Several years ago, I realized that a close friendship I had formed with another woman, proclaiming to be a Christian, had become toxic and abusive. I had grown to love her. However, her constant hurtful and mean attitudes, words, and actions confirmed that her definition and expression of love had grown toxic and abusive.
Determine the Healthy of Your Relationship by Knowing the Definition of Abuse and Christ’s Love
Domestic violence or abuse is the willful intimidation, coercion, manipulation, battery, physical or sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior used in a systematic pattern of power and control over a partner in an intimate relationship. (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
Abusive, toxic relationships are unhealthy, disrespectful, and dishonoring. They are verbally, mentally, psychologically, and/or spiritually abusive. Abusive people are narcissists. They use any means to control a person at any cost to achieve their desires or plans. There is no honest compassion, empathy, compromise, or partnership in a toxic, abusive relationship. The relationship has good moments to achieve their motives, followed by blame, shame, guilt, and tantrums.
Christ’s pure love is seen in his characteristics of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control, respect, freedom, responsibility, and healthy boundaries. All of these aspects of Christ’s loving character are under the two greatest commandments; to love the Lord God with all that we are and to love others as we love ourselves, the way Jesus loves us.
Evaluating Our Relationships is Healthy and Crucial
Every person and Christian changes with time. Are we becoming more Christ-like or more devil-like? You can’t grow in Christ while you keep living in your self-focused and self-absorbed sinful flesh desires. These desires include trying to control others for your motives, gain, and desires, no matter how you treat others. Jesus is clear that we are to “do to others what we would have them do to us.” (Luke 6:31, NIV)
If we proclaim to be Christ’s disciple, we will follow his words of instruction. We are not to judge a person’s salvation, as only God knows all. However, Jesus gives us an example in the scriptures about evaluating a person’s character and heart by the fruit they bear.
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. . . . For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” (Matt. 12:33, 35, NIV)
Some proclaiming “Christians” don’t realize they are instructed and responsible for learning to love others like Jesus. They don’t know where to begin because of their broken love design formed from their life experiences. Some proclaiming “Christians” believe they can treat people they don’t like or value or people they want to control with devilish attitudes, words, and actions. Any person proclaiming to be a Christian or Christ-follower must commit to following Jesus in every way. There is no middle ground.
How to Keep Your Relationships Following Christ’s Love Design
When we realize our “Christian” relationship is not loving according to Christ’s standards, we must confront the person in love. If they respond with anger, blame, shame, or guilt, they do not follow Christ’s love design. Their unloving response requires us to approach them with a friend and try again. If they are repentant and ask for forgiveness, grant it with a new boundary to give them time to prove their change of heart. If they still reject Christ’s instruction, draw firmer boundaries, or end the relationship to remain healthy.
You can’t live a healthy life if you allow others to poison you. When your relationship becomes the opposite of the example of Christ’s love and God’s word, it is unhealthy, toxic, or abusive. As disciples of Christ, we are instructed. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Prov. 4:23).
Each person must choose the love design they will follow and how they will love other people. As we grow in Christ, he will reveal any unhealthiness or toxic relationship in our life. The Holy Spirit helps us discern an unhealthy or abusive person more quickly to avoid getting hurt.
Learn to live like Jesus Christ by learning about his love design from my blog or by ordering Quest for Exceptional Love book and or workbook now!