“Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother,” 2 Thessalonians 3:15
Many have those acquaintances in life that make them constantly shake their heads, and feel like throwing up their hands in exasperation. Especially when their behaviors do not line up with one’s beliefs. Many of the times one can feel justified in their decision to wash their hands of that relationship and count that person out. It doesn’t.
I’m so glad God has more patience with us than we have with one another. In our humanness, we are so quick to give up on what we perceive as a lost cause. Even members of our own family – oh, they may try us, but we can’t write them off.
When Jesus gave the command for His followers to be witnesses for Him in Acts 1:8, the first place that was mentioned was Jerusalem. Jerusalem was home base. Jerusalem was where everything started. He wanted the people “at home” to have the first shot of this powerful, saving message. In fact, that’s exactly what happened. When Peter got up on the Day of Pentecost and preached Jesus Christ to the people “in Jerusalem,” a mighty thing occurred. Acts 2:37 boldly tells us the message that was preached was their undoing. It says, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
That’s a powerful reversal of opinion by those who in verse 23 was accused in the killing of the Lord Jesus Christ. Bearing with people is not always the easiest thing to do, especially those closest to you. You know a lot about them and it is sometimes hard to envision a reversal on their part, but can I tell you something, they are still souls before God.
It is easier for us to “go into all the world,” (Mt. 28:19), then to make disciples out of those closest to us. Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” You might be the only glimpse of what life in Christ could be for them. But, if you give up on them and count them out, how will they see?
Your love, patience, and attitude toward another could be their deciding factor. “Count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” What if God had given up on us? Rather, Psalm 103:8-10 tells us, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.” We deserved the worse, but God saved us and gave us the best. He did not give up on us!
I can readily admit that before my relationship with Christ I was not all peaches and cream, nor was I sugar and spice and everything nice. I was a sinner. My life was not right. I was not born a Christian, and neither were you. God has been very patient with me, with us, and we should return that same grace to others.
It may be a work in progress for most of us, but at least it’s in progress. Therefore, we don’t have the right to count others out either. Our love, compassion, and desire to see them saved should always compel us to “admonish them as a brother.” People need you today, don’t count them out. Exhort one another in love. We need each other so badly to make it through. Our hearts should yearn to see all saved even when we don’t see it.