Don’t Rock the Boat
If your brother sins, rebuke him . . . Luke 17:3
Upon moving to Minnesota several years ago, I learned about Minnesota Nice, an apparent regional tendency of being kind, respectful, and courteous. I hadn’t moved far to get to Minnesota, so I was probably already Minnesota Nice without really knowing it. For me though, this mild-mannered personality probably has more to do with conflict avoidance than actually being a good person. If I’m honest, the niceness I display is, at least in part, a learned behavior to avoid rocking the boat.
This is true for many of us. There are those who don’t mind wading right into a fight, but most of us find confrontation uncomfortable, and so, we choose behavior that steers us clear of it. This often leads us to ignoring things that perhaps shouldn’t be ignored.
In recovery meetings for example, it’s necessary for the function of the meeting for those in it to be able call out the destructive behavior of each other. I need my brothers to be able to tell me when I’m justifying sin in my own life. Sometimes, avoidance of confrontation is evil in itself and sometimes, the boat needs to be rocked.
In today’s passage, Jesus said we must keep an eye on each other. He taught that if someone close to us sins, we bear some responsibility to do something about it. We can’t recover or have faith for anyone else. Our loved one’s sins are not our fault. If we just sit back and say nothing though, we engage in disobedience. In doing nothing, just to maintain the peace, we are in the wrong ourselves.
This is hard for us to do well. We usually err in one direction or the other. We either embrace a false niceness that avoids all confrontation, or we become prideful, condescending, and judgmental. Some of us feel it’s our mission to point out the shortcomings of everyone around us. You’re a mess and God sent me to expose all your flaws.
If we truly love those around us, we won’t avoid conflict at all cost. It is because of love that we must be willing to do as Christ commanded, addressing sin when appropriate. We must speak the truth in love, and we must remain humble enough that we allow others to confront us when needed. Sometimes the boat needs to be rocked a little.