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Warning a Brother

Warning a Brother

Words of Faith 4-30-19

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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2 Thessalonians 3

    [14] If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. [15] Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

 

        Paul had given a variety of instructions in this letter.  His strongest and most direct exhortation had concerned both the responsibility of believers who were idle and the fellowship that surrounded such people.  This probably is the primary concern about which Paul now gave guidance but Paul's direction applies to a variety of situations.  Just how do we respond when believers do not repent?

        There is a point at which individuals and the church must respond to those who refuse the counsel of the Lord and choose to live in disobedience.  These people are to be treated in a specific and way with the hope that they may come to repentance.  The believers are to disassociate from those who are actively rebellious and disobedient.  The purpose of this is that they may feel ashamed. Yes, you read that correctly.

        This sounds very strange to us today.  We live in a culture that has been heavily influenced by the "cult of self-esteem."  Our culture values self-esteem above just about everything.  We have come to think of shame as a terrible thing and that no one should ever experience shame. But Paul suggests that feeling shame can be a good thing.

        It is important to point out that God is not one who ever inflicts shame. Shame is something that we bring upon ourselves through our choices.  The Enemy, our Accuser, cooperated with us by inflicting or magnifying shame. God is not the author of shame.

        Paul’s advice regarding unrepentant believers not to inflict shame, but rather to get out of the way so that such a person may feel their shame. The call is not to treat such a person as an enemy, but to warn them as part of the family. 

          Shame is defined as a painful feeling arising from the consciousness or exposure of something dishonorable or improper.  Shame is related to how we believe others perceive us.  Feeling shame is not the same as repentance. 

         The Greek word used here for 'shame' means, literally, an inversion of respect, a disrespect or irreverence.  Paul was saying that we are not to cover over or assuage the feeling of shame and in so doing to interfere with a consequence that will lead to repentance.  It makes no sense to pay respect, reverence or honor toward a person who is rebelling in disobedience. This is not helpful.  Paul knew that the experience of shame can actually be used by the Lord to bring a person to true repentance.

        Paul was not trying to be cruel to people who had fallen into disobedience.  Just the opposite, in fact.  He directed that such a person should not be regarded as an enemy but as a brother.  They should be warned as a brother.  There is no cruelty here, but there is a separation in which an unrepentant person forgoes the privileges of fellowship.

        Paul called the church not to think of the offender as personally antagonistic toward them, nor were they to feel hostile toward him. His objective relationship to them as a brother in Christ should govern their feelings and actions, rather than subjective feelings that might be aroused by his disobedience.

         But the believers were asked to warn the unrepentant brother or sister. This is where we often fall short in our modern church.

        The type of warning that Paul directed comes from a wonderful Greek word-- noutheteo.  The word means literally "to put in mind."  The word means to admonish, warn, caution or reprove gently.  There is actually a form of Christian counseling called Nouthetic Counseling which uses Scripture as a sole source in guiding those who are troubled or hurting. 

        Paul directed this sort of approach when dealing with those we love who have fallen into the sin and defiant disobedience.  All contact is not broken off.  The person is not “disowned.”  There is contact for the purpose of warning and admonishing, gently reproving with Scripture as the guide.

       These are probably some of the most challenging issues that we will ever deal with.  It is popular today to just overlook all sorts of disobedience to scripture within the Body of Christ in the name of not wanting to be "judgmental."  Paul is by no means calling for believers to be judgmental of one another.  He is calling us to love one another enough to warn each other when we are off track and in danger. 

 

          Father God, give me the wisdom to know how to handle relationships with believers who are in rebellion.  Help me to remove the log first from my own eye.  Keep me from being petty or judgmental.  But give me love and courage enough to help others to be restored to a right relationship with You.  In Jesus' name.