We all know people who are annoying and it is a natural tendency to avoid them. However, those are not the people this post is about. Sometimes we feel awkward around certain people and go out of our way to avoid being near them. This post is not about them, either.
I’m talking about those who have proven time and time again that they don’t like us… who never have a kind word to say behind our backs… who go so far as to lie about us to make us look as bad as they think we are… those who have come to be referred to as the “toxic” people in your life.
I do not claim to know the psychology behind their behaviour. Perhaps it comes from an inner conflict that is pouring out and destroying their relationships with others. Maybe they are the type of person who is jealous of others while blind to their own good qualities. Only God knows, and only He can fix that situation. His plan may be to fix it by removing them from your life.
It goes against our nature as Christians to shut someone out of our lives. We want to live by Romans 12:18 – “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” But read this again: “as far as it depends on you.” Sometimes the situation escalates until it is out of our hands.
Don’t just shut someone out of your life without first trying. Just as God has forgiven us from all our sins, He has also forgiven those who treat us badly. Furthermore, we must forgive them, and we must forgive seventy times seven. That said, there are those for whom a second chance, third chance, or even fourth chance are perceived as permission to keep up their bad behaviour. Many of us give far more chances than is Biblical. We are told in Titus 3:10 to “warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.”
Breaking contact does not mean that you are throwing a tantrum and giving them the silent treatment. That is immature, and not Christ-like. It is something you are doing to have peace in your own life, and to “live at peace with everyone.” You didn’t cause their behaviour, and you do not need to be the target of it.
Forgiveness does not mean you have to keep coming back for more abuse. Nor does it mean you condone their behaviour. It is something you do for yourself. It is something you do because Jesus Himself commands us to forgive others. It will leave you with the spiritual peace of accepting they will not change.
Realize that they are also human and they deserve to be loved. Actually feel the love for them. But recognize that it’s sometimes okay to love from afar. Pray for them. Wish them the best. Be happy for them when something good happens in their lives. Living in peace with someone doesn’t mean you need to be in contact. In fact, removing contact can be a gift you give to them as well.
Set your boundaries, and do not allow them to argue with you. 2 Timothy 2;23 warns us, “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.”
And above all, rest in the assurance that your actions are, indeed, Biblical.