Summary: What do we do when the situation gets so bad that we need to break relationship?
Justin & Marie July 12
Sarah & Wes – July 17
Jesus and Toxic People 4
Recap – do not lose the radical nature of Jesus’ treatment of Judas.
Confronting Toxic people – restore them gently
In the power of God’s love.
Sarah’s “yeah but…”
What if someone is abusive?
What if someone is so toxic that you have to break relationship with them?
Read Matthew 18:15-19
Detail the process
1. "If a brother or sister sins, go and point out the fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.
This is not what we normally do – normally we complain about the person to anyone who will listen! The Bible teaches us to keep conflict contained.
“A man who went to a priest and confessed that the Lord had recently convicted him of gossip. He wanted to know what he could do to make it right. The priest told him to go to the top of a mountain, rip open a feather pillow, turn the feathers loose in the wind, and then come back the next day. So the man did like he was told. He went to the top of a mountain, tore open a feather pillow, and scattered the feathers to the wind. The next day he went back to the priest and asked what he was to do next. The priest told him to go back and collect all of the feathers. The man complained that it would be impossible to collect all of those feathers. They were scattered everywhere. That, my friend, was the point. Once you begin to gossip, the words to spread scatter to the wind and can never be retrieved. You don’t know where they are going to go, where they will land, or whom they will hurt.”
- keeps it contained
- allows the “sinner” to save face
- enables repentance more than public shaming
- enables you to see where you might have been wrong
We might want to go to them and say, “you’re a jerk, stop being a jerk!” But that isn’t usually helpful. You might think that the person has more faults than can be counted, but if you are going to go to them to bring repentance, it has to be over one issue, and you need to stick to that issue.
Remember that Satan is the accuser, and the Holy Spirit is the convictor. The Devil will come to you and give you a vague feeling of being sinful, or being a jerk, The Spirit comes to us and points out behaviors that are specific and changeable. The Devil’s purpose is to keep us wallowing in guilt, shame & sin. The Spirit’s purpose is to restore us to right relationship with God, others, and creation.
When we approach toxic people about their toxicity, we want to be like the Spirit, not like the devil. We want to help them deal with specific, changeable behaviors that are hurting us, others and themselves.
The Goal is winning them over.
We don’t use Matthew 18 15-19 as hoops to jump through so that we are allowed to break relationship with someone with a clear conscience. We follow it’s guidance with the hopes of restoring people back to right relationship with ourselves and God.
Galatians 6:1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.
My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring them back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the way of error will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
2. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ’every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
Have an “intervention” – this is not a way to beat up upon the person, but it is to encourage them to change – to show that you are not alone in your concern about their behavior, and as a group to call them to repentance.
Once again we need to remember, to keep the situation contained in the small group, deal with a specific, changeable behavior, and that the goal is restoration.
3. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church.
Relationships are connected to community; toxic behaviors affect the community. This passage assumes that the person that you are having difficulty with is in the same faith community with you.
Often times when people are behaving badly, they know it, and they want to keep it hush-hush. They’ve convinced themselves that they can continue to behave badly, but they know that they can’t convince the whole community.