Let’s admit it. It stings when someone points out our faults or corrects us on an action. We immediately want to defend ourselves, even if we were in the wrong. We’re not that bad, we reason. Our intentions were good. And what gives them the right to point out our flaws anyway, when they have their own? But God’s plan for our growth involves a consistent practice of confession of our sins to each other. This may seem counterintuitive, especially in our society. We’re taught to present our best selves and work to improve our own flaws. But God’s model of community involves correction that will lead to growth.
In Galatians 2:11, Paul recounts a strong rebuke that issued to Peter during the early days of the church. “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.” Peter (Cephas in Aramaic) would eat with the Gentiles in the absence of other Jews. However, when around other Jews, the apostle distanced himself from the Gentiles. Because these actions contradicted the gospel and the unity of the church, Paul confronted Peter.
Paul doesn’t give us Peter’s response to his rebuke. We could expect such a sharp rebuke to cause a rift between the men. But Peter implies otherwise in a letter he wrote after the incident. He speaks highly of Paul, calling him a beloved brother (2 Peter 3:15).