2Th 3:13-15 “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”
Living a virtuous life takes work. Well-doing, particularly in the realm of serving others, is not in our Adam nature. It is much easier for us to gauge an activity by an attitude of “What’s in it for me?” than to desire the benefit of others. Giving instruction according to the truth of God only to see it rejected over and over again can cause us to wonder why we even bother.
Only God can strengthen us to His work, and our trust and confidence should always be in Him. Because of His great love for us, we should never seem to fail in living a virtuous life. No matter how much we may love a brother or sister who is walking in error, we should never engage in the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mentality. Neither should we ever stop living a godly example before them or encouraging them to do the same.
According to Paul, we have a responsibility to mark those who are willfully disobedient to the word of God. Although Paul was speaking in this particular instance of those who were not working other than to be meddlers in the affairs of others, the lesson is not confined to this behavior only. Any willful contrariness to the teaching of God’s word should be marked or noted. The marking of this contrariness means that we take no part with that brother or sister in that activity.
The way we often think of the word today, to make someone ashamed means to publicly ridicule and degrade them. Most of us have some firsthand knowledge of what this type of shaming does; it fosters anger and rebellion. The Greek word entrepō, which is here translated as ashamed, means to invert, regard, or reverence (see Strong’s). Making one ashamed as Paul uses the word here hearkens to the admonition in 1Co 11:28 of self-examination.
How is it that we are to encourage self-examination? We begin by not deeming the one in error as our enemy. Nothing is to be gained from a combative spirit. Next we are to give admonishment, but to give admonishment we must understand what that is. Admonishment is not ridicule or belittlement.
The Greek word translated as admonish is noutheteō. According to Strong’s, this word means “to put in mind, that is, (by implication) to caution or reprove gently: admonish, warn.” Admonishment is a gentle reproof given out of love for our Lord Jesus Christ and His children. It is a warning for the good of the Lord’s people.
To warn one of God’s little ones is to express correction in such a way that the love of God is clearly seen rather than expressing it as a threat. We are to admonish the errant as speaking to our brother. It is to be a pure action of love, and we should not attempt it until we can do it out of love instead of anger or irritation.
May God bless us to never be weary in living the life He has laid before us and, even in correction, to honor Him!