Watch out for “Dividers”

We have had our three Lakewood grand kids with us today. Grandma Debbie got up early and delayed her departure long enough to make waffles. Then I recruited the kids to help with some outside work. After lunch we had our recreation time with trips to parks and the swimming pool and a run to Sonic. I’m not sure how they did, but I was tired.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… “I ask you to look out for those who cause people to be against each other and who upset other people’s faith. They are against the true teaching you learned, so stay away from them.I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.  Romans 16:17,19 NCV

As Paul concludes his letter to Roman believers, he is sending his greetings to many who would be receiving the letter. In this midst of all the requests to “greet’ various individuals, he inserts one final warning. That warning is about those who bring division, disruption and trouble to the faith of others.

What is of interest is that this warning is not just for those “outside the faith” but for those who profess to know Christ but as Paul says, “…are not serving our Lord Christ but are only doing what pleases themselves.” (Rom. 16:18 NCV) What my experience tells me is those people do not believe or recognize that they are being self-centered bu would contend they are serving Christ. But the fruit of their activities and impact reveal the truth.

Paul says their activity “upsets other people’s faith” and causes discord among people. This is opposite of God’s desire for His people. Jesus prayed,  “…that they [those who believe in Christ] may be one as we are one.” (John 17:22) Paul declared, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace–as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.  (1 Cor. 14:33) James said, “For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.”  (James 3:16)

Paul is very direct in his advice when he says, “stay away from them.” He doesn’t say correct them, or try to argue with them, he simply says, their teaching is contrary to the truth, so just “stay away.” When someone and others keep repeating something that is not true, it doesn’t make it true, but it can bring confusion and result in strife and discord. The result is that time and energy is spent dealing more with fighting for the faith among those who are to be believers, opposed to sharing the faith with others who are not.

Paul’s concern for believers is for them to be “wise in what is good and innocent of evil.” That doesn’t mean a “Polly Anna” type of approach to life. It has more to do with where we place our focus and thoughts. I am reminded of it being said, that counterfeit investigators spend their time studying the “real” thing more than that which is the “fake.” If you know the real that well, that which is counterfeit will stand out. The same is true when it comes to the truth of God’s Word and our life of faith.

Paul ends with a positive affirmation for those who keep their focus and minds on Christ, Glory to God who can make you strong in faith by the Good News that I tell people and by the message about Jesus Christ.”  (Rom. 16:25) Strong in faith, united in purpose, that is God’s desire for His people. That should be our commitment and rally cry.