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What does Scripture have to say about the 'Toxic'?

 


As Christians in this world we will have to deal with wicked people which are often referred to in our culture as "toxic." 

Toxic people can be found at your workplace, in your neighborhood, as part of your church and even in your family. How do we as Christians with a high set of standards deal with these tormented souls?

Let's take a look at Scripture and see what insight we can glean from the Author and Finisher of our faith.

Psalm 37 (KJV) tells us what the end of the wicked (or toxic) is and how God deals with them. Please also notice that we're instructed not to fret or worry about them, but instead to rest in the Lord for He sees what they do and will avenge His people: 

Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.
For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.
But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.
The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.
The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.
Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.
A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.
For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the Lord upholdeth the righteous.
The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever.
They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.
The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.
For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.
I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.
Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore.
For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.
The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.
The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.
The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him.
The Lord will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged.
Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.
I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.
Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.
Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off.
But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: he is their strength in the time of trouble.
And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.

In 1 Corinthians, chapter 5,  the Apostle Paul gives the church these instructions for dealing with the  unrepentant (or toxic):

1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.
2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,
4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
5 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.
6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
10 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.
11 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.
12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

And in Ephesians, chapter 6, we are reminded that our battles on this earth are spiritual:

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

And let us not forget these words of God from 2 Peter, chapter 3:

7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

It's hard for us to understand why God doesn't immediately strike the wicked down, but is often  longsuffering and patient toward them so they might repent. You can read about God's longsuffering  toward the wicked at Pastor Shane Lems blog The Reformed ReaderGod’s Incredible Patience with the Wicked – The Reformed Reader Blog (wordpress.com) 

I recently read the article "Being Merciful to the Toxic" by David Petersen, posted at The Lutheran Witness which gives this instruction for Christians when dealing with toxic people in their lives:

Christ calls us to love our enemies, to act with mercy. We should not as a knee-jerk reaction insist on our rights. We yield to the weak in faith and attempt to win a brother. There is a sense, however, in which that mercy has limits. Jesus does not command that we suffer abuse and injustice passively. He does not teach that our forgiveness means we completely forget what has been done to us nor does it eliminate boundaries. Stewards guard their resources to fulfill their vocations.

Boundaries with the toxic

There are times when Christians need to set extreme boundaries for their relationships and there can even be times to separate from others. Jesus instructs us to separate from those who refuse to hear godly rebuke from the church and amend their ways (Matt. 18:17). They aren’t to be indulged forever. Jesus commands us to leave those who won’t hear His Word (Matt. 10:14), to be shrewd as serpents in the world (Matt. 10:16) and even not to love father and mother above Him (Matt. 10:37). In a similar way, St. Paul warns Timothy that some wicked people might claim to be learning, but if they never come to any actual knowledge and continue in their wickedness, they are liars who resist the truth. Timothy is to have nothing to do with them (2 Tim. 3:2–9).

You can read the entire article here: Being Merciful to the Toxic – The Lutheran Witness (lcms.org)

If you are dealing with toxic family members, I recommend reading this book which is written from a Christian viewpoint: Surviving Toxic Parents: Dealing with toxic parents in a Christian way - Kindle edition by Finch, Carola. @ Amazon.com.

I pray you will find comfort and instruction in God's Word as you navigate this world full of toxic people. It seems as though their number is increasing, and while we hope and pray for them to become new creations in Christ, we are not left without help or instruction from our Heavenly Father who sees the harm they do.  

May God comfort and encourage you. 

In Lord Jesus' Name I pray, amen.

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