One thing I must say that I appreciate about good, godly preaching/teaching (whether spoken or written) is that from time to time I feel convicted about improving myself in some area where I may have a fault. When someone is honest enough with me to be straightforward about something like that, it may not always initially be comfortable to hear it, but after awhile I appreciate the honesty. It helps me become a better partner in my relationship with God.
This is why I cringe when I think about how many of today’s churches are buying into the world’s mindset that it’s never good to criticize people or point out what they’re doing wrong even when such criticism is helpful and constructive. Churchgoers are being trained by people like Brian Houston, Andy Stanley, Rick Warren, and Joel Osteen to think that confronting sin is an unnecessary grief and is hateful. But if you oppose their false theology, it’s perfectly okay for them to criticize and judge you for it. God help us.
However, falsely accusing a genuine believer of causing you grief or being a hater is nothing new. Paul dealt with it when he wrote to the Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians, Paul confronted some serious sins going on in that congregation. One of the major ones was that a man was in a sexual relationship with his stepmom. So Paul got on the church’s case about letting that sin just slide by without doing anything.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul explained why he was seemingly so harsh to Corinth. In chapter 2, he speaks of how he wanted to get all unpleasantness out of the way before he arrived for a visit since it would have been a bit awkward if he had to confront them in person while visiting when he hoped his visit would be one of rejoicing. So in 2 Cor. 2:4, Paul states, “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.”
The apostle basically said he was trying to show them how much he loved them, not cause them grief when he confronted them in his letter. As an apostle and the one who helped start their congregation, he knew they could do better and be better, especially since the Holy Spirit had done many works in their midst. We find the same type of scenario today when some of us, with a genuine zeal for God and love for others, are moved to confront wrongdoing. Those of us who do it out of love may be falsely accused of trying to cause grief. But we need to make it clear from time to time like Paul did that our motivations for addressing evil is out of love, not hate.
Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities. Psalm 141:5