Let me preface this piece by saying this piece is not addressing dangerous, abusive relationships.
We all encounter people who ‘get on our nerves’. We all have people in our families, workplaces, and even churches who love to cause trouble, drama and who cause us high levels of stress and anxiety.
Some people have a chronic propensity to bring negativity to every interaction.
One of the most common and seemingly practical pieces of advice is to remove the people toxic people from our lives…but does the Bible support that teaching?
It sounds good in blog posts, self help books, sermons, and motivational speeches, but how does God expect us to handle the situation?
Notice that God told Ezekiel that He was sending Him to…well a nation of ‘toxic people’.
Ezekiel 2:3-5 (NKJV)
3 And He said to me: “Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. 4 For they are [a]impudent and stubborn children. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ 5 As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse—for they are a rebellious house—yet they will know that a prophet has been among them.
God equipped Ezekiel for the challenge, and He is trying to equip us…
Ezekiel 3:7-9 (NKJV)
7 But the house of Israel will not listen to you, because they will not listen to Me; for all the house of Israel are [a]impudent and hard-hearted. 8 Behold, I have made your face strong against their faces, and your forehead strong against their foreheads. 9 Like adamant stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead; do not be afraid of them, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house.
Yeshua the Messiah, Jesus Christ, sent His disciples into ‘toxic situations’…
Matthew 10:16 (NKJV)
16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless[a] as doves.
The fact is that Jesus gave us instructions for how to handle people who intentionally antagonize us…
Matthew 5:44 (NKJV)
44 [a]But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
Notice that the Lord didn’t say avoid your enemies, block those who curse you, and remove those who spitefully use and persecute you from your life.
God expects us to strong enough to be light, and a positive spiritual influence to those who are ‘toxic’. The very person or persons that you have decided to eliminate from you life might have been specifically sent into your life to benefit from your light.
Let’s say you’re one of those people on social media who announce they are unfriending or blocking the ‘negative or messy’ people from their lives. These are people who haven’t unfriended or blocked you from their lives, even though they may be sometimes annoyed by your passion or love for God. You may be the only light they see in a sea of the craziness on social media.
God expects us to be strong and grow in wisdom, knowledge, understanding, love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, self-control and faithfulness enough so we can represent His glory and image in every relationship and interaction.
This is when what God told us through the apostle Paul is the most powerful…
Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
13 I can do all things through [a]Christ who strengthens me.
Before you get rid of someone toxic, why not pray for the strength, wisdom and patience to be a blessing to them?
What if Jesus had decided to reject the negative people in His earthly ministry?
Before you block their calls, what if blocked yours?