A few years ago, I hired a nutritionist to help me reach some personal goals. And the first rule she gave me was this: If it doesn’t nurture or nourish you, cut it out of your life. I thought at first she meant food, but she really meant ANYTHING that doesn’t nurture or nourish my life. From social media to TV to yes… people.
It was a simple but resounding lesson that caused me to take a step back and evaluate everything in my life, including the people in it.
Are there people in your life who are toxic? If you’re not sure, ask yourself, are there people in my life who…
- Bring you down when you are with them?
- Who bring you into their drama? (After all, misery loves company)
- Are there people in your life who constantly tear you down or hurt you?
- Are they a bad influence on you?
- Do they compromise your morals?
- Are they dishonest and unfaithful and encourage you to sin?
Does a particular person come to mind? If so, I encourage you to evaluate whether or not you want this toxic person in your life.
What Makes A Person Toxic in Your Life?
A toxic person is someone in your life who creates division between you and your happiness, morals, walk with God, relationships, confidence, and integrity. One of Satan’s many names is ‘Diablo’ which in Greek is the one who divides. He is roaming the earth with the goal of dividing our relationships, marriages, and families. And at times, can use other people to accomplish this goal.
“Toxic” can come in many forms. Who are the toxic people in your life? Here are a few signs:
Signs of Toxic Behavior
The person who upsets you with their negative thoughts and changes the atmosphere of the room when they walk in.
- They are those you trust but who take advantage of you to get ahead.
- They are hateful people, hating themselves and everyone around them.
- They are only there for you through the bad times to get you fired up, but are never there when things are going good in your life.
- They might try to take revenge on you and want to hurt you.
- They might encourage you to be unfaithful to your spouse or corrupt other morals and laws you hold to. They usually think only of themselves and their own happiness.
Is Their Toxic Behavior Changing Yours?
I had a girlfriend in my life, who every time I spoke to her, would complain about her husband or some other part of her life. She would tell me the latest story of her promiscuity and unfaithfulness. She was envious and greedy and never seemed to support the positive blessings I was experiencing.
I would listen to her and then offer advice, often quoting Scripture and Biblical truth. I tried to ignore the lies and negativity she would project onto me. Until I realized that her thought pattern began to affect mine. Her drama and negativity were bringing me down and starting to compromise my morals and values. Of course, I am the one ultimately in control of my own thoughts. But over time, this friend began planting seeds of doubt in my life and made me question and second guess myself.
Should I Cut This Toxic Person Out of My Life?
Romans 14:13 says to “live in such a way that you never do anything that would cause others to stumble and fall into sin affecting anyone’s faith.”
If any of the above describes someone in your life, then you are probably dealing with a toxic relationship. So, what should you do? 1 Corinthians 15:33 clearly says “bad company corrupts good character.” Based on this passage of Scripture, I believe it is okay to cut anything toxic things of your life, including people. Cut out the bad company. Cut those who would cause you to stumble, fall into sin, or affect your faith.
What to Do When You Can’t Cut A Toxic Person Out of Your Life
Sometimes we don’t have the choice of cutting toxic people out of our lives. Perhaps they are family, or a boss or co-worker. Maybe you don’t want to cut the person off completely. Maybe your ex-spouse is still a part of your child’s life. For those of you who don’t have a choice, or don’t want to completely cut off this person, below are some steps to take.
- Set up boundaries – Placing boundaries around friendships enable you to still be a friend, but also protect someone’s sin and behavior to not enter into your mind and your heart. You can love and support this friend still, but not participate in any toxic behaviors alongside them.
- Put your armor on – When associating yourself with toxic people, the most important thing you can do is guard yourself with the armor of God. Ephesians 6:11 remind us to “put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all the strategies of the devil.” The devil could try to tempt you with this toxic person’s behavior so it’s important to be prepared.
- Examine your heart – Take inventory of your experience with this toxic person. Is your life showing them Christ? Are you exemplifying the fruits of the Spirit in your interactions with them? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-22). Or are you participating in a negative way with them? Examine your heart, confess your sin, and repent asking God to guard your heart and interactions with this person.
How Jesus Dealt with Toxic People
Let’s look at Jesus, our perfect example when it comes to dealing with toxicity. Remember, “Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way that we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). He is the one whom we can pray to about dealing with toxic people in our life, as he understands exactly what we are going through.
Judas: A Toxic Bible Character
When you think of Jesus and some of the toxic people he dealt with, Judas is the first person that comes to mind. Judas was a disciple as he chosen as one of the twelve. He was a friend and companion over the three years of Jesus’ ministry. Judas had been stealing for the three years, robbing the money that was there to support Jesus and the disciples and to feed the poor. He was lying and deceitful, and then betrayed Jesus as he was the one that sold Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver which was the cost of a slave. He was a betrayer. The Webster definition of “a Judas” is one who ‘betrays you while pretending to be your friend.’ He was toxic.
During the Passover meal, Jesus shares this meal with Judas. He shares the same bowl and bread with the one who is in the midst of betraying him.
Jesus also does something even more humbling than that. He washes Judas’ feet. Jesus KNEW Judas was going to betray him. Jesus knew the anguish that was coming. The beatings, the scourging, the agonizing walk on the stone street, the humiliation, the ultimate torture, the cross itself. Yet, even in this moment, Jesus humbled Himself and washed Judas’s feet. Jesus ate with him, loved him, and served him despite how toxic Judas was.
Jesus’ way of dealing with toxic people is to love them despite the toxic behavior. He even took it a step further and forgave toxic Judas while hanging on the cross. He forgave the man and others that ultimately sold him to the cross saying “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 22:34)
Jesus Is Our Greatest Example and Teacher
I chose to cut my toxic girlfriend out of my life. She was affecting my obedience to the Lord and causing me to stumble. But just as Jesus did, I can still choose to love her and forgive her. Matthew 5:44 says, “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you…” Jesus is the perfect example we have. And he experienced the same things we experience today: toxic people.
Just because we cut someone out of our life, does not mean we are off the hook from caring about that person. We should still pray for, love, and forgive the person. Don’t engage or participate in the negativity. Walk in your obedience to the Lord and cut out the toxic people that may be the stumbling block in the way of what God has for you. God has a big plan for you, and stumbling blocks inhibit you from walking in that wonderful plan.
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Alisha Headley is a writer and speaker who has a passion to meet the everyday woman in her everyday life with wisdom gained from personal experiences and Biblical truth. Through her unique style of writing, she is able to seamlessly connect with other women. She talks bout tough everyday truths by sharing her own personal struggles along with a variety of life experiences. Alisha is a proud stay at home wifey and dog mama who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. You can find Alisha here: