Toxic People Need Jesus Too

Toxic People Need Jesus Too

“If Jesus spent three years pouring into Judas’ life, what are the implications for Christians and ‘cutting toxic people out’ of their lives” (Barnabas Piper). I agree with him and I am going to try to argue from a biblical perspective and an illustration. I have heard mostly women write or say this about “toxic” people in their lives and I always wondered if it was biblical.

The Apostle Paul wrote this: “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13).

In these verses, we are told to not keep company with those who call themselves believers but are living in sin. The purpose for this is not to condemn them but in hopes that this will convict them to turn from their sin and walk in the Spirit instead. It’s not to protect oneself but to fear for the other’s eternal soul. It’s what churches are commanded to do. “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:4,5). We know that in 2 Corinthians, this person repented and was restored to the church. This was done out of love for this man.

Then we are told in multiple places to avoid false doctrines and teachers. So yes, ignore them! But God is clear in His Word that we are to love our enemies and even heap burning coals (of love and kindness) upon their heads in hopes of winning them to Christ.

I have a very close friend. She had an extremely toxic father-in-law. He was cruel to her. He never said anything close to being kind to her. Her husband never tried to shield her from him since after all, he was his father. The last time my friend saw her FIL, he had come for a visit and was cruel as ever. When they dropped him off at the airport, she wheeled him into the airport while her husband went to park the car. As soon as they arrived in the terminal, he told her he needed to say something to her so she kneeled down on the hard floor, grabbed his hands, and looked into his eyes. As soon as she did this, tears began streaming down his face. He said, “I want to apologize to you. All I have ever been is cruel to you and all you have ever done is show love and kindness towards me. Please, forgive me. I want what you have.” He believed in Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior, and he went to be with the Lord soon afterwards.

No, you don’t have to be with the toxic people in your life continually, but I encourage you to not cut them out of your lives as so many are doing these days. Toxic people need Jesus too. What if all of the Christians in their lives cut them out. Their eternity looks bleak indeed. Everyone needs Jesus. Jesus hung out with “sinners” because He wanted them to know Him. We need to hang out with sinners, too, so they can know Jesus. No, don’t participate in their evil deeds but they need to see Jesus shining brightly in you. They need to be loved upon.

After all, we, as believers in Jesus Christ, should be the most loving, most kind, and most caring people in the world. Yes, this may cause suffering in our lives. My friend suffered due to the way her FIL treated her. She suffered for Christ. We are all called to suffer for Christ. This life is short. Eternity is long. We forgive as Jesus has forgiven us.

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.
1 Peter 2:21

***If you are sensitive, your feelings get hurt easily, or you are offended easily, I encourage you to read “Unoffendable” by Brant Hansen. “I used to think it was incumbent upon a Christian to take offense. I now think we should be the most refreshingly unoffendable people on a planet that seems to spin on an axis of offense.” My friend was unoffendable. She put her shield of faith in front of her each time her FIL threw fiery darts at her and those comments were pinged off of her shield of faith straight up to the throne of God.

16 thoughts on “Toxic People Need Jesus Too

  1. My father is a narcissist. So any attempt at showing love and kindness he sees as weekends and he uses it do manipulate you into doing what he wants. I after years of trying to connect with him, he only had. Interest in himself and no interest in anyone or anything else unless it made him look good. He was strict about going to church. But saw it as nothing more than a social event and a chance to make himself look good. His faith was a lie. Finally, he created an issue with our kids that put us and our kids in a horrible situation. I tried talking to him about it but I was only handed a ticket for a guilt trip. He refused the idea that his actions were potentially putting our kids in a dangerous situation. I finally suffered a stress induced seizure from trying to resolve the issue Along with trying to raise a large family. My body and mind were giving out. So I cut him off for the sake of my kids and my health. And I feel so much better for it .

    However I think a lot of people cut people off on a whim. It’s not a light hearted choice and should be done rarely. Sadly, my dad will probably never change. He’s been on valium for nearly 60 years and it’s rotted his brain. If anything he will only worsen.

  2. Wonderful message. So often people want to make things about themselves. God calls us to be light and salt to the world. We cannot do that by eliminating every “toxic” person from our lives. There is discernment in how we handle situations, but we should keep as a priority the fact that God’s desire is for that person to come to Him and accept Christ as Lord. I was blessed to have people in my life that showed this to me, despite my “toxic” actions. God met me where I was, and changed me through faith in Christ. We can be used by the Holy Spirit to impact others, influencing them to look to Christ.

  3. Great message. This is part of the New Age religion, which is nothing other than the brutal caste system of India, where some people are the “untouchables”, and no one wants anything to do with them. In our Marxist society we are trained to associate with other successful business people and stay away from those who aren’t wealthy.

    Also, anyone who challenges our beliefs, or disagrees with us is deemed “toxic”, and often written off.

    In reality responding with kindness and love conquers all.

    The greatest test of love is not how we treat those who treat us well, it’s how we treat those who mistreat us.

    Those who need love the most, deserve it the least.

    That does not take away the responsibility for church discipline, or healthy boundaries when people are abusing drugs, using porn, or doing other activities harmful to themselves or others.

  4. How do you deal with a father-in-law who is a Christian but divorced his wife and is remarried? Our family believes he is living in sin (we believe God Hayes divorce no matter the reason but he was the one who committed adultery in the marriage). We haven’t cut him off completely but scripture does say to not even eat with a sinful brother in Christ. What to do when you are stuck between honoring your father and mother and not fellow shipping with a Christian living in sin?

  5. I have been pondering this perspective for some time, regarding “boundaries”. I think the Lord put this issue on my heart and your article confirms what I’ve been thinking

  6. Beautiful story with a message of hope. We can follow his example “entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” We can entrust our lives to God and endure. Thank you for speaking truth.

  7. I think there’s a difference between “cutting people off” and “setting boundaries that may ultimately lead to estrangement.”

    I have a family member whom I’d love to see and communicate with. However, I set some limits on the ways he could be with our kids (no unsupervised visits), and I also told him that he’s messed up. Now he doesn’t speak to me, which is sad. However, I think I acted for the best. My first priority is to protect my children.

    I pray reconciliation will be possible. I pray he comes to know the Lord. But he may not, and he may never speak to me again. That will be his choice, however, not mine.

  8. I can wholly relate to Meg’s post. Having come from Dysfunction Junction, I have absolutely cut people from my life. Family. There are times when it’s necessary for self preservation. Some of those people will claim I need Jesus because I’m unwilling to dance to their tune. The *tune* can be to alter my entire life to accommodate their wishes, to tell me what my job is as sister, aunt, daughter, etc. is, why it’s my duty to loan them money, bail them out of jail, etc.

    I believe we’re all entitled to boundaries. When a relationship gets to the point when a person is feeling unsafe or ill, it’s time to cut the cord. At this point, it’s when toxic & abusive collide.

  9. I am not easily offended, and do not get my feelings hurt easily. My eldest brother does not like me and I do not know why. We never lived together, he’s 17 years older than me. I never did anything to him, that I know of – except be born. I have apologized to him a long time ago about ‘whatever it was that I did.’ I told him I loved him. He is my brother. I am the baby of the family – but I am 51 years old. I also have a middle sister who is extremely bossy and makes decisions for the family, sometimes involving 1 or 2 other siblings (I call them the “WE” group.) Those not involved in decisions just have to go along. Many times, I don’t really care, but sometimes I do. I have prayed about it and just when I think I have forgiven and forgotten the past – my eldest brother (and/or one of my sisters) does it again! It brings back all the other times they disregarded mine and other people’s feelings. Sometimes, these were life and death decisions. Some examples: The ONE time my eldest brother invited me to his house with another sibling (it was Sept. 1999) I was so surprised. But, it was only for them to tell me that since Mom and Dad were now living and being cared for by me – I needed to get rid of my cats! “WE’VE” decided you have to get rid of your cats!” Other decisions the “WE” people have made for me: “Mom is too sick and she doesn’t want to live anymore – so we are going to bring her {to my} home for you to take care of until she dies. So, get ready!” (Note that she had a bone infection. It was difficult to treat, but after another month – she came home and lived for 3 more years.) The decisions made by the “WE” people don’t just always hurt me. One of my other brothers said that all the times he wasn’t included or involved in decisions was like a feather on his heart. He would brush it off. The next time it happened, it would remind him of the other times. Then, he would feel he had a 1,000 pounds of feathers on his heart. I’ve talked to my siblings as a group and individually about this. But the certain few in the “WE” group keep doing it. Last time, it was a public event honoring my father, long deceased. No one was consulted and the “WE” group hit the rest of us with a list of “WE’VE” decided choices that excluded everybody else. I went along with the first 5 or 6 things – but then I put my foot down. Although I was calm and discreet, I may have created a scene with their reactions. I feel terrible about it, although 3 of my siblings applauded me at the time and afterward. What do you do with THOSE kind of repeated insults? By the way, all my siblings are Christians.

  10. Hi Debby,
    Thankyou for you’re comment. Even though I’ve cut him off, he still tried to contact me. Via threats,bribes,phonecalls,money etc. Before my seizure. I had gotten at least 300 calls from him in 2months. And he still continued to contact me, even after I informed him I’d seek a restraining order. But to a lesser degree. His use of valium will eventually kill him. (As the dr’s have said) and he cannot be trusted to make sound judgements because of it. I wish it was a different story. But it’s not.

  11. If his wife did not commit adultery, he isn’t free to remarry, and is living in adultery. Matthew 19:9.

    It’s doubly bad if he committed the adultery. The adulterer is never free to remarry. They can either reconcile, or live celibately for the rest of their lives.

    You are completely right not to eat with him or talk with him, if he is a Christian. If he’s in the world, it’s wise not to have too much to do with him either.

    You are right to follow your conscience

  12. Meg, I have the same issue with an in law and the family dynamic. It has been a huge dilemma in my life with how to handle it. Like the person/people don’t respect any boundaries and keep trying to cause division. It’s now affecting our daughter and I would rather her not be around their behavior. At the same time I want to show kindness and mercy. They use Christianity as a way of manipulating also. I’m always torn with what to do.

  13. Thank you for your input Montesquieu. Yes, he was the one who committed adultery not my mother-in-law. It’s coming to a head soon as he has bought gifts for our children and wants to deliver them. We still have to tell our children what their grandpa has done. 🙁 It’s all so awful. I think my husband may plan to see him but I do feel conflicted. I’d rather have zero but I think my husband wants limited contact. My husband has never made me go against my conscience on anything so I think I’ll ask if I can sit out the visit. I hope that won’t make things harder on my husband as I’m supposed to be his help.

  14. Hi Megan,
    I’d talk with you’re husband if at all possible about how it’s affecting you and respectfully ask him to tell the inlaw to back off. If they still won’t I’d at least limit contact down to birthday and Christmas cards and pray for them. With my dad it’s all about a series of mind games. And he always likes to have the upper hand. He was never going to understand the devestation he was causing and completely cutting him off was the only way to speak volumes to him. But he is annoyed because it prevents him from having the upper hand. I asked him to respect mine and my husband’s authority as parents and he refused. He gets sheer delight from being a bully. Particularly to women. And he won’t accept an apology. He expects you to grovel and do whatever he asks from that point on. I can’t do that. My husband comes first. Not him. So there was no way out of our situation unless I cut him off. But not without much prayer and careful thought.

  15. Hi Meg,
    It’s good that you have put your husband before your Dad since he wouldn’t respect your authority. It’s sad it had to come to cutting him off but I can understand.
    My husband and I have been trying to work things out with family from the beginning. He felt that He needed to honour his parents (mostly his Mother) which meant not having boundaries. He knows his Mother and sisters refuse to listen but was used to it. I tried to honour them as my in-laws even above my own family but it only ends up in dysfunction and joyful occasions spoiled. My family and friends refuse to come to anything due to the way my in-laws behave. The kinder I am, the more controlling they are and take advantage. In short it’s very stressful. I dont like them using our daughter either.
    I only see them when with my husband now, never alone due to the games. One of his sister’s didn’t like being told no so completely ignores us but overides our parenting. I tried to talk to her but she refused. I spent years showing them love but the control really affected our marriage. I dont like cutting people off and I don’t like conflict so it’s hard to keep the peace.

  16. As I heard Dave Ramsey once say, honouring your parents doesn’t mean putting up with their nasty behaviour towards you. Sometimes limiting contact can be the kindest thing you can do. But no one should have to put up with. You can lovingly inform them (you’re husband I meant. Although I’m sure he knows how to address them. ) That their behaviour is not ok. That it’s very damaging and it’s because you love them very much that it’s best if you pull away until their behaviour improves. But you will not be buying any of their tickets to go on a guilt trip. If they carry on and try and accuse you of being unloving, then calmly say I’m sorry you feel that way, but it’s because I love you that I refuse to participate in your bad behaviour. And leave it at that. I wouldn’t cut off completely at this point. They need an opportunity to redeem themselves. However I would continue to pray for them. And the situation. If it’s been a while and still no change. Then it might be best to cut ties completely. But never speak badly of them. Never stop praying for them. I hope it works out for you’re family.

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