Sunday, January 20, 2013

Despiteful Users

"Let us therefore follow after the things....wherewith one may edify another."
Romans 14:19
The original Greek meaning of edify is this:

"the act of building;
spiritual advancement;
instruction that builds a person up to be the suitable dwelling place of God,
where the Lord is "at home";
the act of one who promotes another's growth in Christian wisdom,
piety, holiness, happiness;
what contributes to augment wisdom."

My friend, Kim, told me that she has decided to "shed".

I remember the moment she said it.

At first, I found it amusing and chuckled.
I had visions in my mind of a snake shedding its skin,
and that in no way epitomized my vibrant, sweet, caring friend!

She looked at me as serious as could be and said,
"No, I mean it, Cheryl.
I have been shedding."

"What do you mean?"
I was still amused.

"I am in the process of shedding people who bring me down.
Shedding people who are toxic to me.
Just letting them go."

"Wow", I replied.
"That is so smart, Kim."
I was no longer laughing.

The light bulb finally came on...
in my head...
concerning what my friend was telling me.

She said that she refuses to continue to keep toxic relationships in her life.

I admire her and
respect her courage.
She is not a mean person.
She has a kind heart.

It takes me a while sometimes...
to identify things.
To see people as they really are.
I wish I were more perceptive....
like Kim.
Quicker to analyze.
By the time I figure it out,
many times I end up on the worst end of a situation....
completely drained.
By the moment I realize something is very unhealthy for me,
I have usually mercilessly pushed myself past the point of good sense...
for the sake of a very disadvantageous-to-my-mental-and-spiritual-health,
impossible-to-make-a-difference-in situation.

Why do I do this?
Stranger yet, why do I allow it to happen more than once...
perpetrated by the same person??

Some people are just not good for me.
Some people are not good for you, either.
They vex the spirit each time we see them coming,
recognize their phone number on the Caller ID,
or see their email address pop up in our inbox.

To me, just thinking of certain people is vexing....
remembering all I have tried to do for them...
everything I've put into maintaining a relationship with them...
times I have opened my heart...and them....
only to be disappointed repeatedly time after time after time.
Only to be repaid by the sharp jab of an injection 
of their toxic, poisonous venom....
as soon as I turned around and wasn't looking...
or was out of earshot.

There are relationships that are absolutely not healthy to maintain.
There are people who are absolutely toxic to us.
They are takers...
They only want what they can get,
never ever giving anything back.
The only time you hear from them 
is when they want, or more often than not...need, something from you.
Something that they know only you can provide.
They are sneaky.
Full of guile and deceit.
Wrapping the poisonous venom of their underhanded ulterior motives
in the false pretense of being "friendly".
No one in the world needs that kind of "friend".
They remind me of a leech.
They literally and greedily draw the very life out of you,
walk away satisfied....for the moment,
leave you utterly and completely drained and depleted,
then come back for more as soon as they become bloodthirsty again.

You could allow them to drain every bit of life out of you,
and it would be completely for naught....
absolutely pointless.
It still wouldn't be enough for them
as they stood over your lifeless form
angrily kicking,
thirstily demanding more.
And you.
All you would have accomplished is to become
an unnecessary martyr.

God does not require this.

Many times, we are brought under bondage to these 
types of people, because we are Christians.
We long to be Christlike.
And we should.
Being like Him should be the loftiest of our dreams and aspirations.

Unfortunately, toxic people are quick to pick up on this.
They use it against us.
They think it gives them an advantage
and use it to justify their cruel abuse.
Sad to say, 
often times,
toxic people are professing Christians.
They may even go to worship services with us.
Be someone we have to "deal with" and interact with
on a regular basis.

As a Christian,
God requires us to be kind.
To forgive.
To maintain a humble, meek spirit.
To be polite in passing.
He also expects us to use the wisdom He has 
so graciously instilled in us.
To know and recognize when a relationship is not beneficial.
To let go of every weight that is pulling us down...
vexing our spirit...
draining our joy....
robbing our peace.

"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, 
 let us lay aside every weight, 
and the sin which doth so easily beset us
 and let us run with patience the race that is set before us..."
Hebrews 12:1
(emphasis mine)

I believe this type of situation falls under the
"despitefully used" category Jesus spoke of in Matthew 5:44.
The original Greek word for "despitefully" here is ἐπηρεάζω,
and it literally means:

"to intimidate by using threats and false accusations "tailor-made" to the situation, i.e. under-handed tactics;
treat wrongfully;
threatening, reviling abuse;
spiteful abuse;
to treat abusively"

Sound familiar to anyone?

So, what did Jesus say concerning this?
What are we required to do for someone who despitefully uses us?

"But I say unto you, 
Love your enemies,
bless them that curse you,
do good to them that hate you, 
and pray for them which despitefully use you..."

Pray for them.
He didn't ask us to perpetuate the abuse.
He didn't demand that we continue to answer their phone calls...
only to be further drained of all spiritual life.
He didn't require us to answer their conniving emails...
to continue to buy into their deceit
and feed the spirit of bondage under which they operate.
He told us to pray for them.
To pray for them.

Don't allow satan to bring you under bondage
to his demands.
You do not have to please satan.
You do not serve him.
He is not your master.
You serve the One Who spoke the words of eternal life.
The One Who gave this perfectly-fitting advice...
to pray for those who despitefully use you.

Praying for someone will keep bitterness toward them out of our hearts.
It is very difficult to hate someone we are praying for.
It actually changes our perspective and helps us to love them,
in spite of their presumptuousness.
But, thankfully, we are only required to love them...
from a distance.
God does not require that we become their bondservant,
nor that we cater to their whims and under-handed motives.
Just pray for them...
that's all.

God does not demand the perpetuation of toxic relationships.

In fact, His expectation of us is to refrain from non-edifying situations.
He commands us to lay the weights aside.

It is just plain wrong
to continue to foster a warm, inviting environment
in which these ruthless, blood-sucking "leech-type" people
can thrive and exist in our world.
To consistently make it comfortable for 
them to inflict their presumptuous,
over-bearing toxins
is not something our kind, loving Creator requires.
In fact, His Word tells us 
to "follow after things..wherewith one may edify another".

The thing to ask ourselves is this...
am I being edified by this relationship?
We need to think about what it means to be edified...
based on the original Greek meanings and interpretations
(included at the beginning).

Is this relationship building me up...spiritually?
Is it creating a place in which the Lord would wish to abide?
Would He perpetuate this environment?
Is this promoting my spiritual a Christian?
Is it prodding me to be more pious, holy...and happy?

Time is just too precious to waste.
We only have so much of it...
then it is gone.
The Bible is clear.
If it isn't edifying,
don't partake of it.
Don't encourage it.
Don't give it leverage.
Don't continue to waste your time on it.
No longer endure its abuse.

We should do all we can to help another spiritually.
I am all for that.
We should be examples of strong edification.
But, when we identify that a situation is no longer edifying, 
that we are not accomplishing any spiritual good,
that the continuation of a relationship is not building us up,
but instead wearing and tearing us down....
to the point of breaking us...
it is time to let it go.

There are those who truly need us...
to be there for them,
to love them,
to be strong for them,
to fill our God-given role.

Allowing a despiteful user to drain the life out of us
is not fair to our spouse, our children, and others whom
God has faithfully placed in our lives.

We need to make a choice.
Where will we place our energy...
our life?
Where does God want it to be placed?
What does He require?

As you read, have you identified a toxic relationship in your life?

A "leech"-type, one-sided relationship in which the other person
has only their own selfish satisfaction in mind when making demands of you?

Are you being despitefully used....
and in the process being drained of all emotional and spiritual health?
Is there nothing left to give the ones you love most...
because your strength is being drained by a "leech"?

Let me ask you this...
how long have you tried to appease this kind of mindset?
Is it ever satisfied?
I can assure you that it never will be.
From lots of experience,
I can testify that this is not healthy for you.
You will be completely defeated...
and depleted...
by this spirit...
IF you allow it to continue...
IF you keep enabling this person to use you.
They can't do this...
without your permission.

The next move is up to you, my friend.
You must draw the hard line.
You must show the tough love.
You must create the distance.
More than likely,
this situation will never change on its own.
Takers will always be takers.
Despiteful users will, more often than not,
always be despiteful users.
A leech does not metamorphosize...
into a beautiful, graceful, non-intrusive butterfly.
It is always a leech.

Waiting for the other person to change is not wise.

What if it never happens?

Protect your life.
Start now.
Remember, the life is in the blood.
(Leviticus 17:11).
The blood is what a leech is after.
It is up to us to protect, guard, and defend our self,
our spirit, 
our life,
for the sake of our families....
by cleansing the toxins.
Making the hard choices.
Deciding what is most important.
Purging the relationships.
Shedding the undesirables.
Avoiding the leeches.
Following Jesus' advice to simply pray....
for those despiteful users.

Continually allowing someone else to drain us is unhealthy,
and we are the only ones who can stop it.
Or as my friend so aptly puts it,
"Shed".  (:~)

A "leech" can take on many forms.
It doesn't always come to us in the form of a person.
But that is fodder for another day...
logs to stoke another devotional fire!

More coming soon....


  1. This post has given me so much understanding on a current situation I am dealing with. May God richly bless you.

  2. Bless your dear heart! Thank you so much for leaving this note of encouragement behind. I trust God will bless you and bring you through your situation. He is so faithful! God's peace be with you always. Love, Cheryl