At our recent Equip Night "Paralyzed" we polled the audience and learned that one of the most debilitating fears that is common to all of us is the fear of "Confrontation".
Let’s be honest, we do not truly fear the act of confrontation as much as we fear the way confrontation makes us feel … afraid, worried, anxious, inferior, incompetent, angry, ashamed … there are a host of negative emotions associated with confrontation.
Jon Bloom, a staff writer for Desiring God, reminds us that during conflict we feel negative emotions that tend to, “stir up emotional fog and psychological complexity", but when we “cut through to the heart of things” we remember a “simple biblical truth: we obey the one we fear.” Whether we avoid confrontation because we want to feel comfortable, or because we desire approval, we must realize that either our own comfort, or the other person, in that moment, serves as a “functional” god in our lives. Our tendency to avoid confrontation reveals our idolatry. We love our own comfort more than we love God, or we love other people more than we love God.
Consider how confrontation is handled in these three verses:
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”
–– Matthew 18:15
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.”
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
According to these passages, God expects two things. First, that we maintain a willingness to confront others. Second, that we confront others in humility and gentleness. These are clear scriptural expectations on how to handle confrontation. When we fail to confront, and when we fail to confront in love, we are walking in disobedience to the Word of God. When we choose to handle confrontation any other way, we in essence are saying we know better than God how to handle the situation. And when we choose our way because of our own comfort, or fear, we are practicing idolatry of the heart.
What is Idolatry of the Heart?
Idolatry of the heart occurs when anything holds more value for us than God (including our own comfort). A good definition of idolatry is when we are willing to sin to get what we want. If I am willing, for example, to disobey the Word of God to find relief in a situation, or to feel happy, or to have any of my felt needs met, then I am no longer worshiping and obeying God, I am now worshipping and obeying myself, and my desire.
Tearing Down Heart Idols
There are three steps to tearing down the idols in your heart: Recognize, Repent, and Refocus.
1 John 5:21 reads, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” Just as the Apostle John recognized the struggle in others, so we must honestly recognize the struggle in ourselves. If you are uncertain that you struggle with this sin, I urgently ask you to take a moment before the Lord right now to ask Him earnestly to reveal to you heart idols.
1 Corinthians 10:14 reads, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”
Once you recognize your idolatry, flee! Confess to God your sin and begin acting in a manner pleasing to the Lord by demonstrating the sincerity of your repentance. Try these suggestions:
-Make a list of your ungodly habits and contrast them with biblical examples of how God would desire you to act.
-Identify exactly what desire you want more than God, and begin asking God to help you love Him more than your desire.
-Confess to a trusted friend your struggle and ask for accountability and prayer.
Romans 12:1 reads, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
Begin to refocus on your true identity as a child of God, and your true purpose, to glorify Him in word and deed. God desires true change, and He will continue to pursue that change in you. Don’t give up! Begin to obey God by choosing one command in scripture you can obey each day.
Perhaps that first step of obedience will be pushing past your hesitancy to confront that person in your life. Trust God, step past your fear, and worship your God in humble obedience and love for your neighbor. As you do, God will begin to take your fear of confrontation away and replace it with a heart of obedience to Him.
This is a follow-up post to our second Equip night on Stress, Fear, and Anxiety. Join us March 6th for our 3rd night: Epidemic. For more information and to register go to www.brookstonechurch.org/epidemic