This post is one I have been working on for awhile. It is one of my least favorite topics ever! But it is important.
Breaking contact with people is something I do NOT enjoy doing. AT ALL.
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 loved ones also pay a high price. My ministry to other people suffers. My spiritual growth and development 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.
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. That’s frustrating, but it is real life, at times.
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. (Note, to see this post with the scriptures included, please click here.)
Here are six times when we may need to break or minimize contact with others:
1. When a professing believer has significant unrepentant sin in his/her life.
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. And we may learn the sinning person’s ways. Those who belong to Christ should not be able to be content in sin.
- Matt. 18:15-17
- 1 Cor. 5:11
- 2 Thess. 3:6
2. When someone tries to tempt us into sin.
We are not supposed to play around or flirt with temptation. We flee from it. Especially from idolatry and sexual immorality.
- Prov. 7:25-26
- 1 Cor. 6:18
- 1 Cor. 10:14
- 2 Tim. 2:22
3. When a legitimate God-given authority in our lives asks us not to speak with someone.
If you are still an underage minor, your parents have authority and responsibility for you legally and in God’s eyes. Parents may ask you to stop having contact with someone to try to protect you from things like:
- Guys who are flirting or acting in inappropriate ways.
- People who consume too much of your time.
- People who are stressing you out.
- People who are toxic to be around.
- People who can’t be reasoned with.
- People they don’t know well or don’t trust.
- People who are very emotionally or verbally abusive.
- People who make threats against someone in the family.
Of course, sometimes we may see these issues ourselves and decide we need to break contact before our parents say anything. That’s totally fine. We should be using wise discernment on our own, as well.
Your boss, pastor, or mentor may also encourage you to avoid contact with certain people if they are concerned for your wellbeing. It is smart to prayerfully consider advice that comes from trustworthy, godly sources. Of course, if the person in a leadership position is abusing you or trying to isolate you and harm you, do NOT cooperate with them, seek appropriate help ASAP! (Contact the police if you are truly not safe.)
Once you are married, your husband may ask you to avoid contact with certain people for very similar reasons as those listed above. God places the husband in the leadership position in the family to protect, provide for, and guide the family. He is supposed to keep the wellbeing and good of his wife and family in mind and honor the Lord above all in his love for his wife and children.
- Col. 3:18-19
- Eph. 5:22-33
- Eph. 6:5 (honor employers)
- Heb. 13:17-19
4. With a divisive, hot-tempered, or foolish person, a slanderer, an idolator, a greedy person, or a gossip.
These sins are contagious and poisonous. We must choose our friends, mentors, and influences wisely and not allow ourselves to be influenced toward sin.
- Prov. 13:20
- Prov. 20:19
- Prov. 22:24-25
- Rom. 16:17-18
- Titus 3:10
5. When a person is clearly a false teacher.
Sheep should not attempt to have discussions with wolves. The only sane thing for a sheep is to run away to the protection of the Good Shepherd.
- Matt. 7:15-20
- Matt. 24:24
- Acts 20:29-30
- Col. 2:8
- 1 Tim. 6:3-5
- 1 Tim. 6:20-21
- 2 Pet. 2:1
- 1 John 1:7-11
- 1 John 4:1-3
6. With those who refuse the gospel, “dogs,” or “swine.”
There is a time to share the Gospel, the love of God, and the power of God. Our goal is to share it with every person in the world. 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.”
- Matt. 10:14-15
- Mark 6:11
- Matt. 7:6-7
- 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 parents 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.
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.
We need the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, God’s Word, prayer, and sometimes wise counsel an appropriate godly mentor. These situations can get dicey quickly, so we want to lean on the Lord not our own understanding.
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 does want me to do.
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 detail how someone mistreated us. Let’s go to the Lord, our godly parents, 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
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.
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 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
What Is the Gospel by www.gotquestions.org
Articles about Sound Doctrine by www.gotquestions.org