But They Are Not Listening

2 Thessalonians 3: 14 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. 15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. (NASB)

For many years every time I preached I felt that people needed to respond and if they didn’t, there was something wrong. Maybe something wrong with them, maybe something wrong with me or maybe I didn’t make the message clear. After preaching for a few years I thought that if people didn’t respond to the message they were callous and didn’t care about God. From that point on my interaction with them changed. I saw them in a different light. I would see God’s children as irresponsible, as mundane and irreverent. Needless to say, I thought less of my brothers and sisters. Their lack of response made me lose respect for them in all manners. I would see them as my enemies, because they were enemies of God. I WAS WRONG!

Reading this verse, I can see how wrong I was to treat them that way. Paul’s instruction was to not regard them as enemies, and that is exactly what I did. Paul’s instruction is to go talk to that person as a brother. When you love your brother, you will be kind. You will have a listening ear. You want what is best for him. You will be patient. You will have compassion. God wants us to help him, not fight him. It took some time for me to understand that. I understood it when someone came to talk to me when I wasn’t listening. I will always appreciate my brother for doing that.