12 A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth.
13 He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers;
14 Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord.
15 Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.
When I read this, I think about people who like to stir up problems, and they do it so well it is as if they put their whole self into it.
I’ve known people who seem to be this way.
I’ve known some who seem as if they are so used to a life of conflict that they cannot handle times of peace. So, whether consciously or subconsciously, they tend to cause chaos when things are going well.
I’ve known some who sew conflict between people simply because they have no ability to have real connection with people, so they despise the genuine relationships of others.
I’ve known some who slander others or gossip because it makes them feel superior, and they must remain the best in the eyes of everyone around them (at least in their mind).
I’ve known some who cannot come to terms with their sinful nature, so they project their faults onto others.
I’ve known some who are so consumed with hatred that they must have an enemy at all times, so if they make peace with one person, they shift focus to a new target.
There are people in this world who are so full of resentment, envy, pride, and contempt that they become toxic for other people.
How should a Christian handle such a person?
I think the most important thing is to remember grace. Any good thing we possess within our character came from God. If we think we are any better, we first remember that grace is what separates us.
We can also consider the deeper reasons behind a person’s toxic nature. Maybe we can relate to some of the behaviors. Maybe we have done similar things in one way or another.
In any case, humility and compassion frees us from being consumed by the negativity of others and helps us to forgive.
Does forgiveness mean continued relationship? No. Sometimes it is best to walk away from people. Sometimes you walk away because they will not admit to their faults, and they consistently cause problems for other people. Sometimes you walk away because they are Christians, but they have a tendency to abuse the forgiveness of God when dealing with their own sins yet they are merciless towards others.
Sometimes you cannot escape. Maybe you are an older child living with a toxic parent. Maybe you are stuck in a toxic work environment. Maybe you have a toxic spouse and you cannot leave. Maybe you are dealing with a friend or family member and you don’t have it in you to hurt them, no matter how much they have hurt you and others.
People are complicated. Relationships are complicated. We should do our best to be at peace with everyone as much as it is possible, but sometimes peace cannot be had.
There is a time to get away from damaging people, but we should not allow hatred to consume us. We should pray for them, have pity on them, and hope that God will open their hearts.
Toxic people are bred by other toxic people, and if we are not mindful, we might become the toxic person.
We should not let toxicity consume us, and no matter what situation we find ourselves in Jesus will make a way. He will make a way for us to escape, either literally or in heart. He will deal with our adversaries. Vengeance is His. However, it is better to hope for His mercy than to hope for His vengeance.
If we enjoy the destruction of others, we might find the critical eye of the Lord looking at us instead of at our enemies. His gaze is piercing, and you want that gaze to be merciful. Therefore, we must always remember mercy and hope the best for others no matter how toxic they are.
We can apply this to individuals, groups, social movements, and even issues within the Christian church. In whatever capacity, we deal with these matters by putting on the full armor of God, knowing that we do not “wrestle with flesh and blood.”
We do not fight people. We fight the destruction that binds them and harms others. We fight destructive ideas and lies. We attempt to find the source of problems, such as deep wounds a person caries and bring the healing ways of Jesus to those who will receive it. In so doing, Jesus is honored and the person is restored.
There are many who do not want to receive Jesus and the freedom He brings. Many are so attached to ideas, lies, and sin in general that they become one with such things. In such cases it becomes nearly impossible to fight in spirit without destroying the person.
I know I’ve had sins and matters of my nature that are so deeply rooted in my being that it feels impossible to fight the issue without destroying myself. So, find compassion in such cases, and maybe walking away is the best thing to do. Jesus will handle it.
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;
What about myself? I have a long way to go in dealing with destructive people (of course, I mean those of an extreme variety. We are all destructive in greater and lesser measure).
I do not like when I see someone hurting others while refusing to admit to their own wrongs. I can become all-out irate and ready to fight such a person, and I make it personal instead of dealing with the deeper issue in spirit. I can forget all mercy and patience.
I can become so full of negativity that my own personality shifts when I’m around certain people, and that is not good. I need to trust in Jesus more. I need more compassion and mercy. I need more humility, knowing that I have been toxic too at points in my life and I still need Jesus to work on me.
It is always more productive when I focus on my personal goals of growth in Jesus than it is to focus on the faults of others.
Even so, there is a time to speak up, especially when others are being harmed. However, in speaking out or taking some other action, we must care for our spiritual state first, putting on the full armor of God so that we are not consumed by the forces we fight against—all the while mindful that we do not fight in the flesh but in the spirit.