Thursday, 10 July 2008
We've all heard the sermons and verses concerning our neighbors and how to treat them once they've hurt you: Love your neighbor, love your enemies, turn the other cheek, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Forgive however many number of times, because God forgave us first. Those phrases are basically quotable by now, but I wonder if it's right to ever just cut off all ties with a person.
There's a passage in Matthew that says that if your brother sins against you, take it up with him one-on-one, then take it up with witnesses, and then the church, and if that doesn't work, treat him like you would a tax collector. The thing is, how would you apply that today, especially in relationships with non-believers? I can understand taking up a conflict with a trusted third party, but it's not as if you can take it up with a church if that person doesn't even go to church.
All literal interpretations of verses aside, and purely in the sense of discernment, is it Biblical to stop giving someone chances? Like everybody else, I've been hurt before. I once sought the advice of a church leader after I'd determined that it was no longer healthy to have that person in my life. Despite not interacting with that person, however, I still felt unforgiving. The church leader ended up telling me to reconcile with that person, which I didn't do since I honestly believed that maintaining any semblance of a relationship would not result in good things.
I've since contemplated distancing myself from people who meant a lot to me at one point, but whose interactions with me now bring up warning signals in my brain. I feel convicted, as if I should continue keeping the relationship as it is if I truly forgive them...but I don't know if forgiving someone requires that you trust them 100% all over again. Let's say I had a cheating boyfriend, and he came back, begged me for forgiveness, and ended the affair. Say I decided to give him a second chance and took him back again. In that sense, I've forgiven him, but I don't think I would trust him to be alone at parties full of beautiful women from then on.
Then again, how many times have I cheated on God? I've neglected my relationship with Him for a number of things, whether it be friends, guys, grades, or even more time playing games on the internet. There is no reason why He should take me back everytime I hit rock bottom and come crawling back to Him, yet He does - and He does so KNOWING fully that I'm just gonna up and do the same thing again. I'm essentially taking advantage of his blessings, because as soon as things start going well again, I get distracted and forget about God. There is no logical reason why he should answer my prayers.
My question is, do you think we are required to do the same with people, or are there legitimate reasons to just cut them off/distance yourself (far, far, far away)? I'm not talking just random acquaintances here, I mean people who've been with you through thick and thin (and you with them), but for whatever reason, your relationships keeps deteriorating. Do you pray that God will repair it, and then see what happens? Or does God ever make it clear to you that a person He brought into your life is not supposed to stay in it?
Have you ever broken off a friendship/close relationship completely?