Here are 5 things God will often do to reveal red flags about someone to help you avoid getting hurt in a bad relationship.
1. If You See that Their Biblical Behavior Is the Outlier and Their Impulsive Behavior Is the Norm, This Is a Sign God Is Showing You a Red Flag
As all Christians know, we are called to obey God’s word. That’s obvious. But one way we can be deceived in relationships is that we cling to the few instances someone does obey God’s word and then try to ignore all the other times they are not obeying God’s commands.
For better or worse, trends should carry more weight than outliers. We can’t play games with the data God is sending us about this person. We can’t emphasize an outlier of good behavior and then ignore a trend of bad behavior. Notice the emphasis on the word “walk” in 1 John 1:6-7. It states:
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
The term “walk” means what we are consistently doing in our lives. 1 John 1:8 states, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” John clearly adds this statement right after his emphasis on walking in the light so we are not confused and think we will be perfect and never sin. Christians still sin, but a true Christian cannot consistently walk in darkness without repenting.
2. If You Feel Uneasy About This Relationship During Your Prayer Times, This Is Often a Sign God Is Showing You a Red Flag About This Relationship
It’s completely normal to feel uneasy about a relationship. Even when you start dating the one God will have you marry one day, you will most likely still have seasons of uneasiness and doubt before you truly know this is who God wants you to marry. So I’m not saying that your uneasiness about a relationship is an automatic red flag.
But “when” you feel uneasy about this relationship should be noted. When God wants you with someone, you will have peace about this relationship when you pray about it. Sure you might feel anxious sometimes when you pray about it, but if God wants you with someone you will mostly feel peace when you pray about being with this person.
If, however, you mostly feel uneasy when you pray about this person, that should carry more weight than if you feel at peace when you are with this person. It’s a good sign to feel at peace with this person, but it’s more important that you feel at peace about this person when you are in God’s presence, because his view of this relationship matters more than anything else.
As Paul said in Galatians 1:10, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
3. If Someone Holds You to a Higher Standard Than Themselves, This Is a Sign God Is Showing You a Red Flag
Obeying God’s laws is not hard, it is impossible. What I mean is that none of us will obey God’s laws perfectly. This is why Jesus came. He came to fulfill the law on our behalf because we were unable to do it (Matthew 5:17-20).
It’s easy to love this gospel-truth when we apply it to ourselves. But as Christians we are not only called to see ourselves through the lens of God’s grace. We are also called to see other Christians through God’s grace as well. It is a sign of a religious spirit and pride in one’s life when they generously apply grace to themselves but legalistically judge you.
We are called to obey God’s laws. We should seek perfect obedience while also knowing we will fail at times. So my point is not to abuse the grace of God by stating we can sin with no consequence (Romans 6:1-4). My point is simply to point out that if someone is more concerned with your sin than their own, this is a big red flag. For as Jesus said in Matthew 7:3-5 about hypocrisy:
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
4. If God Puts You Through Circumstances with This Person That Expose Their Spiritual Immaturity, This Is a Sign God Is Revealing a Red Flag to You
One of the main benefits of going through a season of dating with someone is that God will speak to you about this relationship through the circumstances that occur. Humans are variables that react differently in different situations. In one environment someone could be perfectly self-controlled but then you put that same person in a different situation and they could act crazy and out of control. Notice the importance Paul points out of observing someone firsthand in real life situations. In 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10 he wrote:
Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”
The Thessalonians knew Paul was a hard worker and someone worthy of imitating because they observed him in real life situations and circumstances. But Paul tells us to also take note when people react poorly in certain circumstances. For example, perhaps these idle people Paul was referring to were fabulous Christians at church, praising God, saying all the right things, but then throughout the week they just sat home instead of going out to work. Paul tells us to take note of people who are not responding well to certain situations.
Just a few verses later in 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 he states, “If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” Likewise, if God is putting you and this person through a situation that is causing you to see a new side to this person that is unhealthy, God is showing you a red flag and could be telling you to avoid this person.
5. If Someone Has No Roots in Any Part of Their Life, This Is Often a Sign God Is Showing You a Red Flag
We all go through seasons of being uprooted from time to time. God puts us through seasons where we may lose our church family, we may lose many friends, or we may need to distance ourselves from certain family members who are treating us in an unhealthy way.
But if this is a repeated theme in someone’s life that constantly happens no matter where this person goes, usually the variable causing this trend is this person. It’s not logical to say that everyone in the world is abandoning this person and leaving them with no roots. Again, sometimes this could happen but not all the time.
So if someone has no roots, if they have no commitments, and they can’t seem to stay in one place for long, this is probably because they are burning those bridges themselves and will most likely treat you the same way they have treated everyone else in their life. As Proverbs 26:11 (NIV) states, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.”