Friday, September 19, 2014

Shaming - 2nd Thessalonians 3:14-18

"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. Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all! I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all." (2nd Thessalonians 3:14-18)
Paul is closing his letter, but first he addresses those who refuse to discipline their lives and to live according to the instruction and example Paul left for them. Paul understood that in any large house, even in the church, there are many different types of vessels. "Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work." (2 Timothy 2:20-21) While many are called, not all embrace the process of sanctification with the same sense of duty and industry as others do. It is this sanctification that cleanses us and makes us fit for the Master's use. They delight in being saved, but bristle at the thought of being changed. They are vessels in the house, but as yet fit only for ignoble use.

Paul's prescription for such people was to "not associate" with them that they may be ashamed of where they are in their walk with the Lord. The Greek word used here for "shame" means to "turn around" or "turn over". The goal of shaming is to turn the person upon themselves that they may see the contrast between their lives and the upward calling of Christ and that they may appreciate their need for sanctification that they too may be a vessel fir for honorable use. Shaming is not condemnation nor is it judgment, but rather is is designed to remove all false sense of security that one may have when joined with others in Christian union. If one lives an unruly life yet is fully accepted and embraced by all, then they may be deceived of their true condition in Christ. However, if they are removed from association and are allowed to see the contrast of their life when compared to others, then maybe they will make the qualitative decision to change and to embrace "the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14)

This is why Paul says to not treat them as an enemy but as a brother; as an unruly brother who needs "tough love." We love our families even when they don't behave as they should, but we also don't enable them in their misbehavior. We show them the contrast and let the Holy Spirit work in their heart that they may embrace the process of change; that by the grace of God they might be changed. Shaming does not mean we have to make people feel bad, but it does mean that we have to give them space to let God have His way in their life and to work in their life; that one day they may return in the true life God has for them and for all of us.

David Robison

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