And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
2 Thessalonians 3:14-15
History and Context:
Thessalonica was the Roman capital of the province of Macedonia, which is now northern Greece. It was a prosperous city which was both a port on the Aegean sea and also a major city on the land trade route from the city Dyrrachium on the Adriatic sea to what is now Istanbul. The church was founded around 50 AD on Paul's second missionary journey (Acts 17:1-9). Paul didn't stay long in Thessalonica due to the persecution from the Jews. The Jews were upset because Paul was converting those who were interested in Judaism. Paul spent a little over three weeks there before the newly-formed church sent Paul and his companions (Silas and Timothy) away for safety's sake. Due to the state of unrest that he left the church of Thessalonica in, Paul didn't wait long before he sent Timothy back to get news of what happened. When Paul was in Corinth Timothy returned with good news and Paul wrote the first letter filled with relief and joy. A few months later Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians in order to help strengthen the church in some areas in which it was weak, specifically in the area of Christ's return.
This passage comes after Paul gives a strong admonition regarding the connection of working and eating. He describes the importance of everyone working and contributing and even goes to say that "If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat." (2 Thessalonians 3:10) Apparently there were people in the church who were going around and basically mooching off of others in the congregation. Verses 14-15 share with us Paul's command of how to respond to those kinds of people, but I think it can be applied to most anyone who continually does not follow what God has shown us to do. Paul says "do not keep company with him". In other words he is saying to not build a close relationship with him or 'mix together' with him. But, Paul says, don't completely reject him, simply 'admonish' him or correct him, as a brother in Christ.
Paul is speaking against two extremes in regards to people's response to someone who is continually sinning. First he is speaking against those who ignore the sin and act as if nothing is wrong. Secondly heis speaking against those who completely reject and turn away the person because of the sin. What is your tendency? Is there someone who you've completely turned away and regarded as an enemy, then find that person and apologize and simply share with them what it was that they were doing wrong. On the other hand, if you are the person who ignores the sin, your challenge is to confront that person with their sin. Tell them that what they are doing is not right, but continue to love them as a brother.
Lord, help me to find this balance. Help me to be a vessel for your use, specifically when it comes to correcting people around me. Help me to do it in humility and love at all times. Give me wisdom of when to say something and how to say it. In Jesus' name, Amen.