8 Minute Read + Scripture readings

TODAY’S BIBLE READING:

Jeremiah 51:54–52:34
Titus 3:1-15
Psalm 100:1-5
Proverbs 26:18-19

TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

Titus 3:10-11 (CSB): “Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning. For you know that such a person has gone astray and is sinning; he is self-condemned.”

REFLECTIONS ON TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

I think that virtually every pastor (and his wife) is wounded. He is carrying around scars that he isn’t free to talk about to others. In fact, while those scars don’t go as deep as his Savior’s, they enable him to bear a striking resemblance to his Master.

One thing that hurts a pastor about as badly as anything else is when he is stabbed by one of his own soldiers. When someone in the ministry is attacked by someone on the outside of the church, and his congregation rallies around him, he wears that like a badge of honor. But, when he is attacked by his own troops, he questions himself. He feels betrayed. He wants to run off to heal and process what happened. If the attack was big enough, he may even entertain thoughts of leaving the church … or the ministry.

That’s where our Verses for Today speak into this problem. The Apostle Paul spoke those words to a pastor. Titus needed some instruction so, in a reasonably short letter, Paul included counsel on how to handle those who use their words to attack and divide within the church.

Titus 3:10-11 (CSB): “Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning. For you know that such a person has gone astray and is sinning; he is self-condemned.”

I know a pastor who had to leave a church because of the effects caused by “a divisive person.” Every Sunday night, a person in a church leadership position would go out to eat and spend the evening slandering the pastor. It was eventually discovered that she didn’t limit her divisive talk to Sunday evenings. When she was confronted by her pastor and others who knew that what she was doing was wrong, she buckled down … and never repented. She was competent enough in her area of ministry that she was essentially untouchable. (In other words, people overlooked her flawed character because they liked her competence.) While the pastor and many church leaders knew what was going on, an unrepentant heart caused the pastor to eventually leave the church rather than risk a massive church fight.

Every pastor has at least one story (and probably multiple stories) similar to this one. That’s why the Apostle Paul gave Titus specific instructions on how to deal with divisive people.

Titus 3:10-11 (CSB): “Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning. For you know that such a person has gone astray and is sinning; he is self-condemned.”

When we look at our Verses for Today, we hear God telling us that we are to take divisiveness within the church seriously. Titus was a preacher and this instruction was given to him to implement within the congregation he shepherded.

If someone is stirring up division in your congregation, warn him a couple of times. If he or she continues, then “reject” them. Or, as the ESV translates it: “have nothing more to do with (them).”

Do not go out to eat with them.

Do not invite them into your home.

Do not sit with them in church.

Titus 3:10 (CSB): “Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning.”

Why should we respond this way? Because divisiveness isn’t a small, benign sin. In fact, the divisive person’s actions are really pointing out who they are (“self-condemned”). Not mentioned in these verses is the incredible harm it brings to the church.

Titus 3:10-11 (CSB): “Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning. For you know that such a person has gone astray and is sinning; he is self-condemned.”

Titus 3:10-11 (ESV): “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.”

Titus 3:10-11 (NLT): “If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them. For people like that have turned away from the truth, and their own sins condemn them.”

Friend, it is no small thing when someone causes division within a church.

Jesus prays for and is the author of unity (John 17:21-23). Disunity is of Satan.

If someone is perpetually causing trouble and stirring up problems and refuses to repent, then it may say a whole lot about where they are headed when they breathe their last breath.

If truth is on the line, then we need to stand up for truth even if lines are drawn. And if sinful behavior is being tolerated in the church body, then we stand up, humbly but resolutely, against that, too. All we need to do is look at the New Testament epistles to realize that Paul was not silent when it came to pointing out doctrinal error and sinful behavior.

If we have been guilty of words that cause division in the church over matters that have nothing to do with doctrinal error or sinful behavior, then we need to confess it and repent. I have certainly had reason to do that before. I’m certain that you have, too.

But, if someone insists on divisive words and behaviors and insists on continuing in it …

Titus 3:10-11 (CSB): “Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning. For you know that such a person has gone astray and is sinning; he is self-condemned.”

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