S (Scripture): 2 Thessalonians 3:13 But you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing what is right. 14 But if anyone does not obey our message through this letter, take note of him and do not associate closely with him, so that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
O (Observation): Paul understands the importance of bringing a consistent witness for those who follow him. He understands that bringing people along in the faith is great, but that also means challenging them when they go astray. Paul urges them to always do good.
A (Application): INVITATION & CHALLENGE
The concept that Paul engages here is about a balance between invitation and challenge. He understands that people need to be kept active in the faith and felt welcome to be a part of the Christian community, but at the same time held accountable when they are clearly showing a lack of obedience to God.
That’s a hard balance to strike. We don’t always get it right.
And yet this was Jesus’ approach to ministry. How did he handle challenge? Scripture points us to a particular way in which we are called to be obedient.
Obedience flows from our Identity. A good seed turns into a good tree that bears good fruit. Jesus wasn’t big into wagging a finger at us when we did wrong. Instead, he would remind us of who and whose we are. And from that identity, would flow our obedience to the Lord.
The same can be said for God’s word through Paul. Paul reminds them of their identity: “admonish him as a brother.” (And I’ll add “sister.”)
As brothers and sisters in Christ, our identity comes from God the Father, who expects us to bear good fruit. And when some of us are not bearing good fruit (or bearing no fruit), we lean into the Invitation (our identity as brothers and sisters) in order to Challenge another believer in Christ.
Only through our Identity as children of God, are we able to challenge one another in a healthy way.
P (Prayer): Lord, give us a new identity in you. Help us to be secure as your children, so we can be free to challenge our brothers and sisters in the faith. Amen.