You Have the Right to Choose Your Relationships – and the Right to Reject Others

1Co 5:11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

Tit 3:10-11 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, (11) knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

You all know the pattern. You come to see the toxicity of a relationship, be it an abuser spouse or some reviler. Often these kinds of people come at us in the most intimate settings – such as marriage or family. And you see it and you choose to separate from them. What happens? What happens especially in church settings or in family settings? YOU become the culprit. YOU are the one to blame. Why? Because YOU won’t reconcile. You won’t “forgive.” You are stubborn. Some pastors and churches will even throw you under the bus and out the door for taking such a stand.

I have seen and experienced this many times myself. Why won’t Jeff forgive? Why won’t Jeff join in the family again? Why won’t Jeff…stop being such a pain? Plug your own name in those sentences.

The Lord has given us the right to choose our relationships. To choose our friends. In fact, as you can see in the verses above (and there are many more), God commands us not to have relationships with certain kinds of individuals. But selfish people who aren’t interested in obeying the Lord simply want us to “forgive and forget” so that their own comfy world isn’t rocked.

God does not tell us that we are to separate from wicked people UNLESS they are a sibling or spouse or parent or child. In fact, take careful note in the 1 Cor 5 passage that He tells us to ESPECIALLY separate from a wicked person who claims to be a fellow Christian. And in Matthew 10 He tells us that He came into this world to separate – to bring a sword rather than peace. So that our enemies will be people in our own household! That is what the gospel effects in a sinful world.

So, why is that the mass of professing Christians and pastors flat our oppose all these commands of Christ? Why is it that they blame the victim when this separation occurs? I can tell you. Because most of them aren’t Christians at all. They are not born again. How do I know? Because Jesus says so:

Luk 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

Mat 10:36-37 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. (37) Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

So don’t wear this badge of blame and guilt that most people will put upon you when you separate from evil. You have the right and duty to choose your relationships. And to reject relationships. Even “blood” doesn’t trump this right (ie, “but they are your sister-brother-son-daughter-parent!”). In fact Jesus points directly to these familial relationships as the ones we can expect to see division at most often. The question is not “why won’t you reconcile with him/her?” but rather, “why are you still hanging around with that wicked person?”

The Disguised “Friend”

Psa 55:20-21 My companion stretched out his hand against his friends; he violated his covenant. (21) His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.

One of the characteristics of the wicked which I have seen repeatedly over the years is the seemingly instantaneous transition from our best friend to our worst enemy. In fact a transformation has not occurred. Such a person has always been an enemy – disguised as a friend.

When a wicked person determines that we can be “of use” to them…they use us. And the typical way this goes is that they approach us as a genuine friend. And they sure seem like it! They want to be around us. They invite us to do things with them. They compliment us and encourage us. They profess their loyalty to us and they even stand with us against enemies.

But then…

…the transformation. This can happen years into such a relationship, or it may happen on the honeymoon as many of you know whose abuser was a spouse. Literally and almost unbelievably they become our enemy. Overnight! One day they are our loyal friend and the next morning…it’s over. How can this be?

Well, let me tell you. The fact is the friendship was always a disguise. It was motivated by a desire to use you for some evil purpose. They use you as a vehicle to ride to some desired destination on – fame, popularity, wealth, feeding their desire to control (yes, they controlled you in ways you may not have even seen). Paul mentions this wicked business in Galatians:

Gal 4:17 They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them.

In some moment of time, these kind realized that you were of no use to them any longer. Perhaps Christ’s light in you was shining too brightly and threatening to expose them. Perhaps your growth in Christ was taking you in the path He calls you to and they wanted no part of going along with you. But their decision was made, and they cast you off. Cold. Heartless. Without conscience. As if your “friendship” never existed, as if all the history of your life with them was erased. And really, it was erased by them. If you doubt that, just run into them a year later or so and you can tell that they treat you like a total stranger, as if they had never known you.

This is the devil’s work. These are the methods of his servants. It turns out, they never loved you at all. And knowing this is wisdom.

Hezekiah’s Prayer as a Model for Us

Our friend Lynn, who has experienced intense abuse at the hands of those who should have loved her, tailored the prayer of Hezekiah [2 Kings 19:14-19] for her situation and thought it might also be a good help for others to fit to their own experience. You will notice that it is a prayer that many if not most pastors and church members would reject as being “harsh, unforgiving, unkind, bitter….” yada, yada. But here’s what trips those people up – it is drawn right from Scripture.

So, here it is:

“Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see the great [physical, psychological, sexual, mental, emotional, financial, and spiritual] burden placed upon me by the words and actions of these wicked men and/or women – [insert name or names of those who abused you] – all who profess know you, follow you, and speak for you; listen to the vile, manipulative, fraudulent words they have spoken to me in your name. Their words and abusive actions continually profane your holy name making it a mockery in the world. Let the stench of their sin intensify in your presence to the point where your anger is kindled and you take action against them.

Repay each one of them for the evil they have inflicted upon me and bring about their swift destruction, so that no one else may be harmed in the way they’ve harmed me. Strike fear into their hearts so that they are paralyzed by it. Torment their minds to the point where the only way they will get relief is to restore all that they have stolen and destroyed in my life. Let their relationships crumble and have no one trust them, not even family. Place an unseen mark on them that others will sense and know to stay away from. Have their resources dry up so that they have to struggle and toil to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. Inflict their bodies and minds with diseases that will mimic all the physical and emotional pain they’ve inflicted on me and their other victims that doctors cannot provide relief for or healing for. Let them experience the [list the specific ailments you have or are experiencing. E.g. PTSD, anxiety, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chronic inflammation and fatigue, brain fog, and poor quality sleep] every day of their lives until they genuinely repent of their sin to you and make full restitution to me. 

Withhold your blessing from them and magnify the curses their actions deserve until they genuinely repent of their wickedness and they are willing to offer full restitution to me for the [say the specific harm inflicted on you – E.g. physical, mental, emotional, psychological, sexual, financial and/or spiritual] harm they have inflicted on me. If they will not repent, then continue to inflict the punishment their wickedness requires until you bring about their just end O Lord. 

Now, Lord my God, deliver me from the after effects of their wickedness. I humbly ask that you restore to me all that was stolen, damaged or destroyed – be it [ insert what you lost or was destroyed here.  E.g. finances, property, relationships, self-confidence, payment for past work, health, everything…] – as a sign of your faithful love to me, like you did with your servant Job, and so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God. To You be all the glory, honor and praise.

Amen.