I told the people of Renovation Church last Sunday that I sometimes have the spiritual gift of being offensive so… here we go.
Let’s tackle a controversial question: should you avoid toxic people? According to the many posts shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – toxic people are to be avoided at all costs. You should not befriend them, speak to them, or give them any amount of space in your life. If you do so, you will end up miserable, angry, and exhausted.
I guess it’s a good thing Jesus didn’t do that – you would be in Hell.
The word toxic literally means, “a poisonous substance.” Therefore, a “toxic person” can be defined as a poisonous, or death-giving, human being. A toxic person is one who commits great sins without concern or care for those hurt by their terrible actions. It is the person who freely betrays your confidence; the one who joyfully gossips and tears you down behind your back.
According to a recent blog post I read, you should avoid these eight kinds of toxic people:
1. Those who spread negativity.
2. Those who criticize you all the time.
3. Those who waste your time.
4. Those who are jealous.
5. Those who play the victim.
6. Those who don’t care.
7. Those who are self-centered.
8. Those who keep disappointing you.
Friend, here’s the problem with this philosophy. If you take it seriously, you should avoid yourself.
You are toxic.
You spread negativity.
You waste people’s time.
You become overly jealous.
You play the victim.
You don’t care.
You are self-centered.
You keep disappointing others.
So do I.
Our human nature tempts us to label people with a term such as toxic so that we do not feel guilty for treating people made in the image of God as being less than human. Instead, we view them as sub-human; a strange “toxic” kind of person to be avoided at all costs.
Hurt people hurt people.
According to Scripture, you are unrighteous, ignorant, evil, worthless, deceptive, cursing, poisonous, violent, wretched, and rebellious apart from Christ (see Romans 3:10-18)
Thank God, Jesus came for unrighteous, ignorant, worthless, evil, cursing, violent, and toxic people like us. There was a time in Jesus’ ministry when he was slandered for spending time with so-called toxic & sinful people. Jesus’ response is one we must keep in mind when we are hurt by the so-called toxic people in our own lives – “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick… (Mark 2:17)”
So, should we avoid “toxic people”?
Only if you figured out a way to avoid yourself. The message of the Gospel calls us to befriend broken and toxic people that we might be a means God uses to bring healing through the power of the Holy Spirit.
But won’t befriending toxic people leave us bitter and pessimistic?
Yes, if you seek to do so through your own power and look to broken relationships to do what only God can do – provide the deep healing, energy, and strength needed for the ministry of the Gospel. If your joy is dependent on the human relationships in your life, no amount of “positive” people will bring healing to your soul. The only One who can provide lasting strength, peace, and wholeness is the Living God through Jesus Christ.
We pursue toxic people because we are toxic people who have found forgiveness, grace, and healing at the cross of Jesus Christ – the only non-toxic person to ever live.