Reading in Romans 16 Paul started off by acknowledging some women of the church who had served and worked. Then he acknowledged some couples and gave greetings to a long list of people before cautioning the church about divisive people and warning them to watch out for the dissensions they cause and the obstacles that they try to promote that were contrary to the gospel they had been taught by Paul. He firmly warned them to avoid them all together and Paul wasn’t shy at all in going as far as to say that they don’t serve Jesus Christ because they serve their own appetites. This is warning is a very small section, but I felt it held a lot of weight. We tend to want to debate with people who disagree with us or somehow attempt to educate people in their doctrine, but truthfully, we have to be very careful because when we do this, we are also entering the conversation from a level of the mind and not necessarily being led by the Holy Spirit. We have so much more opportunity to find ourselves in these kinds of conversations because of social media. There are things we will never be able to convince with the intellectual mind and when we try to do this we become arrogant in our approach. We need to pray for people who are misled before trying to counsel them out of it. The Holy Spirit can reach the heart in ways we can’t. Sometimes the dissensions that are contrary to the gospel are about other people. People who are talking about other people and rushing to judgment about their lives, their motives, and their private business. This should not be happening in the church, but unfortunately where there are people gathered, there are all levels of maturity and immaturity all together. When people get together, they talk, and if they are immature in their faith they will talk about people and their private family situations and out of their immaturity they pronounce their judgment on them. Paul is boldly calling out that people who are doing this are not serving God. They are serving their own appetite for gossip and judgment. Paul sternly warns us to stay away from people like this. I personally shut down anyone who would try to gossip to me about someone else’s life situation and I firmly remind them that the person they are talking about is accountable under a leader who is guiding them. My go-to is stop them right away and pray for a spirit of unity. There is no place for gossip or dissension in the church and it should be the responsibility of each one of us to shut down any that comes in our direction, but I love that Paul ended this warning on a strong and powerful note by saying “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” People will talk, but ultimately, God has the final word.

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