Confront an Offender, or Let Love Cover It?

Chris —  October 2, 2008

The Bible encourages those who have been offended:

  • There are times when we go to the offender and share that we’ve been hurt (Matthew 18:15-17).
  • There are times when let go of the matter (Proverbs 19:11).

So, how do we know when to confront and when to overlook?

Justin Taylor summarized a section of Unpacking Forgiveness that gives a list of questions to ask when considering whether or not to confront a matter.

I’m looking forward to reading Chris Brauns’s new book, Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds.

Here’s one little section that caught me eye: How do I know when to confront something and when to overlook it?

The short answer is that it is a matter of wisdom or discernment. Each time you are offended, you need to wisely decide whether or not you need to bring it up. Only you can make the decision, but several diagnostic questions can help you work through it.

You can read Justin’s entire post here.

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2 responses to Confront an Offender, or Let Love Cover It?

  1. A couple of questions, please: 1) Ken Sande in his book, Resolving Everyday Conflict says, on page 54,”Overlooking means you choose to fully forgive a person without any further discussion or action.” This would seem to be at odds with your view that forgiveness can only be “transacted” with the full knowledge of the offending person (with which I tend to agree). How would you respond to Sande’s point? 2) Both you and Sande advocate the view that you don’t always need to confront the offending party – one can either “overlook” as Sande puts it or “get over it” or “drop it” as you put it. My question is: isn’t what each of you are advocating what the Bible calls “forbearance”? If so, why don’t you use this biblical term and biblical references to it?

    Thanks for considering my questions.

  2. Pete,

    Thanks for the dialogue. I very much appreciate people engaging biblically.

    (1) I think Sande to mean from that point forward the matter is behind you. So we say, “This is over. We need not speak further of it.” I know Sande is very much in favor of resolving differences both from his book and other avenues.

    (2) Regarding “forbearance”, it’s a combination of two things I suppose. First, the passages that shape our opinion are translated as “overlook” (Prov 19:11) or “love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8. Historically, I used the NIV (1984) which only translates one word in the “forbearance” category. The ESV only translates 3 times using forbearance.

    The dominant biblical words for “forgiveness” are covered in this post ( Notice that some translations (KJB / NASB I suspect) translate some of the words “forbearance” – – though I have not taken the time to go through KJV and NASB to confirm.

    On for the King,