Titus 3: 10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.
There was little wonder about the content of the article after I read the title: “30 Worst Clubhouse Cancers in Baseball History”. Articles such as this are obviously subjective by nature, but when you hear the same stories repeated by multiple teammates, a pattern emerges about certain players. The author, Robert Knapel, goes back over a hundred years to identify some reportedly cancerous players, such as Marty Bergen. Apparently “it got so bad that teammates hoped that he would not return following the 1899 season”. More recent examples cited by Knapel included Barry Bonds “There are 24 teammates, and there’s Barry Bonds”; Sammy Sosa “There was talk that Sosa was a clubhouse cancer and that he had a negative impact on the team in the locker room”; and Ricky Henderson “As was evident from his persona, Henderson really cared about himself and his performance”.
If you think back to the many sports teams you were or are a part of, I’m sure you can picture some divisive figures. There are teammates who are all about the team and making it better, but then there are those who don’t seem to get the concept of “team”. Their own well-being and accomplishments seem to be the only important thing; being on the team is all about what they can “get”, not “give”. A team, however, can only function at its highest level with unity, and unfortunately such cancerous teammates bring only division.
Divisive people are not confined to athletic teams. You will find them in all facets of life: school, the workplace, clubs, even in the church. As Christians, what does the Bible have to say about division? Firstly, it is evident in the earliest scriptures that God is all about unity. It is easy to miss, but in Genesis 1:26, God said: “Let US make mankind in OUR image”. He modeled out a team when God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit, in unity, created mankind. In one of the shortest Psalms in the Bible (Psalm 133), David declares God’s heart: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (vs. 1). So not surprisingly, God takes a pretty hard stance on the opposite of unity – division. Proverbs 6: 16 says: “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him”, and he ends the list with: “and a person who stirs up conflict in a community” (vs. 19). So how do we deal with divisive people in the church?
When Paul was writing to his co-worker Titus, he advised him regarding dealing with divisive people. He instructed him to “10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.” (Titus 3:10-11). This should first be a warning to us. Do you have a divisive spirit in you? Would people consider you a person who brings unity or disunity to a situation or a group? If it is the latter, you need to confess this to God and take steps to change this in your life. If there is a divisive Christian in your life, God may be calling you to take the approach Paul advises above. There are times where we need to be firm and state that we will have nothing to do with divisive behavior, and if it does not change there are even times where we need to separate ourselves from such people. We need to continue to pray for humility and desire a godly change, but there are times when our only recourse is to disengage. Continue to fight for unity in the areas of influence God has placed you. Be prepared to be bold.