Your inner circle are those who you are in close relationship with, those who you spend time with, those who you are personally connected to. Ideally, these are all good relationships. Of course we need breaks from each other even in good relationships.
Proverbs 25:17, “Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor's house, lest he have his fill of you and hate you.”
There are times we need a more lasting break with a person in a bad, toxic relationship.There are times when the other person is in a dangerous pattern of behavior from one of the following categories.
How do you know the difference?
How do you tell whether you need shorter breaks, or longer, even possibly permanent breaks in a relationship?
I can’t tell you exactly, but I’d like to share a bit of what I’ve learned in this series.
II Timothy 3:1-5
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God — having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”
Have NOTHING to do with people who are:
- Lovers of themselves (self-centered, selfish)
- Lovers of money
- Boastful (seeks honor not rightfully theirs)
- Proud (look down on others with contempt)
- *Blasphemous (insolence toward God) (one version)
- *Abusive (another version)
- Disobedient to their parents
- Without love
- Without self-control
- Not lovers of the good
- Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-having a form of godliness but denying its power
Wow! There’s 19 categories listed here. Let’s talk about just some of them today.
Let’s also note that this is not about forgiveness or judging a person’s status with God, but about our choice to be in relationship. These are different things.
Also, I think we can look at this list and make note of red flags, paying attention as to whether a red flag occurrence is a continuing pattern or overall characteristic of that person and how they are in general. We may need more intel to know if it’s just an instance in a person of otherwise good overall character.
Beginning with this last category let’s look at some of these off-limits people. So we want to have nothing to do with those who are “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power.” Who are these people?
The phrase, “having a form of godliness,” seems to speak of people who hold themselves out as Christian believers but who aren’t really living by faith. They deny the power of God. Listen to how they talk or even pray. Do they exhibit real faith in God’s power? Or is it just for show?
So this group of people being called out here are not just folks wanting to enjoy themselves as “lovers of pleasure” but their love for pleasure supersedes whatever superficial form of godliness they may have. Their idolatry of pleasure breaks the first of the ten commandments:
Exodus 20:3 - “You shall have no other gods before me.”
They deny the power of living a godly life, and thus the power of God in their lives, by living strictly for their own pleasure rather than to please God.
God however, actually provides for our enjoyment as stated back in I Timothy.
I Timothy 6:17 - “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”
How about people who are conceited, rash, or treacherous? Here are some verses to expand on these categories of people:
Galatians 5:26 - “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
Romans 12:16 - “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”
Proverbs 13:3 - “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.”
Proverbs 20:25 - “It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider one’s vows.”
Acts 19:36 - “Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to calm down and not do anything rash”
Psalm 25:3 - “No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.”
Isaiah 24:16 - “From the ends of the earth we hear singing: ‘Glory to the Righteous One.’ But I said, ‘I waste away, I waste away! Woe to me! The treacherous betray!
With treachery the treacherous betray!’”?
Isaiah 48:8 - “You have neither heard nor understood; from of old your ears have not been open. Well do I know how treacherous you are; you were called a rebel from birth.”
Zephaniah 3:4 - “Her prophets are unprincipled; they are treacherous people. Her priests profane the sanctuary and do violence to the law.”
Acts 7:19 - “He dealt treacherously with our people and oppressed our ancestors
by forcing them to throw out their newborn babies so that they would die.”
I want to take a moment and mention something here. It can take God-given discernment to recognize whether someone belongs in these categories or not. We all do have our moments in which we fail to live up to our best self. We can and often do recover from them with God’s help.
Other times there’s long-standing patterns. We can’t really know another person’s heart but we can notice their patterns of behaviors and speech…and the effects. We can take note of red flags.
Red flags may not be enough to end a relationship and certainly WE don’t want to be unforgiving. But red flags that someone might be in one of these categories is a “heads up” to the need to be prayerful and watchful for a continued pattern of this type that defines how this person lives. And consider keeping things at arm’s length until you have enough intel to make a decision about having any close relationship with this person.
For the entire list of these categories or traits, plus an additional list of traits that make for GOOD friends and relationships, that you can download and print click the button below.
It helped me to go through these categories and dig into the different ones a little bit.
Was this helpful to you? Comment and let me know what jumped out to you.
IMPORTANT: If you are in a dangerous situation it’s important to get to safety as rapidly as possible.
Click to get help at TheHotline.org.