I’m musing on the problem of toxicity. I can hear the groans out there and I groan with you. However, with all that we do to rid our bodies of toxic junk we eat (well I try but right now I just ate a dark chocolate nugget), our water with lead and other poisonous stuff, our lack of good air quality, and yes those toxic people that we are not sure what to do about…all of this and probably more. Indeed you can add some of your own “toxins” to the list.

It’s a downer but it’s also life on this planet. Whether we are spoiling the air, water, ground, or one another, it seems that we are heading further and further into toxicity and in the end, we should be smart enough to realize it’s deadly…for our bodies, minds, relationships, planet, and worst of all our hearts and souls.

We all have friends battling cancer, some are winning the fight but the toxins of chemo are tough. Yet if it rids the cancer the body can find healing and health. Sometimes even through all these miracles of medicine, we can’t rid our bodies of the toxins and the cancer takes our lives, leaving behind families who are broken at the loss of their loved ones.

How many of us have also wrestled with deadly toxins from spoiled food, or genetically modified food with chemicals we shouldn’t ingest, or breathing in foul air. Out here in the western states our overland wildfires have created not only devastation to the land, creatures and homes, but the toxic fumes touch anyone in their path. Then we have old pipes still made with lead—deadly especially to youngsters. Again you can had much more to the list.

And then there are toxic people—we all have them; perhaps we are one of them, but no matter the situation, it’s hard to be in “toxic company.” Like chemo ridding the cancer, there are times we just have to let these folks go. For me, that is hard because it seems to be so “un-Christian” yet if you read the Scriptures, you find a different perspective. For instance:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:33 [Voice]: “But don’t be so naïve—there’s another saying you know well—bad company corrupts good habits.”
  • Proverbs 22:24-25 [NLT]: “Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.”
  • Proverbs 4:14-17 [Voice]: “Do not start down the road of the wicked; the first step is easy, but it leads to heartache; do not go along the way of evildoers. Stay away from it; don’t even go past it, and if you find yourself anywhere near it, turn your back and run as far as you can in the opposite direction. For evildoers are so twisted they cannot sleep unless they have caused harm; they’ll lie awake all night until they figure out a way to cause someone to stumble.”
  • Romans 16:17-18 [Voice]: “I am pleading with all of you, brothers and sisters, to keep up your guard against anyone who is causing conflicts and enticing others with teachings contrary to what you have already learned. If there are people like that in your churches, stay away from them. These kinds of people are not truly serving our Lord Jesus the Anointed; they have devoted their lives to satisfying their own appetites. With smooth talking and a well-rehearsed blessing, they lead a lot of unsuspecting people down the wrong path.”

“Ouch!” I blurt out, yet I see myself in some of these and other people I have had to literally let go in a relationship. This is not easy but neither is being around a “growling tiger.” You either get bit or you stay away. Some of us put up with those bites over and over again and Scripture tells us to run but sometimes we feel we can’t. But there is another way!

Yes, Scripture tells us to get out of toxic relationships, but God has a word for us in how we handle that, such as in Matthew 18:15-17 [CEV] where Jesus says: “If one of my followers sins against you, go and point out what was wrong. But do it in private, just between the two of you. If that person listens, you have won back a follower. But if that one refuses to listen, take along one or two others. The Scriptures teach that every complaint must be proven true by two or more witnesses. If the follower refuses to listen to them, report the matter to the church. Anyone who refuses to listen to the church must be treated like an unbeliever or a tax collector.”

This may seem harsh but Jesus is telling us to not leave any “stone un-turned” in helping a toxic person. However, Jesus also tells us that sometimes we cannot make a difference with them and we must separate. And yet, Jesus tells us in Luke’s Gospel 6:28 [ESV] “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” In other words, we can love one another from a distance and never stop praying for those broken relationships.

In these politically-charged times, many of us have lost friends simply because we have different viewpoints and I find this so hard if not often despicable. Since when are our politics more important than our love for one another? Yet it happens as we sink into anger and stubbornness on “my rights” “my guns” “my-my-my…” when in the end we divide each other in ways that must have Jesus crying over us as he did over Jerusalem.

We may not want to be in the “same circle of friendships” when toxic people hurt us, but we still have to find ways to love even from a distance. Remember this: “Keep your heart open to people because if you close your heart to all people then you close yourself to God.”

There are a lot of good people left in this world and we have a very good God…so keep your heart open for them—even the toxic ones. I’m working on that one and I know many of you are as well. I am end this musing with a powerful quote from the Dalia Lama (picture above)—something worth putting into practice every single day, AMEN!

Our prime purpose in this life it to help others.
And if you can’t help them, please don’t hurt them.