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Walk Away As Jesus Did
February 10, 2020 Random Thoughts

Evil doesn’t always come sporting a goatee & carrying a pitchfork. It doesn’t always present itself with malice. It can use words of love, faith, proper authority, and even scripture. But evil always destroys. Sometimes quickly sometimes slowly, but eventually it takes its toll. Gary Thomas shared those words in his new book When To Walk Away; Finding Freedom From Toxic People. Watch the trailer below and we’ll talk after…

I’m very pleased that a well-respected man of the Christian faith wrote a book with such a bold title; When To Walk Away. There comes a time in all of our lives when we need to walk away, however, walking away is not taught in Christian circles. In my experience, Christians are notorious for telling you to stay. You’re a “good Christian if you stay in a toxic relationship and try to work it out and a “bad” Christian or not a Christian at all when you leave. Unfortunately, your Christian faith can be used against you and the Bible can be used to manipulate and control. You hear things like:

  • God’s grace is sufficient for you. He wants to work something in you through this situation.
  • You’re going to face opposition. Don’t let it sway you.
  • All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. None of us is perfect.
  • God forgave you. You must forgive.

In When To Walk Away, Gary asks, “Have you ever counted how many times Jesus walked away from toxic people or let toxic people walk away from him?” Jesus walked away from others (or let others walk away from him) more than two dozen times in the four gospels. He let himself be tortured and crucified once but there were many occasions before that when he “slipped away” from those who wanted to hurt him:

“At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.” John 8:59

“Again, they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp. Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. John 10:39-40

“But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place.” Matthew 12:14-15

He also taught his disciples to do likewise:

“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” Matthew 10:14

“When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.” Matthew 10:23

Being a “good Christian” doesn’t mean staying in toxic environments. It doesn’t mean chasing and trying to fix every relationship that walks away from you. Here’s more from Gary about how toxic people operate:

Nothing matters more to a true Christian than pleasing God, because the Holy Spirit within us inclines our hearts to value God’s opinion more than anyone else’s. We don’t obey God primarily out of fear of his wrath or the desire to avoid hell; we love him and want to please him because he is the delight of our souls.

Toxic people diabolically perceive this and often use it as a weapon to wound the faithful. Because they know how much healthy Christians want to please God, in order to get their way, they try to twist our affection to manipulate us. One of their most common critiques which itself is toxic and evil is to question our faith: “Aren’t Christians supposed to forgive? How come you’re not acting like a Christian?”

They really don’t care if we’re acting like a Christian though. They just want us to do what they want us to do and they’re using our faith as a weapon to manipulate and control. I’ve seen this time and time again. It’s a favorite ploy for many toxic people, so let’s get this out in the open.

Toxic people are masters at lecturing Christians over how they are “supposed” to behave. Even though they may have never acted like a Christian themselves, they love to hold Christians to the way they assume Christians are supposed to act. Their entire “Bible” has fifteen words: “Forgive as God has forgiven you, and judge not or you too will be judged.” Don’t fall for the bait when someone says you’re not “acting like a Christian.” Seek counsel from someone who is actually following Christ.

Toxic people will try to make the problem about how you’re reacting to their toxicity rather than their toxicity itself. Don’t take the bait.

In a recent message titled Defeating Giants, my pastor quoted Matthew 10:36 then said, “I want to say to someone today…your family….you gotta shake it off. I mean respect them but don’t always listen to your family. Families can be wack am I correct? They can go totally off and take you away from what God’s purpose is for your life.” And that’s why we walk away. Because God has a purpose for our lives. A mission for us to complete. A call for us to answer. How can we answer the call if we’re stuck in toxicity?

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Something to think about…

What say you? What are your thoughts on walking away? Have you ever had to walk away?

Here are 2 things I’d like you to do now:

1. Leave a comment below

2. Share this post if you like it

"23" Comments
  1. You are clearly struggling. I hope you find what you are searching for and are able to discern toxicity in yourself vs. your family.
    Don’t make this the primary message over anything else the Bible says and even if this is the case right now may you and your family remain open to change.
    Remember this is one man’s opinion/insight that stemmed from pervasive internet trolls to his messages.
    God is still in the business of changing hearts – yours and theirs.

  2. @Sharon,

    Actually, not struggling or searching. I don’t know why Gary wrote the book, however, I’m beyond grateful he did because it’s desperately needed in Christian circles.

    If he wrote it because of internet trolls as you say, I’m glad God used a negative circumstance and turned it into a positive resource that will set a lot of people free.

    What I love about the book most is that it’s well written and loaded with scripture. I’m beyond grateful it found it’s way to me at this season of my life.
    #nostruggle
    #notsearching
    #gratefulheart
    #clearmind
    #walkinginpurpose
    Yvonne Chase recently posted…Walk Away As Jesus DidMy Profile

  3. Fabulous, Yvonne. Such wise counsel, especially for those of us who feel like we can save the world.

    Sometimes we need to get out of the way so God can do His work in the lives of broken, toxic people. And in doing so, we protect our own souls in the process …
    Linda Stoll recently posted…In Which I Talk About Our MarriageMy Profile

  4. @Linda,

    I was on an airplane recently when the stewardess gave instructions for the oxygen mask. She specifically said, put your mask on first. We’ve all heard those instructions before, however, when I heard her say it this time, it hit me right between the eyes.

    When I put my oxygen mask on first, I make sure I’m safe and protected before I even think about anyone else. Saving the world is a job for God and God alone. I’m stepping out of his way completely to let him do what only he can do.
    Yvonne Chase recently posted…Walk Away As Jesus DidMy Profile

  5. Thanks for the book suggestion, Yvonne. I had not heard of this book.

    Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

  6. Love this, Yvonne. Yes, I have had to walk away from a toxic friendship. It wasn’t easy, you are right. I had been taught about forgiveness and love. Your post reminded me of this quote from Anne Lamott; “Loving your enemies was nonnegotiable. It meant trying to respect them, it meant identifying with their humanity and weaknesses. It didn’t mean unconditional acceptance of their crazy behavior.”
    Laurie recently posted…Learning Compassion and Imagination From Space AliensMy Profile

  7. @Laurie,

    Thanks for sharing the quote by Anne Lamott. I never heard it yet it connects so well with this post and the message Gary presents. I’m so glad he wrote this book. Seems like a lot of Christians are offended by it yet it’s exactly what we need.
    Yvonne Chase recently posted…Walk Away As Jesus DidMy Profile

  8. Yvonne,
    Excellent post! I wish I could have read your post 30 years ago and had the courage to walk away from a verbal and emotional abuser. Toxic is not a strong enough word. Instead, I tried to be “a good Christian” and stick it out. The damage it did to me was/is tremendous. Sometimes other “Christians” do us a disservice by encouraging us to turn the other cheek. We don’t need to turn it so someone can punch it. Great wisdom here. Thanks.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx
    Bev @ Walking Well With God recently posted…Why Are We All So Easily Offended?My Profile

    • @Bev,

      When I read your comment while standing at the bus stop, I let out a shout so loud that everyone turned their head.

      THIS is a whole sermon; “Sometimes other Christians do us a disservice by encouraging us to turn the other cheek. We don’t need to turn it so someone can punch it!” Please say that louder for the people in the back!

      Oh, how I wish I could see Gary and thank him personally for writing this book.

      I’m sorry for the years of abuse you experienced, however, I’m sure you’re a better woman today because of it. Keep pressing on. Blessings to you. xoxo
      Yvonne Chase recently posted…Walk Away As Jesus DidMy Profile

  9. Good stuff, Yvonne! There’s a certain arrogance to the idea that we have to speak into every single situation we encounter. Sometimes the best contribution we can make is our absence.
    Michele Morin recently posted…Enneagram Three: You Are More than What You Can DoMy Profile

  10. Very well written! Thank you for sharing this important message. I, too have walked away from toxic relationships in my life (friends, family members, boyfriends) and I am better for it. There are relationships worth fighting for, and there are relationships that can destroy the individual. Knowing which to walk away from takes tremendous strength and sense of self.

  11. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Yvonne. Every relationship is truly unique and I believe marriage matters and is worth putting in all the hard work—but of course, abuse is a whole other layer. Counseling is key and much wisdom is required… I’m so grateful God is a God of miracles and grace!

  12. Yes, I’ve had to walk away from a toxic relationship. It totally broke me to do it, but I really felt that God supported my decision. Out of that brokenness came the very best gifts in my life. I’m grateful that God gives us courage and wisdom to step away when it’s needed. Thanks for sharing this, Yvonne. We need to hear this message more often.

    • @Lisa

      That’s one of the reasons I shared it because we don’t hear it enough. I don’t know about you but I come from an environment that says staying makes you a good Christian and walking away means you don’t love and you haven’t forgiven. That’s fake news!
      Yvonne Chase recently posted…Walk Away As Jesus DidMy Profile

  13. Yvonne, you’re spot on. There is a time to try and work it out, and there is a time to walk away. Sometimes the trick is knowing which time you’re in. Sometimes the “godly” thing to do is walk away. I’ve made the mistake of trying to stay in a toxic relationship. Once I realized what I was doing, I stepped back. It was hard, because my people-pleasing self felt like I was doing the wrong thing. You know how it is, though. You can look back and, in time, you can see the wisdom of doing that.

    We need to keep boundaries in our hearts and lives for our own well-being. Great review of this book!
    Jeanne Takenaka recently posted…Love: Eleven Practices for Growing LoveMy Profile

  14. Very interesting post and book. When to fight or when to flee? If a person has no inclination or desire to change and that attitude inhibits me – I am thinking Flee. To flee does not change my love or forgiveness toward them.
    I was surprised at the amount of ‘flee’ scriptures that you mention.
    Our Julie has chosen this post to be FEATURED in our next Blogger’s Pit Stop. Many thanks.
    Kathleen

    • @Kathleen,

      Fight or flee. Thanks for making it simple. That’s really what it comes down to. And you’re right, if a person has no inclination or desire to change, I’m with you; it’s time to put on your Nike’s and flee! Great point; to flee does not change my love or forgiveness towards them.

      Thanks for the feature.
      Yvonne Chase recently posted…Walk Away As Jesus DidMy Profile

  15. This was a great post, as it made people ponder on such a delicate topic. I liked how you said as Christian’s, we are taught to stay. The word says teach me to profit & lead me in the way I should go. If your spirit says leave, I say leave. God of cause is about love and forgiveness. Just think about how he love and forgives us. Yet with that comes wisdom and discernment. As you pointed out, even the scriptures shows at times Jesus fled. Great post sis!

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