Dealing with Toxic People

Sunday afternoon in my Life Group we discussed toxic people. As someone who grew up in a family with toxic relationships with parents, I understand what it is like to deal with such situations. I love what Romans 16 says.

“I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.  For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” Romans 16

Dealing with toxic people in our lives can be quite troublesome. We can feel at odds with ourselves torn between our desire to be like Jesus and our need to watch out for ourselves and our welfare.

People can be toxic for a variety of reasons such as being abusive; whether physically, emotionally or mentally, or because of personality traits like being narcissistic. Family can be especially difficult if toxic because what do we do with family?

As Christians we can mistake letting ourselves be doormats and walked over with what it means to be loving. However, we are not called to be naive. We are called to be wise yet innocent, but not naive.

There are principles in the passage from Romans cited above. Notice that Paul writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote of divisive people- “Keep away from them.” Yes that is in context of the church, but there is a principle to take note of.

There may be times that we need to keep away from toxic people. We need to set boundaries.

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Yes we are to love them, but that might look more like continuing to pray for them while keeping away from them.

Dear reader if you have been abused, have been victimized by a game player who will not change, or any other situation that is toxic, you do not need to be a doormat. Pray for them yes. Forgive and give them to God yes. But you do not have to be a doormat. It is okay to set boundaries and if those boundaries mean keeping your distance, then it is okay.

I felt I should share these thoughts because I do have followers of my blog who have been victimized, who deal with anxiety and depression, who have been abused.

Sometimes seeking counseling to help with setting boundaries can be beneficial. It can also help to have a few trusted friends to keep you accountable in maintaining boundaries.

I write this as a former doormat who learned to not be a doormat. I hope this post helps others who are dealing with toxic people. I want to leave you with a thought from a book that struck me and freed me up when I read it a long time ago. The book is Released From Shame:

“God knows it is not your fault”

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

25 thoughts on “Dealing with Toxic People

  1. I’m so glad you have written and shared this Matt because recently I became a victim of someone who has lied and gossiped about me on their blog and on other people’s blogs too.
    As a Christian, it’s often difficult to speak up and defend yourself in case it comes across as being unloving. Your post has given me comfort that someone else understands. Thank you.

    1. I’m super sad this happened to your Lesley…I deeply hurt for you knowing what this is like. I’m glad for this article. And it does give comfort.

      Love in Christ

      1. Thank you so much Ian. Matt’s writing has helped as also has the love and care of my brothers and sisters in Christ, such as yourself. I’ve been feeling so much more at peace about it this past week. Answered prayers! 💞

  2. Thank you so much for this. God just spoke through you! I am battling how to deal with my step son who has evil inside him and there is nothing we can do for him. Yet I have to live under the same roof and my other children are around him. Thank you so much for this!

  3. This is a really great article, thanks! I’ve learned more about setting boundaries in recent years and being responsible about who I’m allowing in my personal space. I’ve even had to end a couple of unhealthy relationships over the last couple of years.

    It’s true that being a Christian doesn’t mean you have to let people walk over you.

  4. I agree with you. Boundaries are important. It’s okay to be a peaceful person but it’s not okay to keep peace stealers around.

  5. This is a wonderful post. Some times we have to deal with toxic people and it is good to know that we can keep away from them. God understands our limitations. Thank you for sharing.

  6. I love that you wrote this because I struggle deeply with this. Where is that line from loving like Jesus, but keeping away from evil?? And yes, a lot of family is involved. Thank you so much for this!!

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