How to Deal with Toxic People

Caitlyn ScaggsBy Caitlyn Scaggs4 Minutes

Difficult people are undoubtedly a draining part of life! Some difficult people move beyond being simply annoying and can be described as toxic. Toxic people can poison relationships and bring destruction in their wake. It is important that followers of Jesus consider the best approach for dealing with toxic people.

First, we need to remember that Jesus spoke very clearly about love being “the greatest of all” (1 Corinthians 13:13). When He stated that it is the greatest, He didn’t offer any loopholes for when we are dealing with toxic people. In fact, Jesus spoke extensively about how important it is to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). This means we need to carefully consider how we approach and love toxic people, consistent with the love described by Jesus.

Wash Them in Prayer

Jesus gave us the recipe for how we can deal with toxic people — we can pray for them. That allows us to have physical and relational space, if needed. At the same time, it still honors that they were fearfully and wonderfully made by God. Everyone is broken by sin and instead of washing our hands of toxic people, we can wash them in prayer.

Exercise Wisdom

Loving difficult people and praying for those who persecute us can also be done in lockstep with wisdom. Boundaries that promote emotional and physical health within all relationships are wise! You do not need to be a doormat to be living in alignment with the command to love your enemy. Pray for guidance as to how you can love well while also ensuring safeguards in the relationship. Do not allow yourself to join a toxic person in their unhealthy ways (Proverbs 26:4). You can love deeply while still keeping yourself emotionally and physically safe and not slipping into toxic habits.

We’ve All Fallen Short

We must all be careful to not become so prideful that we forget we can all be “toxic.” Scripture is clear that we have all fallen short of the glory of God, we are all sinful (Romans 3:23) and sin is the most toxic condition of all — eternally toxic without Jesus! Let’s not forget that we’ve been extended grace upon grace from the Lord despite our own significant shortcomings. This important perspective can help us see toxic people differently and will ensure that we have an accurate self-assessment of our own need for forgiveness, grace, and understanding.

For God So Loved the World

God deeply loves our world and everyone in it — to include toxic people. Do not let yourself get distracted by this important reality. When you find yourself wanting to judge a difficult person or slip into a place of resentment, submit those feelings to God. He is listening and makes Himself available to you! He can also handle all your feelings, even the really big ones.

Call upon the Lord to help you see the toxic person differently, ask Him to soften your heart to see them with His eyes. Remember that God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son to die for us, so that we may have eternal life — He did this for you, He did this for me, and He did this for toxic people, too!