Six Scenarios Where We May Need to Break Contact with Others

woman standing at edge of dock on lake

This post is one I have been working on for awhile. I had some questions about this last week, as well. It is one of my least favorite topics ever! But it is important.

Breaking contact with people is something I do NOT enjoy doing.

Like – I REALLY, REALLY do not like having to do this. It’s painful. It’s heartbreaking. I want to just be able to work through things with others. I try to assume the best about others and try to be willing to reconcile. Most of the time, we can pray through conflicts and work through them successfully with others.

Sadly, breaking (or minimizing) contact with people in certain situations is necessary in this fallen world.

I have learned (the hard way – many, many times) that if I don’t stop communication with someone when I really should, I end up paying a steep price. Sometimes, my marriage and children also pay a high price. My ministry to other people suffers. And often, the person I wanted so much to help is harmed, as well.

This is exactly why I need God’s wisdom.

There is a delicate balance here. We are to love people with God’s unconditional love. We are to be kind, forgiving, gentle, gracious, merciful, and patient.

In life, some conflict is inevitable in following Christ and in human relationships. Just because there is conflict or I am sinned against doesn’t usually mean I should stop talking with someone. Most of the time, we can work things out, thankfully.

Of course, if there are things I can do on my end to repent of any sin in my life, I need to do that first (Matt. 5:23-24, Matt. 7:1-5).

But in certain situations – we just cannot have real peace with some people – unless something dramatic changes first on their end.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Rom. 12:18

Sometimes the situation doesn’t depend on me. Sometimes there is nothing I can do to correct the problem on my end.

If God gives me instructions about avoiding someone with a certain kind of spirit or behavior, I would do well to obey and trust God with the outcome.

Yes, even if I don’t like what He is asking me to do. It is for my own good – and, just as importantly, the good of everyone else involved.

Let’s see what Scripture has to say.

Here are six scenarios when we may need to break or minimize contact with others:

ONE

When a professing believer refuses to repent of significant sin.

Major unrepentant sin for a professing believer sets that person under God’s discipline. It hurts our witness to continue in fellowship with such a one. Those who belong to Christ should not be able to be content in sin.

  • If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matt. 18:15-17
  • But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. 1 Cor. 5:11
  • Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. 2 Thess. 3:6

TWO

When someone is trying to tempt us into sin.

We don’t play with temptation. We flee from it. Especially from idolatry and sexual immorality.

  • Let not your heart turn aside to (the adulteress’) ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Prov. 7:25-26 (Same is true for women, we should avoid men who are adulterers.)
  • Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 1 Cor. 6:18
  • Flee from idolatry. 1 Cor. 10:14
  • Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Tim. 2:22

THREE

When our husband asks us not to have contact with someone.

A husband generally does this to try to protect his wife, children, and marriage from situations like:

  • Men who are flirting or acting in inappropriate ways.
  • People who consume too much of his wife’s or family’s time.
  • People who are stressing his wife/children/himself out.
  • People who are toxic to be around.
  • People who can’t be reasoned with.
  • People who are very emotionally or verbally abusive.
  • People who make threats against someone in the family.
  • Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Col. 3:18-19
  • Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord… Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Eph. 5:22,33

Of course, sometimes we may see these issues ourselves and decide we need to break contact before our husband says anything.

Please search my blog for the word “submit” and “submission” to see many posts about what that means and what it doesn’t mean. It does not mean slavery, abuse, or Fifty Shades of Gray! It does not mean BDSM or CDD.

It is about a wife honoring her husband’s God-given leadership unless he asks her to clearly sin because God intends to lead, protect, and provide for her through him in certain ways. (See this post for times I would not submit to my husband.)

An exception to honoring your husband’s request not to talk with others would be if he is abusive and he is trying to isolate you and harm you. In a situation like that, or if he is not in his right mind, he’s drunk, high, or otherwise dangerous, please reach out for appropriate, qualified, trustworthy help. Talk with the police, check out resources at your church, talk with a trusted, experienced counselor, or contact The Hotline if it is safe for you to do so.

FOUR

With a foolish, divisive, or hot-tempered person, a gossip, or a slanderer.

These sins are contagious and poisonous. We must choose our friends, mentors, and influences wisely.

  • Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Prov. 13:20
  • Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler. Prov. 20:19
  • Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare. Prov. 22:24-25
  • I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our LORD Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Rom. 16:17-18
  • Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. Titus 3:10

FIVE

When a person is clearly a false teacher.

Sheep should not try to have discussions with wolves. The only sane thing for a sheep is to run away to the protection of the Good Shepherd.

  • Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them… A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Matt. 7:15-20
  • For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Matt. 24:24
  • I know that… fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Acts 20:29-30
  • See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Col. 2:8
  • If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 1 Tim. 6:3-5
  • Guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. 1 Tim. 6:20-21
  • But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 Pet. 2:1
  • I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them.  Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work. 1 John 1:7-11
  • Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 1 John 4:1-3

SIX

With those who refuse the gospel, “dogs,” or “swine.”

There is a time to share the Gospel and the love and power of God. Our goal is to share it with every living soul on the planet. But there is also a time to stop when someone is hostile or unreceptive and move on.

GotQuestions.org has a great explanation:

“Jesus uses dogs and pigs as representative of those who would ridicule, reject, and blaspheme the gospel once it is presented to them.”

  • And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. Matt. 10:14-15
  • And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” Mark 6:11
  • Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Matt. 7:6-7
  • In the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 1 Tim. 3:1-5

Should we never have contact with any of these people in these six scenarios again?

Sometimes we need to break contact just temporarily, until the other person repents and rebuilds trust on his/her side. Sometimes we must wait until they come to Christ and the Spirit opens their eyes. Sometimes our husbands change their minds about people. Of course, there are also times, unfortunately, when people do not change.

Our prayer is always for them to be reconciled to God, to the Body of Christ, and to us.

It’s important for me to remember that Jesus is the Savior and the Holy Spirit opens people’s eyes. I am not the savior of humanity. And I can’t even open my own eyes. If I stay and try to force someone to understand rather than relying on the Spirit, I will cause harm.

Our motives must always be wholehearted love for God, death to our sinful self, repentance from our own sin, obedience to the Lord in the power of the Spirit, and love for others. God’s kind of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 agape love. We must be careful not to do things out of hatred, bitterness, sinful anger, malice, or resentment.

When I do obey the Lord and don’t allow certain very toxic people into my life, I get to enjoy a whole lot more peace, I am less distracted by drama, temptation, false teaching, and snares from the enemy, and I can focus much more on Christ and all that He calls me to do. 

We need the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, God’s Word, prayer, and sometimes wise counsel from our husband or an appropriate godly mentor. These situations can get dicey quickly. So we want to lean on God not our own understanding.

SHARE

Is this topic difficult for you, too? What general godly wisdom have you learned that you would like to share?

AN IMPORTANT REQUEST

Let’s not share specific situations here.

A public forum like this is not an appropriate place to spill a lot of details about how someone mistreated us. Let’s go to the Lord, our own husbands, or other trusted counselors, in private, if we aren’t sure what to do.

If you need private counseling, please check out these resources:

  • Focus on the Family offers a one time free counseling consultation and counselor’s referral service.

Thanks so much! <3

NOTE

Sometimes we are in a very close relationship with someone and it may not be possible to completely break contact. This is all going to require God’s wisdom and His leading for us in specific situations. I don’t know what every person should do in every possible scenario. But God does.

We need His discernment, His mind, His power, His Spirit, and His heart. Sometimes, we may have to speak to people out of necessity. We can be respectful. We can have loving motives toward them. But we may have to set firm limits as the Word of God and the Spirit lead us.

May the Lord grant each of us the wisdom, love, and discernment we need.

MY NEXT POST

The next post in this series is about the opposite situation, “What If You Want Your Husband to Cut Ties with Someone?”

And the post after that is about “What If Your Husband Doesn’t Care about Your Feelings?”

RELATED

Why, When, and How Does the Lord God Discipline Us When We Sin? by www.gotquestions.org

What Did Jesus Mean When He Said to Not Cast Your Pearls Before Swine? by www.gotquestions.org

What Is the Gospel? by www.gotquestions.org

What Sort of Spiritual Boundaries Should We Set in Our Lives? by www.gotquestions.org

Boundaries Will Not Cure Codependency by www.desiringgod.org

Watch Out for Those Who Lead You Away from the Truth. by www.desiringgod.org

How to Interact with a Destructive Person by Leslie Vernick

My posts on conflict

How to Have a Saving Relationship with Christ

Articles about sound doctrine by www.gotquestions.org

The Real Motives Behind People Pleasing

Is Avoiding Arguing Really Possible?

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

We are continuing our 21 Day Fast from Negative Words and this week the focus will be on arguing. The Lord gives very clear instructions throughout the Bible that those who know, love, and follow Him are not to argue, quarrel, or fight.

Oh, and don’t forget to comment on how you are doing with the fast. Let us know if you are stuck or need some prayer or encouragement, too.

The Lord instructs all believers in Christ not to argue or quarrel.

  • Do everything without grumbling or arguing, Phil. 2:14
  • Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. Titus 3:1-2
  • Charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 2 Tim. 2:14

Sometimes conflict is inevitable. But arguing and quarreling CAN be avoided!

We need to be able to discuss, share, inform, request, and suggest things in our relationships. We even need to be able to appropriately confront sin, at times. We need to be able to state our opinions and desires respectfully. We need to be able to have important and unimportant discussions. Thankfully, we can do all of this without arguing with God’s help, wisdom, and power.

What Does It Mean to Argue or Quarrel?

Google Dictionary gives two definitions of arguing.

  1. give reasons or cite evidence in support of an idea, action, or theory, typically with the aim of persuading others to share one’s view.
2. exchange or express diverging or opposite views, typically in a heated or angry way.
In this post, we are talking about the second definition. Or about quarreling, squabbling, bickering, or fighting. We are not to pick fights. We are not to act foolishly, only caring about trying to force our own opinion and agenda on everyone with selfish motives. We are not to try to crush other people and hurt them to prove how “right” we are about something.

What Does It Mean to Discuss Something?

Google Dictionary gives three definitions of “discussion.” Here are two that are most pertinent to our conversation today.

  1. the action or process of talking about something in order to reach a decision or to exchange ideas.
  2. a conversation or debate about a certain topic.
Note that with a discussion, there is no anger.
There is no attempt to hurt others or to “win at all costs.” It is a peaceful conversation about ideas, priorities, perspectives, and solutions. This is very freeing! We can discuss without tension at all – recognizing that the relationship is generally more important than the issue being discussed. The only time the issue is more important is if it is something about God or sin. And even then the Lord instructs us to handle those who oppose us gently and with respect, desiring the opponents to come to repentance, salvation, and right relationship with God (2 Tim. 2:25).
We can respectfully share and discuss our perspectives, ideas, desires, needs, and concerns. We don’t have to insult anyone or be rude. We don’t have to go after anyone with sinful anger, rage, hatred, or malice. We don’t have to be selfish. We can remain Spirit-filled, self-controlled, calm, and peaceful. We can treat others with honor, godly love, and respect as we act in our new nature in the Lord.
Yes, even if we disagree.

Why Do We Quarrel and Argue in Sinful Ways?

The Bible shares several reasons for the prevalence of quarreling among believers:

The Cure Is to Live in the Spirit with Love and Humility

The cure for quarreling, bickering, and fighting:

  • Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Phil. 2:3-4
  • Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Eph. 4:2
  • A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
  • But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Gal. 5:16
  • But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22
  • If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, Luke 17:3

In witnessing, there are times to stop. When people don’t want to hear the Gospel and they reject it and us, we move on. This will help avoid quarrels, as well:

  • Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Matt. 7:6
  • And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them. Mark 6:11

But how in the world do I avoid arguing in practical ways when I live with sinful people who want to argue constantly? And how to I avoid arguing when I have my own sinful nature to contend with, as well?

Some Suggestions to Prayerfully Consider

To avoid arguing, there are some disciplines and things I need to pray about:

Some Verses about Avoiding Arguing and Quarreling:

From the New Testament:

  • As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. Rom. 14:1
  • But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. Titus 3:9-11
  • Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 2 Tim. 2:23-24
  • But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:17

From Proverbs:

  • Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm. Prov. 3:30
  • A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov. 15:1
  • A wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain. Prov. 19:13
  • It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling. Prov. 20:3
  • A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. Prov. 29:11
  • A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression. Prov. 29:22
  • Pressing anger produces strife. Prov. 30:33

SHARE

What are some things that have hit you in this post or in this series? How is your 21 day fast going? Do you need some encouragement or prayer? What has been the hardest part? Have you noticed any good fruit in your life or relationships?

Much love!

RELATED

We have been doing a 21 Day Fast from Negative Words inspired by this wife’s story. We started on Valentine’s Day and agreed that we would seek to avoid the following:

What Does It Mean to Accept Jesus As Your Personal Savior? by www.gotquestions.org

What Is Lordship Salvation? by www.gotquestions.org

Humility” by Andrew Murray

NOTE – If you are not safe, if someone is abusing you or threatening you or your children, please try to get to safety. Avoiding quarrels and arguments doesn’t mean we sit and take physical abuse or we just stay and let someone mistreat us terribly. Please reach out to proper authorities if you are not safe. Or you can contact www.thehotline.org if you are on a safe computer.

A Critical Spirit VS. a Godly Rebuke

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

 

As believers in Christ, we are not to have a critical, judgmental spirit, but there are times when we do need to share a life-giving, godly rebuke. We don’t just want to ignore a situation where someone is hurting others or himself/herself.

How can we rightly discern the difference?

Here is a picture that helps me. I imagine someone is in danger, hanging perilously from the edge of a tall cliff.

  • Do I want to kick the person’s hands so he/she falls farther?
  • Do I want to throw him/her a lifeline?

If I have a critical, judgmental spirit (if I am acting in my sinful flesh):

My motives will include things like: resentment, bitterness, condemnation of others, self-righteousness, hatred, jealousy, pride, hypocrisy, gossip, slander, or some other sinful motive. I do not examine myself first. I do not see sin in my own life. I approach the other person harshly and/or go to other people and tell them how terrible this person is. I cause division and more hurt. I set myself in the place of judge and jury – maybe even executioner. My sinful response only adds gasoline to the fire.

  • My primary goals are to exalt myself and hurt others. I want to see the person I criticize defeated. I view him/her as “the enemy.”

If I am operating in the power of the Holy Spirit:

My motives will include things like: wholehearted love for God, unconditional love for all the people involved, truth, a desire to see the sinning person turn to the Lord in true repentance, a willingness to examine my own life for sin first, a longing for spiritual healing for all involved, a desire for genuine unity in the Body of Christ, hatred of sin and the destruction it causes. I seek to approach the sinning person very humbly. I want to honor God’s Word in Matt. 7:1-5, Matt. 18:15-17, and Gal. 6:1-2 about how to lovingly, rightly confront a sinning brother/sister in Christ.

First I deal with sin in my own life thoroughly before the Lord and I also repent to anyone I have injured. I seek to make things right. Then I approach the person in private. I don’t share details all over social media or with my coworkers and friends. If the brother/sister still doesn’t repent, I bring 1-2 strong believers along with me to address the issue – again, in private. And then, if the person still doesn’t repent, we are supposed to take them before the church. I am to watch myself carefully, so that I do not fall into any sinful temptation myself in this process.

  • My primary goals are to exalt and honor the Lord, to build up His kingdom, and to bless and love others. I am throwing a lifeline to someone who is about to be swept away by danger. I want to see the real enemy (Satan) defeated and everyone in the Body of Christ healthy and functional. I want to see those who don’t know the Lord come to Him and be transformed and healed.

Lord,
Please radically transform our hearts and minds with the power of Your Spirit! How we need Your power and holiness each moment – that we might love You and love others. Use us to shine Your light in this dark world. Be greatly glorified in our lives and help us to rightly handle Your Word and difficult relationships.
Amen.

Check out the post below for a great summary about what it means to properly give a rebuke.

https://www.gotquestions.org/rebuke-believer.html

 

SHARE:

What are some red flags you have noticed to help you see your motives clearly before you attempt to address someone else’s sin or wrongdoing?

What things have you learned to help you respond in a godly way?

 

Much love!

 

IF YOU NEED PERSONAL HELP WITH A TOUGH PROBLEM:

If you are facing a difficult situation and someone is sinning against you and you need to talk about it – please seek wise, godly counsel in private.

Check out the free counseling resource at www.focusonthefamily.org, or you can check out www.biblicalcounseling.com to find a counselor. Or please check with a trusted pastor or godly mentor for a referral.

Of course, if you are facing someone who is extremely abusive or acting in dangerous ways, it may not be safe to confront them privately. There are times when things are so bad you may need to go directly to the police or seek outside help ASAP.