Ignoring someone can be a difficult thing to do, especially if it’s someone close to us like a friend or family member. However, there are times when ignoring someone may be the wisest course of action. The Bible provides guidance on this issue and how we as Christians should handle relationships where ignoring someone may be necessary. In examining Scripture, we find several key principles:
- We are called to love others, even those who hurt us
- At times we may need to limit interactions with certain people
- Ignoring someone shouldn’t be done out of spite or revenge
- The goal should be restoration and reconciliation where possible
- Wisdom, discernment and prayer are needed to know when to ignore and when to engage
- Ignoring as a protective measure against harm is warranted
- We should make efforts to reconcile relationships where feasible
- Ignoring shouldn’t be done angrily but with love and boundaries
- Prayer and counsel from others is advisable before ignoring someone
- The purpose should be correcting behavior and restoring relationships
- Patience and leaving room for repentance is important
In examining what Scripture says about ignoring others, we will look at biblical principles on relationships, conflict resolution, dealing with difficult people, and acting with love. The Bible advises seeking wisdom from God when navigating relational complexities. As Christians, we are called to act with grace and truth. By gaining understanding from God’s Word, we can know better when ignoring someone may be prudent and when we should instead work to resolve relational divides.
- Reasons We May Be Called to Ignore Someone for a Time
- Guidance on Reconciliation and Restoration
- Guidance for Discernment in Relationships
- Key Takeaways
Reasons We May Be Called to Ignore Someone for a Time
The Bible acknowledges there may be times when we decide limiting interactions or ignoring someone is the wisest course. Scripture provides several reasons this may be necessary:
Protecting Ourselves from Harm
We are called to show Christ-like love, but we are not expected to endure abuse or toxicity. Scripture permits setting healthy boundaries and limiting exposure to those who seek to harm us. As Proverbs 4:14-15 (NKJV) advises:
Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; Turn away from it and pass on.
Additionally, Psalm 1:1 (NKJV) states:
Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful.
Removing ourselves from harmful relationships for a time can be warranted for self-protection.
Avoiding Strife and Foolish Arguments
The Bible cautions against engaging in unnecessary arguments and strife, advising there are times to avoid confrontations to prevent escalation.
Proverbs 20:3 (NKJV) warns:
It is honorable for a man to stop striving, Since any fool can start a quarrel.
Proverbs 17:14 (NKJV) also advises:
The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.
Ignoring someone may be the wise path to avoid escalating conflict.
Preventing the Spread of False or Harmful Teaching
Scripture advises limiting interactions with those spreading false doctrine or unbiblical lifestyles, to avoid their influence spreading.
Romans 16:17-18 (NKJV) states:
Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.
2 John 1:9-11 speaks specifically to false teachers:
Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.
A temporary separation may be needed to guard our spiritual walk.
To Inspire Repentance and Changed Behavior
At times, employing “tough love” by withdrawing and ignoring someone can inspire self-reflection and repentance in that individual. By no longer enabling or affirming negative behaviors, we give pause for the person to recognize their errors.
2 Thessalonians 3:13-15 (NKJV) encourages:
But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
Showing loving firmness can facilitate changed behavior and restoration.
Guidance on Reconciliation and Restoration
While there are valid reasons we may need to ignore someone for a season, Scripture provides wise counsel on how to approach these relationships with the goal of eventual reconciliation where feasible.
Be Slow to Anger and Quick to Listen
The Bible cautions against reacting in anger and advises patience and careful listening even when conflicts arise.
James 1:19-20 (NKJV) reminds us:
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Proverbs 18:13 (NKJV) also warns:
He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.
Approaching the individual with care and Christ-like compassion is key.
Seek Understanding of Their Perspective
Rather than reacting defensively, Scripture encourages truly listening to the other person’s vantage point and seeking to understand them.
Proverbs 18:2 (NKJV) notes:
A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart.
And James 1:19 (NKJV) advises:
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.
Making efforts to comprehend their viewpoint and motivations prevents miscommunication.
Be Quick to Forgive and Work Towards Reconciliation
While prudence may require temporary separation, the Bible continually encourages forgiveness, grace and working to restore broken relationships.
Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV) reminds us:
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Luke 17:3-4 (NKJV) also exhorts:
Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.
Forgiveness and reconciliation should be our aim.
Act in Love, Not Anger or Vengeance
Scripture clearly warns that ignoring someone out of spite, anger or revenge is not God’s will. We are to act out of love and prudent discernment instead.
1 Peter 3:9 (NKJV) advises:
Not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
And Romans 12:19 (NKJV) reminds us:
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
Our motives must be focused on godly love and restoration.
Guidance for Discernment in Relationships
Navigating when to ignore someone and when instead to work through issues requires much wisdom and discernment. Thankfully Scripture provides useful principles on exercising God-given discernment in relationships.
Pray for Wisdom and Guidance
God promises to grant wisdom generously when we seek Him. Prayer is crucial for knowing His will in difficult relationships.
James 1:5 (NKJV) assures us:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
Bringing these relationships before God provides clarity on the right course.
Consider the Spiritual Maturity and Repentant Heart of the Individual
Scripture reminds us that people reap what they sow. Those sowing discord and unrepentant sin will likely continue in that path. Yet those exhibiting spiritual growth may warrant renewed effort at reconciliation.
Galatians 6:7-8 (NKJV) states:
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
Assessing the sincerity of their faith can guide wise action.
Seek Counsel from Mature Believers
Gaining perspective from mature Christians who know us and the individuals involved can provide valuable insight. Scripture repeatedly advises seeking wise counsel.
Proverbs 12:15 (NKJV) notes:
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.
Input from spiritual mentors can aid discernment.
Consider the Lessons Learned
As we reflect on the situation, we can grow in understanding ourselves, others and biblical principles for relationships. This equips us to handle matters more wisely going forward.
Proverbs 19:20 (NKJV) encourages:
Listen to counsel and receive instruction, That you may be wise in your latter days.
Careful evaluation grants maturity for the future.
Act According to Your Conscience Before God
Scripture reminds us that our conscience can guide us, when submitted to God’s truth and led by the Holy Spirit. Allowing Him to shape our conscience aids wisdom.
Romans 14:22-23 (NKJV) states:
Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
God can grant peace and conviction guiding the right decision.
In summary, Scripture provides much wise guidance for discerning if and when ignoring someone is prudent versus when we should make efforts at reconciliation. The Bible reminds us relationships can be complex, but God promises to give wisdom when we seek Him. As Christians we are called to act with compassion yet establish healthy boundaries against harm. While at times ignoring someone may be warranted, ideally the goal is restoration when the individual shows repentance. With prayer and Godly counsel, we can gain discernment for handling challenging relationships in a way that glorifies God.
- Ignoring someone to prevent harm to yourself is biblically supported
- Do not engage in unnecessary conflict or strife if it can be avoided
- Be careful of false teachers and limit contact to avoid being misled
- Ignoring as “tough love” may inspire changed behavior and repentance
- Be quick to listen, understand, forgive and reconcile where possible
- Do not ignore out of spite or revenge
- Pray for wisdom and godly discernment in difficult relationships
- Seek counsel from mature believers
- Make decisions according to your Spirit-led conscience
- Aim for restoration when feasible
Gaining understanding from God’s Word provides guidance on when ignoring someone may be prudent, and when reconciliation should be pursued for God’s glory.