Divisive people should be avoided because of the problems they cause. When I found myself dealing with one I went to God’s Word to see how to respond and my studying produced the post, “How Do You Deal with Fools?” Scripture is clear the correct way to deal with fools is by not responding. The main reason is they’re too prideful to receive correction well. The same is true with divisive people. In my studying, I learned six reasons they should be avoided…
1. Avoid divisive people, because that’s what God commands.
If this was the only reason it would be enough:
- Romans 16:17 I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.
- Titus 3:10a Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition.
Divisive people are such a threat they have to be “noted” or watched, and then “avoided” or “rejected.”
2. Avoid divisive people, because they destroy a church’s unity and witness.
When people think of the “worst sins” divisiveness probably doesn’t come to mind, and this is unfortunate. Proverbs 6:16-19 lists six sins God hates, and a seventh that is detestable to Him: “one who sows discord among brethren.” Most other translations say “brothers” (ESV, NASB). These are ways to refer to God’s people.
When Jesus prayed for all believers in His High Priestly prayer in John 17:21-23 He discussed the importance of unity in the church…
“[I pray] that [believers] all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”
Jesus compares the unity He wants believers to have with the unity He has with His Father, revealing how serious it is when a divisive person threatens it. Why? Because it is the church’s unity that allows the world to believe “the Father sent the Son.”
When there’s division in churches, the unbelieving world looks on and doubts the credibility of Christianity: “These people are supposed to be known for their love, and they can’t even get along.” Unbelievers shake their heads and walk away in unbelief.
NOTE: if you’d like more info on the above verses, please listen to this sermon I preached: Unity in Suffering.
3. Avoid divisive people, because they destroy a church’s joy.
When Sheba lead his rebellion, “David said to Abishai, ‘Now Sheba the son of Bichri will do us more harm than Absalom. Take your lord’s servants and pursue him, lest he find for himself fortified cities, and escape us’” (2 Sam 20:6).
Absalom caused a LOT of problems, but amazingly David said Sheba’s divisiveness would cause even more problems. Why is that? Because he was threatening to split the nation (2 Samuel 20:1-2), and this is exactly what divisive people do in the church. They turn people against each other. As a result, believers dread seeing each other. They see church events as a burden instead of a joyful time of worship.
4. Avoid divisive people, because they distract God’s people.
Our associate pastor, Doug Connell, has been like an armor bearer to me. When he learned of the divisive person’s actions, he met with the leadership and their wives. I was invited not to attend so it wouldn’t look as though I was behind it.
It frustrated me to know the leadership and their wives’ had to spend their time on something unrelated to the spread of the Gospel, discipleship, counseling, etc. But this is what divisive people do: they occupy people with conflict and strife instead of productive ministry.
5. Avoid divisive people, because they’re “warped.”
Titus 3:11 A divisive person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.
The Greek word for “warped” is ekstrephō and this is the only place it occurs in Scripture. It means, “To turn or twist.” Divisive people are “twisted.” You can’t help them because they’re unreasonable. They can’t be counseled. It’s similar to dealing with fools.
6. Avoid divisive people, because they think they’re the cause for righteousness.
Instead of seeing themselves in sin, divisive people often think they’re fighting the good fight. They act like they’re looking out for the best interests of others.
Korah is probably the Bible’s most famous divisive person and in Numbers 16:3 he told Moses and Aaron:
“You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?”
Korah acted like he was acting on behalf of the people, but Moses didn’t see it that way, and more importantly God didn’t see it that way. In one of the most dramatic events in Scripture, God revealed how He felt about Korah’s actions when He made the ground open up and swallow him and those with him (Num 16:28-34). This was a very strong revelation of the way God views divisive people and it serves as a good conclusion for this post.
- If you have faced a divisive person before, how did you handle it?
- Can you think of any other reasons divisive people should be avoided?