things about the one confronting you your heart was being revealed. The Bible refers to these things as evil thoughts and slanders.
Few people understand that these kinds of thoughts are part of them, or that they are serious. Many like to whisk them away to a far corner of their heart and pretend they don’t really exist or that they only exist on rare occasions. They like to think they are too good to have these thoughts on a continuum. They play games with themselves with nice sounding excuses about how they could never think such thoughts if it weren’t for this situation or that circumstance. Such heart revelations are chalked up to being tired or stressed. They are attributed to having a bad day, and excused by rationalizing that everyone does this sort of thing from time to time. When you lie to yourself by saying,”I am a good person even though I am having bad thoughts” you are passing up an opportunity for heart change.
Heart change is another aspect of progressive sanctification whereby you become more like Jesus Christ in your inner man. Without heart change, there is no lasting change, just temporary behavior modification. All meaningful change comes from within as the Holy Spirit illuminates the Word of God and it penetrates your thought processes and renews your mind (Romans 12:2) and your beliefs. Your actions are then affected by your new way of thinking. Your desires will also be affected because you will be thinking about would please and glorify God rather than yourself.
As your heart begins to be impacted and affected by the Word of God you will find that you respond differently to being rebuked or confronted about sin. Rather than rationalizing and justifying yourself, you will become willing to examine your heart and see through biblical lenses if what is being said to you is possible or true. When change is taking place, you will want to change and desire the elimination of such sin from your life. You will be thankful to the person who confronted you out of concern for your spiritual growth and change. You will see them as an instrument of God rather than an unwelcome intruder in your life.
This may be a new revelation to you, but this is how the body of Christ is supposed to operate. We are all called upon by God to mutually exhort, rebuke, and correct fellow believers. Sadly, too often we are waylaid by fear of what that person will think of us or how they will respond. These fear of man issues are what allow sin to fester unchallenged in the church. A loving, biblical confrontation is not easy, but it is needed when sin is apparent.