What Does The Bible Say About Toxic People?

What Does The Bible Say About Toxic People? September 7, 2023

Peace is elusive.
Life is full of beauty, if we have eyes to see. Credit: Rich Siller

Toxic People –How Do We, As Christians, Handle Them?

When dealing with toxic people, how do we maintain our Christian principle of love, without being a doormat? Does Jesus expect us to keep going back for more abuse? Absolutely not. “Above all else, guard your heart.” Proverbs 4:23

Did Jesus continue to allow the money changers in the temple to keep going, even though He was angry and wanted it to stop? No. He knocked over their tables! We are allowed to have a voice!

My dad always used to tell me, “Conquer hatred with love.” It is a magnificent idea in theory, but in practice it can be risky. I always hoped I could somehow mend relationships with mean people, or help them be happier. But the truth is, if we squeeze an orange, we will always get orange juice, not mango!  Arrogant, angry, jealous and bitter people, will continue to spew insults and negativity wherever they go, despite our attempts to be extra loving and caring to them.

As committed Christians, we must love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We must love our neighbors as ourselves. We can say what we mean, mean what we say, but not say it in a mean way. We can step back, and detach with love. We absolutely have to forgive.

I have experienced a lifetime’s worth of toxicity. I was bullied as a child, both verbally and physically. I was bullied as an adult in a few workplaces. I have spent too much time with people who deliver micro-aggressive jabs, just for fun. I used to feel that I had to continue hanging out with these miserable folks, out of a sense of obligation. I lacked the courage to make changes in my life, in order to minimize my exposure. I did not realize that we all have choices. We can always, always walk away.

sunflowers create happiness
Sunflowers are a symbol of joy. Credit: T. Siller

The Wrong Approach/The Right Approach in God’s Eyes

When I hear a person struggling with anger over something reprehensible someone in their life did, I can relate. The shock and rage are debilitating for a long time. Recovering from betrayal and abuse takes days, months, years sometimes, unfortunately. We are humans, after all, and need to give ourselves space to process awfulness.

In our own flawed, messy human power, we can stay furious for way too long. This state of mind will affect not only our general outlook, but also our physical health. Migraines, stomach troubles and autoimmune diseases are the result of an unforgiving heart. Remaining apoplectic is just not worth it. “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God, and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble…” Hebrews 12:15

The good news is, we can relinquish our wrath to God. He has huge shoulders and can take anything we dish out! Plus, He wants to!

We are not alone. God will always do for us what we cannot do for ourselves! He will help us forgive anytime we ask. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

Butterflies bring hope.
Butterflies bring hope. Credit: Rich Siller

There Can Be Forgiveness Without Reconciliation

It took me years to learn that forgiveness does not need its completion in reconciliation. God always tries to deliver messages to us, in His creative, sneaky way. This helpful God-hint came in the form of a book title on a little shelf at the grocery store, staring right at me when I was cruising toward the frozen peas. Forgiveness Does Not Require Reconciliation was the Christian book’s title. Huh? Oh. (Insert Chris Farley palm to the forehead).

When someone has hurt us deeply, we can try to reconcile. We can discuss what happened in a civil, respectful manner, apologize for our part in it, and occasionally these efforts create more closeness. Such a beautiful outcome.

Or, we can show up at their door bearing gifts, and they can simply snub us, uninterested in ever making up. Not caring, not listening, being a stiff hunk of hard, bitter granite. That is their choice. That is their prerogative. We realize then that we are only responsible for what we do, not what anyone else does.

serene sunset
God’s goodnight painting. He is always there for us. Credit: T. Siller

Our main job in God’s eyes, is to forgive others, no matter what, as He has forgiven us. This is paramount, and when we have His help, we can do it! We wish these toxic people well, deep in our hearts.  We pray for them every single day. If they are open to Jesus’ healing, it is theirs for the taking.

Jesus gives us Himself
Jesus gives us Himself. Credit: Rich Siller
About Theresa Corbley Siller
Theresa Corbley Siller has been a teacher of all ages for 37 years. She has been published in Guideposts, Dance Life, OC87 Recovery Diaries and The Magnolia Review Literary Journal. She has published 5 books, all on Amazon. Theresa is very grateful for her husband, Rich, and their daughters, Michelle, Caroline and Christyanne. You can read more about the author here.

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