Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 29, 2013 0 comments

Do you have a person in your life that you just want to avoid? Maybe it’s a parent who nags you. Maybe it’s that friend who only contacts you when she wants you to do something for her. Maybe it’s a coworker who only wants to gossip when you want to get your work done. Maybe it’s someone whose personality just doesn’t mesh with yours.

That feeling you have about that person - that you just want to deliberately avoid them - is the word for this week: shun. You can shun a person by purposefully avoiding them all the time, or you can shun a thing, like avoiding alcohol or smoking. But what does that have to do with the Bible?

The Bible does tell us about many things we should shun, or avoid. Just look at the Ten Commandments or Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount for a number of examples! But, there are actually times that the Bible instructs us that we may need to shun people as well.

Take a look at 1 Corinthians 5:11, which says, “But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.” The apostle Paul here appears to be instructing us to essentially shun those who commit those sinful acts, but why would he say that? Well, there are a few reasons.

One reason that Paul would instruct us to shun a person is for our own good and to keep ourselves out of trouble. Paul knew how humans work; if we’re around a habit (whether good or bad), we tend to pick it up ourselves. For example, if we’re around greedy people, we tend to become greedy ourselves. I believe he mentions eating with them specifically, because sharing a meal with someone is a way you really get to know them. Eating a meal with someone is the easiest way to become associated with them.

Another reason is for that person’s own good. Maybe telling them in love that they’re doing something wrong isn’t getting through to them, but maybe through the act of shunning they would realize their sin and repent from it.

Finally, it is important to note that Paul is talking to the early church at Corinth in this letter, and the sinner in question is a part of the church family. This person is claiming to be a follower of Christ, but his or her actions are completely going against that. Again, this may be a time where shunning could urge that person toward repentance. We should not shun all people who commit sins; if that were the case, how could we ever share the message and love of Jesus with those who have not yet heard about Him?

We could take Galatians 6:1 as an addendum to 1 Corinthians 5:11. It says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” If a person is committing a sin (such as those in 1 Corinthians 5:11), we shouldn’t shun them forever, but we should help restore them to right living. Again, though, Paul warns that we need to be careful so we’re not tempted to commit the same sin they fell into.

Are you shunning anyone in your life right now? What is your motivation for that - are you doing it so you don’t get dragged into their sin, are you doing it to restore them to a good relationship with God, or are you doing it simply because you don’t particularly like them? Regardless, take note that Jesus calls us to love one another (1 John 4:7-8), not shun one another. We may need to shun them for a time until we can assist in restoring them to right living with the Spirit’s help, but take care that you are showing love to those around you rather than shunning them.