This past Sunday I delivered a message on forgiveness. Afterward I was asked a question by a number of people that was basically, “But at what point do you quit being a doormat for people who continually hurt you?” Good question.
I believe there comes a time when, because of a person’s conduct, it is best to no longer subject yourself to their abuse. In support of this, I have a few things for consideration. These are offered as starter thoughts to help discern when enough is enough.
Forgiveness is not at issue. It is assumed that forgiveness has either taken place OR that it is being worked out. Deciding when “enough is enough” and to no longer subject yourself to hurt and abuse doesn’t negate that forgiveness has taken place.
Yet when a person continually, over and over, inflicts hurt or abuse… I believe the time comes when you may say, “That’s it. I’ve had enough. I’m not going to allow you to continue to hurt me anymore. So I am withdrawing from interaction with you from this point forward unless… (See below).”
Note: When it comes to physical abuse by a spouse, I believe the right path to take is to physically separate from the person and have the law take care of the situation. Emotional abuse follows close behind, but that is another post. But please continue reading…
Seek God’s wisdom. Ja 1:5, “If any man (woman) seeks wisdom (understanding) let him ask of God who gives to all men liberally & it will be given to him.” The first thing to do in figuring out when enough is enough is to seek God. Ask for His guidance… ask Him to guide you by His Spirit… stay in the Scriptures, for there you will find His wisdom (Psalms & Proverbs is a good place to spend your time reading at this point.).
Obtain wise counsel. Pr 11:14 & 24:6, “In an abundance of counselors there is wisdom.” Get other people’s opinion, but be careful who you ask. You MUST choose a person who is a Christian… who is more spiritually mature than you are… whose own life is stable… who is considered wise by others… and will speak to you in loving honesty.
Be careful of your motives. Ro 12:17 & 19, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'” If God leads you to separate from the other person, make sure there is not in you a secret desire to punish them by withdrawing from them.
Seek peace always. Ro 12:18, “If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Sometimes it is impossible for reconciliation to occur. There are people with whom a healthy relationship can’t take place. But be careful that you are not in reality using separating yourself from the other person as a way to punish or exact revenge. Don’t miss the “as much as it depends on you” phrase!
Be honest with the other person. Eph 4:15, “Speak the truth in love.” If God leads you to separate from the other person, tell them why.
In all your actions, keep your conduct pure. Phil 1:27, “Whatever happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the Gospel.”
Always be open to restoration & reconciliation. At this point the best example is the Prodigal Son’s father. Then Gal 6:1, “If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Your goal must ultimately be restoration under God’s leadership.
I admit these suggestions do not, and cannot, take into consideration every possible situation. But I do believe working through these can help make a difficult decision that will glorify God.