“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”
I have been around the ministry my entire life, and it doesn’t matter what you do, you are going to find that divisions and offences occur in the ministry. Paul warns the believer to “mark them which cause divisions and offences…” As wise as the Apostle Paul was, he knew that even he couldn’t avoid these divisions and offences that happen in a church. Now, most divisions and offences can be avoided. Most divisions and offences have nothing to do with doctrine, but with petty believers who get their feelings hurt. Romans 16 shows six things you, or even everyone in your church can do to avoid divisions and offences from destroying your church.
First, realize that people will have divisions. As long as there are people in the ministry, there will be personality conflicts, division, and people being offended. The divisions and offences in a church are likely not a reflection of the leader, but the fleshliness and worldliness of those who are offended and causing division. You can try to remove divisions and offences, but the only way you will remove it all is to remove all the people, which is not possible. Therefore, you must realize that you are going to have to deal with divisions in the church.
Second, be a servant. In verse 1, Paul pointed out that Phebe was a servant. Being a servant instead of looking to be served is the greatest way to avoid being offended or causing division in the church. Stop looking for people to serve you, and realize that any position you have is so that you can be a servant to others.
Third, be a helper of people. In verses 3 and 9, Paul points out people who were helpers. If you get busy helping people, you won’t have time to see where someone has offended you. My experience has been that most of the people who are offended are people who don’t help others and are looking for others to serve them. When you are busy being a servant and helping others, you will be too busy to worry about being offended.
Fourth, get busy laboring in the LORD. Paul pointed out several people who were laboring in the LORD. These laborers were not the ones causing the divisions. My friend, you are certain to find flaws in the church when you are sitting and observing the laborers. Instead of observing the laborers in the ministry, you would be wise to get busy being a laborer yourself. If your Christian walk is labor-based, you will find that your Christian walk won’t be marked with causing division over being offended.
Fifth, stay busy soul winning. In verse 5, Paul points out a believer who was the firstfruit of Achaia. Soul winners are eternity focused, and when you are eternity focused, you won’t have time to be offended. You could resolve many offences by just becoming a soul winner.
Sixth, be careful of your acquaintances and conversations. The verse above talks about marking people who cause divisions. Don’t spend time with people who see all the problems in the church. Mark those who always have the “scoop” on everything, and stay away from them. Divisions and offences can be avoided if those who cause them with their gossiping tongue are avoided.