2 Thessalonians 3:6 Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us…11 For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. 12 Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living… 14 Take note of those who do not obey what we say in this letter; have nothing to do with them, so that they may be ashamed. 15 Do not regard them as enemies, but warn them as believers.
Tradition tells us that many early Christians lived in something of a communal arrangement. In other words, they shared many things in common – like food. Everyone was expected to pitch in so that everyone could enjoy God’s provision.
Well, apparently some people didn’t get the memo (v.11).
Rather than just let this go, Paul commends the people to confront those not living up to expectations. “Do not regard them as enemies, but warn them as believers” (v.15). The point was not to kick offenders out of community, but to help them come into alignment with the rest of the church, so they might all live in peace.
In my experience, we Christians are often slow to confront those not living according to community expectations. I get that most people are uncomfortable with confrontation and avoid it whenever possible, but avoidance just creates bigger problems – and greater fallout – in the long run. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve made this mistake and lived to regret it. Reminds me of the old Andy Griffith Show character Barney Fife “Nip it in the bud!”. Yes, I’m old…
Question I’m pondering this morning, “Where am I avoiding a needed confrontation?”
Lord Jesus, we Christians often avoid difficult conversations because we’ve been taught that calling people out for bad behavior is akin to being “mean”. In our passage for today the apostle Paul begs to differ. Give us grace to embrace short-term confrontation so that we might enjoy long-term peace. We pray this in your holy name. Amen.