“Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.  Remember what it says:“Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.” – Hebrews 3: 12-15.  

Cain is not the most inspiring person in the Bible. His name lives on today for the wrong reasons. You know the story: Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. They both brought offerings to God. God looked with favor on Abel and his offering, which made Cain angry. So Cain lured his brother out into the field and killed him. But what makes this story so interesting is not the jealously and murder, it’s Cain’s self-justifying answer when God asks “Where is your brother Abel?” The answer is “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:1-9)

I don’t know what he was thinking when he decided to be snippy with God. My guess, and it is only as guess, is that he wasn’t thinking and that his motivation was to justify a self-focused life. Fast forward to 2016: There are plenty of days when just “keeping” my own life running is about all I feel I can handle. But even so, God has called us to be our brother’s, our neighbor’s, and even our enemy’s keeper. God invites us to love, stand up for, and kneel down in humility to serve others in our lives. And that call occasionally challenges us to step out of our comfort zones and confront a brother who is sinning and lost their way. 

We are commanded to hold each other accountable and make each other stronger. God has given us a brilliant plan for this that keeps all close by his side. Because we are fallen and sinful, we will have conflicts. God has given us a model for working out those conflicts, whether they are big or small. The Bible talks about confronting another believer in Matthew  18:15-20. 

Matthew 7 is where we find Jesus talking about removing the log from your eye before you point out the speck in someone else’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)  Note that the passage does not tell us not to take the log out of our brother’s eye, but to first deal with our own sin. This process restores both the confronter and the confronted to Christ. After reading and understanding those verses, one begins to realize that before we confront a bother or sister on their sin, we have a lot of work to do on ourselves.

Confrontation is not to be done as a reaction to being injured out of selfish anger, but as a proactive act of service to the one being confronted. We are not to elevate ourselves above others, but follow Christ’s example and consider one another more important than ourselves.

Remember, you are just one beggar telling another beggar where to find food for the week.

Discussion Questions

  1. Which hindrance to correcting a brother or sister is the most common excuse for not doing it? Can you think of others?
  2. Many think of “confronting” as being abrasive. Others think “gentleness” means not being strong. Where’s the biblical balance? 
  3. What are some biblical guidelines for knowing when to let something go and when to confront?
  4. If the sin of others doesn’t break your heart, it’s probably because your heart has never been broken over your own sin. Agree or disagree and why?