“But if anyone does not obey our message through this letter, take note of him and do not associate closely with him, so that he may be ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 NET).
This passage offers a brief opportunity to consider the proper approach to managing conflict between God’s people as well as the larger subject of church discipline.
We can begin with the following counsel from the New Testament book of Romans: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18 NIV). Even though this verse implies that it may not be possible to consistently live in peace with everyone, this should not prevent us from attempting to do so. As Jesus encouraged us in the Gospel of Matthew, “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).
Another portion of Jesus’ teaching from Matthew’s Gospel establishes the proper way to interact with those who have sinned against us…
“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.
If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17 NLT).
The Scriptures also tell us that there are some instances where it may be appropriate to end relationships with those who are responsible for generating division, conflict, and disagreement…
“I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them” (Romans 16:17 NIV).
“If anyone is causing divisions among you, he should be given a first and second warning. After that have nothing more to do with him, for such a person has a wrong sense of values. He is sinning, and he knows it” (Titus 3:10-11 TLB).
Nevertheless, we should seek to maintain humility, respect, and an opportunity for restoration in such instances…
“…if a Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help him back onto the right path, remembering that next time it might be one of you who is in the wrong” (Galatians 6:1 TLB).