Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. Romans 16:17
Have you ever been around people who like to stir up trouble? Every time they come around they are always looking for an opportunity to cause an argument. They don’t really want to be involved, they just want to get it started and then step back and watch as relationships melt down. What about those who like to be offensive. It seems like some people’s entertainment revolves around who they can through an offense in front of and then watch them stumble over it. Now think about what that would look like if it happened in your church congregation. How would you handle it or how would you want to help the situation be better?
In today’s reading, Paul is talking to the people of the church in Rome about these kind of people and gives explicit direction on how to handle them. He plainly says: “Avoid them!” He doesn’t say “correct them” and he doesn’t say “help them to understand how to have good relationships”. He says “stay away from them.” This can be hard to do, especially if it is a friend or family member, but definitely do not get involved.
I have had some personal experiences with people like this and it is almost miraculous how God can work in the situation if you simple walk away and pray for that individual. The Lord showed me that I do not have to fix everyone, in fact, that is not my job at all. My job is to love and pray for them and that opens the way for the Holy Spirit to bring His peace into those situations and gives me peace as well.
So how do we avoid those who want to stir up strife and discord? Paul says the first thing to do is to recognize them. Identify people who are instigating arguments and disagreements. You can pinpoint them by the way they are serving/concerned with their own selfish needs and not the things of God. Another quality they will display is smooth words and flattering speech that deceive innocent/naïve people. The text says to be wise in what is good and simple concerning evil. In your obedience to turn away and not get involved in these conflicts, (avoiding them) you are opening the door to the God of peace to crush Satan under your feet soon after. Meaning, that kind of activity will not come around you anymore. When that person comes around, that spirit of discord will not show up, because you have released God’s peace that pushed it far away.
Today I want to encourage you to be aware of anyone that comes around you trying to cause some stress. Be alert and notice their selfish attitude and manipulating conversations to get their own way. Next, turn away from such activity and do not get involve. Ask you Heavenly Father, the God of peace to crush that enemy under your feet and the grace of your Lord Jesus will be with you as that evil is driven far away.
Today’s scripture reading: Romans 16:17-27