Read Romans 16
Focus on verse 17
I typically don’t go out of my way to avoid people. On most occasions where it may appear that I am avoiding someone, it is more likely that I just didn’t hear him or her trying to get my attention because I have considerable hearing loss in my left ear. I will admit that there have also been times when I have used that as an excuse to avoid a person, but this typically does not happen often, and if you called me on it I would likely deny it anyway.
In today’s reading Paul mentions one particular type of person that he actually recommends we should avoid. The people he suggests we avoid are those who cause division and create obstacles within the church in order to advance their own personal agenda. Apparently it is not only permissible, but preferable that we avoid these.
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (v. 17)
The only thing I might suggest that is more critical to avoid than people who cause division within the church, is to be sure we avoid BEING the person who is causing the division. If you have ever had the opportunity to spend any length of time with a divisive person, you may have noticed that they tend not to be much fun to be around anyway. In most cases they are very negative people, always finding something or someone that is not right, about which they can complain.. All they are looking for is an ear willing to listen in the hope that they can garner support for their cause.
Perhaps the reason Paul encourages us to avid them is that if they have no one who will listen to them, two things may happen; first the divisive talk that they propagate will have a harder time making it into circulation, and if they get the idea nobody wants to hear it anyway, they might even find something more positive to say?