Unsafe People – Part Three

We are looking at relationships and who is safe to build relationally with and who is not. We are currently looking at the character qualities of those who are not safe for you to enter into a relationship with. In the last two blogs we have seen the first four character issues of unsafe people…

1> Unsafe people think that ‘have it all together’ instead of admitting their weaknesses

2> Unsafe people are religious instead of spiritual

3> Unsafe people are defensive instead of open to feedback

4> Unsafe people are self-righteous instead of humble

5> Unsafe people only apologize instead of changing their behaviour

Often an unsafe person will apologize for their behaviour or words. They will say, “I’m sorry” but there will be absolutely no change in their behaviour. Or, at the end of an argument they will say, “I love you” when really that is not true. They love themselves so much that they are not willing to change and won’t change. In fact, they expect you to change, and only you. Words are easy to say and often don’t have any substance, depth, or truth in them.

A person who is truly sorry will repent of their behaviour and not repeat it. To repent means to change one’s mind and to turn around and be transformed. In other words, to repent means to change. Before Jesus’ ministry began, John the Baptist sternly preached repentance to the Jews: “He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Luke 3:7-9)

Repentant people will recognize a wrong and really want to change because they do not want to be that kind of person. They are motivated by love to not hurt anyone like that again. These are trustworthy people because they are on the road to holiness and change, and their behaviour matters to them.

People who apologize quickly may act like they are sorry or as if they are interested in changing and becoming more like Jesus (holiness), but they are really leading someone on. They may say all the words, and some are taken in by their tears and ‘sorrow.’ But in reality they are more sorry about getting confronted and caught. They do not change, and the future will be exactly like the past.

The issue is not perfection. People who are changing still are not perfect and may sin again. But there is a qualitative change that is visible in people of repentance that does not have to do with guilt, getting caught, or trying to get someone off their back. 

The prognosis for change is always better when it is not motivated by a “getting caught” episode, but by real confession and coming to the light about what is truly and really wrong about their behaviour. Sometimes, when someone is “caught,” they will repent and change, but that repentance can only be tested over time.

The general principle is to look whether the “repentance” is motivated from outside pressure or from a true internal desire to change. Getting caught or adapting to someone’s anger is not a long lasting motivator. Eventually the motivations must be a hunger and thirst for righteousness and love for the other person, the person they are injuring.