Anatomy of Forgiveness—Part #2—Safe Boundaries In Toxic Relationships 11-16-08

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Anatomy of Forgiveness—Part #2

Healthy Boundaries In Tough or Toxic Relationships


Review Last Week

·                    This week going to talk an area I find myself ministering to people on all the time in forgiveness


In Pastoring—many times working with people

·                    Navigating the road of forgiveness

·                    Not always easy

Forgiveness can be a confusing thing for believers

·                    Many Christians think forgiveness EQUALS restoration

·                    Rightly so

·                    Describe what happens between us and God

And many, MANY times this will play out in other relationships

·                    In fact, in safe, loving, healthy relationships

·                    Forgiveness is INTENDED to reunite us

·                    Strengthen bonds of friendship

·                    Open doors for close relationship

In fact, many times God will take a broken place

·                    And through forgiveness make a relationship closer than its ever been

But what about forgiving TOUGH people?

·                    People who don’t want forgiveness

·                    Never acknowledge their faults

·                    Don’t change

How about people

·                    Who are beyond difficult

·                    Cruel

·                    Toxic

Want to talk about Anatomy of Forgiveness—Part #2

Healthy Boundaries In Tough or Toxic Relationships

Ps 16

As we work through the anatomy of forgiveness

·                    Want to take some time to look at how forgiveness works with tough situations

·                    You see—God’s heart is that forgiveness would be a path to relationship

After all:

·                    Beautiful thing when forgiveness moves into RESTORATION

·                    Wronged—repent/forgiveness—restoration

·                    Hard when—example


What Forgiveness IS

·                    Last week’s definition

Forgiveness Defined

·                    Hebrew word:  ‘absolve’, ‘release fully’—more of the time translated ‘forgive’.

·                    More often it is translated ‘bear up’ and ‘lift up’

So what does forgiveness do?

·        Lifts our Sins off of our lives

·        Develop

·        Sin—Burden—last week

·                    PARDON

·                    Choice/Act of will

Forgiveness IS

·                    Choice

·                    Decision

·                    Releasing from Judgment

·                    Sometimes a Process

Forgiveness can take time—layers

·                    Dean Smith

o       Loved his honesty of process

What Forgiveness Is NOT

What forgiveness isn’t

·                    A FEELING—it isn’t a decision you make when you FEEL like it (that can happen)—but forgiveness is a CHOICE

·                    Isn’t saying that what happened was RIGHT  (SB)

·                    Trust

o       When forgiveness happens

o       Foundation for trust to be built

o       In HEALTHY Relationships—trust should be RESTORED  immediately—in most situations

o       In tough situations—takes time—but it can happen

·                    Intimacy—though if intimacy is going to happen—forgiveness has to be a part of navigating life

·                    For those that are working through an extremely abusive situations—it isn’t a license that the other person will have access to your life—SPHERES OF CLOSENESS

o       rape

o       God CAN do that when hearts are willing to take the journey

o       Certain situations—Dean Smith

o       Apostle Paul

§        Early life—persecuted—not trusted

§        Too time

§        You put my dad in prison . . . . !

In forgiveness situation always at least two different parties


Each side has Personal Responsibility: 

·                    Define

·                    Too many times think we’re responsible for how they respond

·                    This is very common in areas of FORGIVENESS

Responsible to obey

·                    To forgive—instructed to do so by Jesus

Problem:  too many people—especially Christians

·                    Take on something God HIMSELF doesn’t take on!

·                    Free will—God respects

·                    Gives opportunity for relationships

·                    We don’t—think we are responsible for others decisions—messes us up!

Look how this plays out in healthy forgiveness

·                    BOTH sides make choices

·                    Repent—forgive


·                    Define Ideal Model of Forgiveness:

o       Repent/forgive/restore

o       That’s the ideal way it happens

o       But sometimes people don’t respond in the IDEAL way

In fact, in our TOUGH Relationships 

·                    You can repent—and they won’t forgive   (SHORT STORY)

o       If they don’t forgive—then leave it at their feet

o       Sometimes, then we have to walk out the ‘fruit’ of repentance’ in your life and whatever further relationship you have with the other person

o       There MIGHT be restoration of relationship in the future

o       But there might not be

o       HOWEVER, because you were OBEDIENT and walking in righteous fruit—you can walk with a FREEDOM over this issue

o       In reality, you may be reaping the fruit of your action—but God can give you grace to OUTLAST that harvest—and sow for a NEW one.

§        Counseling Big ‘CROP of STUPID’

o       But if you honor God—honor the other person—God will honor you

Gal 6:9 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. [1]

Some of you have someone in your life

·                    Walk close with God on this

·                    “Holy Spirit, is there anything more that I need to do?”

·                    He’ll show you

·                    As long as you are HUMBLE—teachable

·                    Willing to walk whatever steps necessary

·                    If they aren’t willing to forgive—God will release you


·                    Run into someone who is already in TOXIC UNFORGIVENESS

·                    Doesn’t matter what you do—it isn’t about you

·                    You obey—do your par—step back—let God work it out

Unfortunate I’ve seen when people harden hearts in offense

·                    God blesses you—works in their hearts

·                    Released

·                    You can release forgiveness—but they don’t repent or own their part


·                    How many seen this?

·                    So many times—dysfunctional parents/relative

o       Blind spot

o       Clueless to what they are doing

Interesting problem:

·                    When we don’t understand personal responsibility (Parents/sons/daughters)

·                    We think our freedom based on THEIR response

·                    We want them to take personal responsibility

o       Make it right—but what happens

o       We tie our FREEDOM to THEIR Response!!  (IDOLATRY!)

·                    Works trap—I have to make them perform

o       Robs us

o       Twists self in pretzel

·                    Son/Daughter bitterness/violation

o       Parent doesn’t own—acknowledge—repent

o       Still operates in behavior

o       Wound

·                    Tried to tell them, ‘you are hurting me’

·                    Come to place of forgiving

·                    Behavior continues

·                    Lord releases a boundary

‘They don’t get it’ relationships

·                    Father forgive them they know not what they do

·                    That’s when I go back to PSALM 16

·                    Stormie Omartian dealing with mom’s mental illness

·                    Had forgiven

·                    But kept safe distance


So (restate) When you release forgiveness—but they don’t repent or own their part

o       The result is—the relationship stays broken—or at the very least—there is a DISTANCE in the relationship

o       But you are FREE

§        EVEN IF they don’t OWN IT!!

o       “I forgive, not because what happened was right—but because it sets me free”

CHURCH Situations—leader



·                    When there isn’t repentance

·                    Can’t be restoration of relationship

·                    It’s how it works between man and God

o       Forgiveness available

o       But we need to ACCESS it through REPENTANCE


RESTATE two areas that can put distance in our relationships between each other: 

·                    You can repent—they don’t forgive

·                    You can forgive—they don’t repent


·                    You can release forgiveness—they can repent— but because of the nature of the issue, you maintain strong boundaries of distance in the relationship might stay in place

o       Example: child molester

o       You may forgive—they may apologize

o       But forgiveness does NOT mean TRUST

o       It does not mean vulnerability

o       It does not mean friendship or intimate connection.

o       You CAN walk free from the sin—forgiveness may be in place—released on both sides

o       But the FRUIT of what happened—changes the relationship

o       Because they reap what they sowed

That is an EXTREME expression of that—I’ve seen thing in LESSER ways: 

·                    For example, unhealthy friendships

·                    Crossed some lines that weren’t good

·                    Repentance—forgiveness

·                    But healthy distance

Chronic dysfunctional person—alcoholism—etc.

·                    Repent/forgiveness—In order for TRUST—it takes TIME!

We’ve seen the different ways we can interact/respond in forgiveness

·                    Let’s talk a little more about really tough situations

·                    Where the other person won’t own it

·                    Where it’s difficult

·                    Maybe you are in a relationship where you are suffering

·                    And in extreme situations—where it is toxic

And I know the layers to the different situations

Suffering—you aren’t removed from it

·                    Nor has God called you to be

·                    Living on broken glass

·                    People God put in your life

·                    God, what are YOUR boundaries for this relationship??

o       And where are my safe zones???

o       EGYPT/Pharaoh!


·                    Need to define what this is—what it isn’t

·                    Develop

But didn’t Jesus say—love enemies—turn the other cheek—etc.

·                    We will be called to do that in situations

·                    Just because Jesus came—didn’t mean the Romans weren’t continuing to murder/persecute/exploit

·                    They lived with it constantly

Safe Boundaries

·                    Not unforgiveness

·                    Vows

·                    Humility

·                    Safety

·                    Letting Him set boundaries

·                    Others with us helping

How To Keep Toxins Out of You

Toxic people/situations can be very contagious

·                    Easy to pick up spirit

Flee Unforgiveness

·                    Unforgiveness enemy

·                    Blocks Mercy of God—Matthew 6

·                    Activate WILL – ALIGN it with God’s

·                    Understand forgiveness doesn’t mean NO BOUNDARIES

o       Some try to use unforgiveness for a BOUNDARY—but scheme—door of the enemy

·                    There’s safety when we forgive—do it His way

Love Enemies—Bless

·                    Matthew 5—opposite spirit

–42     “Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

     43–47     “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

     48     “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”


Teaching about Revenge

38 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’* 39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. 40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile,* carry it two miles. 42 Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.

Teaching about Love for Enemies

43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’* and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies!* Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends,* how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.


When dealing with TOXIC Person:  Don’t Take False Responsibility

·                    As Much as it is POSSIBLE

·                    Romans 12:18

18 If it is possible, as far as it depends   you, live at peace with everyone. [4]

·                    You are not responsible for their choices—develop

·                    Rest in Holy Spirit to work it out

Let Him Show Pleasant Boundaries—Keep Boundaries


Some will say that because of turn the other cheek—we don’t take protective boundaries

·                    Ps 16—

·                    Boundary lines also walls of protection


·                    Luke 22:34—Jesus had his disciples take a protective posture

36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37[5]

·                     2 Tim 4:14 Paul warned followers to be careful—avoid dangerous man:   14 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. 15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message. [6]

·                    Pearls before Swine

Matt 7 6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.

When we find boundaries—

·                    Acknowledge/embrace reality

·                    Sometimes it’s as easy as—in holiday—creatively—develop

·                    Breaks dynamic

Some of you

·                    Put up with a toxic thing  that God hasn’t called you to

·                    Counsel families dealing with dysfunction

·                    Don’t let sin set the agenda

·                    It’s not my fault you’re dysfunctional—unhealthy—I’m not responsible . . .. develop

·                    Is this a forgiveness point???????????????

DISCLAIMER—boundaries ever license unforgiveness/pride—stubborness


Guard Your Focus

·                    Phil 4:8

·                    Okay to say ‘unhealthy

·                    Fix thoughts right direction

Know Timing

·                    Don’t steal from God

·                    Vengeance is mine

·                    L/S

There’s a timing when you’ve completed what He’s wanted

·                    Walk away

·                    I’ve seen it—release me from toxic situation

·                    Grace lifts

But (see above disclaimer scriptures)

Why talking about toughest situations

·                    Because important to see boundaries

·                    Some people don’t understand—enemy has strategy/access point

Remember, GOD still does MIRACLES

·                    Don’t give IN to unbelief—fear

·                    Put in God’s hands—let Him work

·                    Relational miracles—Dean—others

·                    Apostle Paul



But there are places where I think there is confusion in forgiveness

·                    One confusion—Forgiveness is a feeling

·                    It isn’t

·                    It’s a choice

·                    Develop

And on another place

·                    What do we do when the other person

·                    The other situation isn’t WANTING a restoration of relationship

·                    They aren’t wanting to admit/own what’s happened

·                    And even worse yet

·                    What if the person or situation is toxic

o       Not safe

o       What is a Christian supposed to do THEN

Define Toxic

Toxic Disclaimer

·                    Not a label that excuses you to quit

·                    Suffering disclaimer

·                    Perseverance/trials disclaimer

·                    Spheres of intimacy—define that

o       Jesus modeled that

Many believers not aware they are suppose to have safe/healthy boundaries

·                    Ps 16

·                    They think that forgiveness—turn the other cheek—means that we are to only be a doormat

·                    Need to interpret through the grid of all scripture

o       NT:  gather sword

o       Don’t cast pearls before swine

o       Beware of dogs

o       Paul’s admonition to stay away from dangerous people


·                    Rape/incest

·                    Safe boundary lines

What forgiveness IS

·                    Choice

·                    Released from judgment

·                    Not doing because what you did was right—but because it sets me free

·                    Forgiveness towards someone or something that hurt you—starts with choice

What forgiveness isn’t

·                    Intimacy

·                    Restored relationship

o       Ken Lawson example

o       Kingdom example—salvation—forgiveness is extended—we have a choice

o       Without repentance—no forgiveness

·                    License to your inner circle

Too Permeable/not permeable enough??????

Giving Forgiveness is just a theory until someone violates you

Receiving forgiveness is a theory until we’ve blown it and we catch a glimpse of our sinful heart

·                    And we see how desperately need forgiveness

And when we ARE forgiven

·                    No one can take away that treasure

·                    Forgiven much—loves much

Forgiveness Journey

·                    Define power of One

o       Taking Personal Responsibility

o       Not giving your authority away to others

o       Not taking ON things that don’t belong to you

o       Being too Permeable—not Permeable enough

o       Coming into balance

·                    Forgiveness steps/boundaries

o       Healthy forgiveness

·                    Testimony of releasing the one that has kept us bound

o       Testimony from that guy from Enumclaw

·                    Do something with Pardon Test—Release/Receive/Believe Forgiveness strategy

In order for relationship to be RESTORED

·                    Repentance/forgiveness needs to be mutual


Toxic Relationships/environments

·                    Part of the human condition

·                    With sin

·                    We will all have some that we live around/with

·                    Vital to understand balance—develop

Unhealthy and/or Toxic relationships

Christian/Religious relationships

·                    Truth without grace—not safe

o       Religious Spirit

o       Legalism

o       Fear-based

o       No one measures up

o       ‘Beware of dogs’

·                    Grace without Truth—just as toxic—seductive

o       Not operating in fear of the Lord

o       Calling sin not sin—dangerous—abomination (scripture)

o       Practical expressions in our culture ‘it’s okay’.

·                    Jesus full of GRACE—and truth

o       When grace and truth are full

o       They balance each other

o       Wisdom/harmony

People bound in anger/bitterness/control

·                    Bring poison to others around them

Addictions/severe dysfunction

·                    We will be around people like this—live in fallen world

·                    Toxicity Comes in places of addiction/dysfunction

o       Wants to suck you into drama

o       Obligate you

o       Develop

People who are full of judgment/unbelief towards the things of God

·                    Antichrist spirit

·                    There are those who operate in the antichrist thing

·                    There are ‘spheres of intimacy’

o       Many believers don’t understand this

o       They read turn the other cheek, bless your enemy—which you are suppose to do

o       But don’t understand ‘beware of dogs’/ ‘Don’t cast your pearls before swine’

o       Develop what those scriptures mean

People who abuse, take advantage of, cruel

·                    Pharaoh

·                    Romans

·                    Sad reality—some times you don’t have the option of leaving the situation right away

·                    Suffering—disclaimer—talk about current laws/protection/not saying stay in severe abuse—grateful for current laws for such things

·                    However—places where in some situations—hasn’t crossed the line—. . . . develop

·                    Paul’s warning about certain people—SCRIPTURE examples

So how does FORGIVENESS play in to how we navigate toxic people and situations?

·                    We will have toxic situations (beware of dogs)

·                    We can forgive—and still maintain safe boundary lines

o       Ps 16

o       Spheres of intimacy

o       Biblical examples

·                    We don’t want to be poisoned by the toxic situations

o       By becoming subject/vulnerable to them—opening our spirit—develop

o       NOR by picking up bitterness/unforgiveness/etc.

·                    Be wise as serpents—harmless as doves

o       God has a wisdom for YOU in the place YOU face in walking with toxic situations

o       Or toxic relationships

Reference Christian misunderstanding of forgiveness (thinking it equals intimacy)

·                    Reference obvious examples—like in an incest thing

·                    Safe boundaries

But we don’t want to be POISONED by these situations

·                    Allowing them greater access in our lives than God wants

·                    NOR becoming poisoned by picking up bitterness/unforgiveness


·                    God WILL call you to work through tough relationships

·                    This whole thing about toxic relationships—isn’t a license to avoid tough situations

o       Great—I don’t have to work through that relationship with that annoying person

o       God MIGHT give you greater boundary

o       Many times—God DOES require you to stay in relationship

o       Work things through

o       Sand paper seasons

Not all toxic relationships

·                    Do you get to completely detach from

·                    Gotta work through

In extreme situations

·                    God will allow boundaries of distance

·                    But never with a license of unforgiveness/bitterness

·                    Stormie Omartian—mentally ill mom—later in her life

Giving relationships—and Holy Spirit—time to work things out

HOWEVER—understanding the DEFINITION of what a toxic relationship is

·                    Allows us to start saying—Okay, God—what is the boundary HERE

·                    Where is the safe place for me

For some of you

·                    Lived in condemnation in relationship that was toxic

·                    God wants to set you free

·                    TT—growing up—dysfunction—toxic—didn’t get it

·                    Thought it was me

·                    Didn’t realize how toxic he was

·                    Measure of healing—just recognizing the label

·                    Was able to distance ourselves from that—come into measure of healing

·                    Opened doors so I could forgive/recognize

·                    Allows me to be free



·                    It is the flesh that offends and keeps people from being unified..  
> People left Jesus because they were offended with His flesh....He  
> didnt look like the prophet king they expected....Scientific  
> American had an article on what Jesus probably looked like derived  
> from archeology of the time...and drew a picture...Men of that time  
> were short and stocky, about 5 foot 3,  laborers wore their fuzzy  
> hair short, (only Nazerites had long hair)  the Jews were hersuit  
> (hairy) and Isaiah says Jesus looks were ordinary, probably homely,  
> no man would desire him.  He was no Jim Cavezel.  He was a short,  
> wide, hairy, homely guy.  Only genuine lovers of God would see what  
> was underneath.
> So Paul says, know no man after the flesh....The works of the  
> (Christian) flesh repel us...jealousy, fear, insecurity, control,  
> manipulation, criticism, pride, unforgiveness, and on and on, and  
> can keep us from walking in unity of the spirit.
> But it is the Spirit of God that attracts us, the Holy Spirit is so  
> attractive, so generous, loving, forgiving, accepting....God is  
> challenging me to look for the Holy Spirit in team members and not  
> be distracted by the flesh
> We can provoke each other to Love....WE CAN ACTUALLY COAX the Holy  
> Spirit out of people...Encouragement causes a person to reject the  
> fleshs responses, and LET the Holy Spirit bear fruit.
> The earthen vessel can try to hold back the spirit, but the Spirit  
> Wants to burst forth...

What does that MEAN?

·                    What doesn’t that mean?

o       Restoration Myth

o       Doormat Myth

o       Intimacy Myth—Too permeable (book)


[1]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Ga 6:9). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[2]Peterson, E. H. (2002). The Message : The Bible in contemporary language (Mt 5:38-48). Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress.

* Greek the law that says: ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ Exod 21:24; Lev 24:20; Deut 19:21.

* Greek milion [4,854 feet or 1,478 meters].

* Lev 19:18.

* Some manuscripts add Bless those who curse you. Do good to those who hate you. Compare Luke 6:27-28.

* Greek your brothers.

[3]Tyndale House Publishers. (2004). Holy Bible : New Living Translation. "Text edition"--Spine. (2nd ed.) (Mt 5:38-48). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers.

[4]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Ro 12:18). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[5]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Lk 22:36-37). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[6]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (2 Ti 4:14-15). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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