In the instruction on withdrawing from a disorderly member of the church, found in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15, the words are clear: The member has been disorderly (vv. 6, 10-11), and is now to be noted and association with him withheld (v. 14). Paul then adds, “Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (v. 15). One asks, “How do you do that?”
The first consideration has to do with the basic connection the person has had with you: You have been together in the family of God, as brethren in the Lord! And, for all the sinfulness in his life, he remains your brother and yet still having potential for good and for spirituality if he can be regained. He is not an enemy, except for his manner of life and conduct that is repulsive to the saint. An enemy might be shunned even to the extent that you would never say a word to him, nor he to you. But this is not the case; this is your brother.
So, while you cannot keep company with him, or have meals with him (1 Corinthians 5:11) or otherwise deal with him in a fashion wherein he might think you approve of him and his behavior, you can still make contact with him. In what manner? Paul answers, “For purposes of admonishing him.” There can be the calls, contacts and even the visits, provided the contact centers on that point: You point out the man’s sins to him, express your desire – and God’s – that he return to faithfulness, and let that be it! And, keep that up, as often as you have occasion to speak to him! Thus, AS A BROTHER ONCE FAITHFUL IN THE LORD, and now unfaithful, BUT STILL YOUR BROTHER, you make the brotherly approach to him to urge his restoration to faithfulness.
THE SOUTHWESTERNER, December 13, 1989