Romans 1:24-32 not withstanding, God doesn’t give up on people. I want to talk about situations when we have to give up on people. I don’t want to be misunderstood, so going into this, let me state that what I am referring to is whether we reach the point in a relationship where another party has been so hostile or unwilling to redeem the relationship that we must walk away.
Not to long ago, I walked away from such a toxic relationship. I’m not sure what caused things to go bad between me and the other individual. I’ve spent many hours in soul-searching and prayer, trying to find anything I might have done to harm them, and found nothing. Be that as it may, the relationship became one in which the other party would talk about me, or around me, but never directly to me. And trust me when I say that what was being said about or around me was the opposite of complimentary. My presence was guaranteed to generate angry glares and a hostile atmosphere directed at me.
The problem with such behavior, of course, is that even if I HAD done something to offend this other party, the response is hardly in keeping with how Jesus asks us to treat other Christians.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
No one that is not completely naive would think for a moment that Christians do not ever have arguments, or get into conflict with each other, or do things that hurt other Christians. But it’s certainly not how Jesus commands us to treat each other. And no doubt recognizing that — frankly speaking — we were bound to mess it up on occasion, Jesus also gave us some directions for how to repair things when relationships get broken.
“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17)
This is a passage designed to help Christians redeem broken relationships. Yet it also seems clear to me from Jesus’ words that despite the best efforts of individuals and bodies of believers, sometimes one party simply doesn’t want to see the damage repaired. The Apostle Paul also recognized that sometimes things just weren’t going to get worked out between individuals.
“If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18)
So what do you do, when you’ve done all that you can to close the breach, you’ve followed the command of Jesus, and the other party simply seems to have no interest in seeking a healthy, Godly relationship? At that point it is time to give up on that person, and walk away. It’s time to let your church leaders and God deal with the other person.
What do you think? Have you ever had to walk away from a broken relationship?