some people in our lives can be toxic.
you know that person that you're around, maybe a friend, a person you go to church with, or even a family member that seems to always breed the wrong emotions and the wrong actions in your life when you're around them?
many times as followers of Christ, in the name of love, we have allowed these toxic people deeply into our lives and we are worse off for it. many times we think that just being passive is being loving; that just letting it go all the time is the Christ-like thing to do. we say to ourselves "the Bible says to love our enemies and do good to those who despitefully use us and persecute us, so i'll just continue to hand the hammer to this toxic person to beat me over the head with it every time i see them in the name of love."
while it is true that the Bible says to love our enemies, even the toxic people, it also tells us just as strongly to build healthy boundaries between ourselves and others who are delivering poison into our lives. the truth is that we can still do good to our enemies and still love them in a Christ-like way while establishing healthy and necessary boundaries with them.
so where does the Bible say this you ask? many places, but im going to give you one now.
2Th 3:14 ESV - "If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. v. 15 Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother."
here is the Apostle Paul speaking to the church at Thessalonica and telling them to establish boundaries in their lives with certain toxic people. he tells them to "have nothing to do with" a person that doesnt obey Scripture and also doesnt submit to the authority of the leaders of the church, yet still calls himself a brother. basically a person who talks the talk, but doesnt walk the walk. Paul said that is not a person we should have a close, open relationship with.
i can hear the questions already; what if its a mom, dad, husband, wife, sister, brother, boss? Scripture speaks specifically to each one of these cases, however Godly wisdom would note that your relationship would still have to have healthy boundaries in these cases in order to be fruitful. the precedent of what Paul said here would remain in these cases.
remember the key here though is what is says in verse 15 which is to "warn him/her as a brother/sister" not to "regard them as an enemy". the boundary that we develop with toxic people is not to hurt them, it's to grab their attention. it's to cause them to say, "wait, why are you distancing yourself from me?"
Paul's intentions were always to restore and not to hurt. however he knew that sometimes love was tough, and it established boundaries in order to express itself clearly to the other party. from the position of these healthy and safe boundaries, we can then do good to those that use us, bless them, and pray for them.
the other part of this is that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, our Senior Pastor, who wants to protect us from toxic relationships as much as possible. just as you and i long to protect our kids, how much more our Heavenly Father longs to protect us? He wants us to have fruitful, Godly, and life-giving relationships with others.
following the principles of His Word will breed life into you and your relationships. some people may choose to never change, however many people will change simply because of the boundary that you placed in your relationship with them in a Christ-like way. you will also feel more emotionally and spiritually healthy once you develop these boundaries.
remember, this is Scriptural. so do it in confidence of Gods Word.
God is good.
p.s. - other boundary building Scriptures are 2 Thessalonians 3:6 and Titus 3:10 just to name a couple more.