Peter’s disability causes him to have many inappropriate behaviors.  He can be disruptive and even rude.  Yet, I would never consider Peter a troublemaker.

Because of Laurie’s disability, she is unable to control her appetite.  It’s an uncontrollable urge that drives her every moment of the day.  She must be watched one on one.  Her food seduction makes her manipulative and sneaky.  But Laurie isn’t a true troublemaker.

I’ve found that in our community of believers, it is not those people who have overt, inappropriate behaviors that are the troublemakers.  Paul warned Timothy in his second letter, “Beware of trouble makers.”  But who are they?

We’ve found that the gossips in our community are the real troublemakers.  They are the people who stir up interesting bits of gossip and misunderstanding, generously pouring into the fusion people’s reputations.  They continue to stir and blend unhealthy ingredients until every person’s character and moral fiber have been incorporated into the mixing bowl.  They then insert their unhealthy concoction into the oven of suspicion and guilt and out pops a batch of trouble. 

These are the true troublemakers within our cloistered subculture. Unfortunately, our community isn’t unique.  Their wares appear in the most Christ-like as well as the most desperate of environments.  Using their tasty baked goods, talebearers are able to ruin even the most sterling of reputations.  Good qualities of a person’s character can be distorted into warped caricatures to be mocked and despised. 

Sure, troublemakers do come in all forms, shapes and sizes.  Human nature can concoct amazing distortions.  Nonetheless, pastors and group leaders who deal with divergent populations will attest that occasionally, most people will cause distractions and disruptions.  While these are pesky, they can be dealt with more easily than the chronic cancer of the gossip.  He  is the one person who maims and destroys.

Paul gives good advice.  He says to watch out for these troublemakers.  He is also saying, “Beware.”  It isn’t hard to assume that he is indicating that we should recognize their skillful, divisive actions.  Paul doesn’t give any concrete ways to avoid such folks.  Perhaps because they are found in every group and situation.  Their influence is undeniable and pervasive.  Therefore, being on guard against the destruction they can cause may be the best weapon that can be used in defense of the innocent.