Do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
2 Thessalonians 3 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; 2 and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.
6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; 9 not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. 10 For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. 11 For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. 13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.
14 If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
16 Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!
17 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
In today’s text Paul writes instructions and exhortations to the church: May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ. Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life. To many it would seem that having hearts of love and being steadfast in Christ would mean the opposite of keeping away from those who lead unruly lives. They would say that in love and in being like Christ we should love, accept and include everyone regardless of their lifestyle. First we need to acknowledge that the instruction and exhortation is for the church and is regarding how they are to interact with other believers, not with the world. In 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 Paul gave a similar instruction, saying: I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Even in the world, many organizations have a code of conduct that their members or employees are expected to adhere to. The church should be no different. Those who believe should expect other believers to adhere to conduct that is becoming of believers. Some would say that this is contrary to what Jesus says in Matthew 7. In verses 1-4, He says: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?” Many people stop there saying and believing that Jesus simply says we should not judge. But, look at all of what Jesus actually says, including verse 5. “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. ” So it is not that we are not to judge the sin of others, but rather that we be certain to judge ourselves first, making sure that we are adhering to the code of conduct of those who are believers in Christ.. This is so that we are not judging, but rather that we are trying to help and restore them. In today’s text it says: If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. Galatians 6:1 says: Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 says: If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. As believers we cannot expect that the world will adhere to the code of conduct that believers, who have been recreated in Christ, would and should adhere to. We though, are to be ambassadors for Christ. We are to represent the kingdom of God and its code of conduct in and to the world, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus says it this way: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” It is the code of conduct that we adhere to as believers, shining the light of Christ in and to the world, that should cause the world to see, to know, to glorify and become reconciled to God through Christ.
Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.