It’s never pleasant to confront a brother or sister in Christ. Anyone who thinks it is should probably be the last person to do so. Still, there are times when it is necessary.
And here Paul gives us some insight on how it should be done. As we saw yesterday, there were some in the church who were idlers and refused to work even though they were healthy enough to do so. When Paul was there, he had warned them, and in his first letter to the Thessalonians, he had again admonished them to work. But still they continued in their laziness. So now Paul says,
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. (6)
Pretty strong words. I think one thing Paul meant by this was that the Thessalonians were not to give these idlers any “help” whenever they asked for food or money. But more, Paul later tells the Thessalonians to put these people out of the church entirely that they may feel the shame of their sin (14).
Still, there are two other things to note. One was that the Thessalonians were to watch themselves, that they would not be influenced by the laziness of these brothers and sisters. And it was probably for that reason that Paul told them,
And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right. (13)
But the other thing to note is the manner in which we are to warn the straying brother or sister. Paul said,
Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. (15)
It should not be with hatred that we deal with such people, but with the love of God. Our goal should not be to destroy them, but to restore them.
Are there brothers or sisters you know that are straying from God and his ways? What are you doing about it?