They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s; the poison of vipers is on their lips. (Psalm 140: 3)
Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good character. ( I Corinthians 15: 33)
“Toxic” is defined by Merriam-Webster online dictionary as, “containing or being poisonous material, especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation.” Note that toxicity happens when poison and serious harm are present. Also pay attention to the idea that the toxic liquid doesn’t have to be made up completely of the poison. It just has to contain enough of a toxic material to be dangerous and even deadly.
Right now, I’d be willing to bet that practically every person reading this message has experienced either has a past or current person who is toxic for you. That individual may look good, smell good, and sound good – but that does not remove the danger. Such a fellow may have some very admirable qualities. That gal may have done some helpful things for you, maybe even over-the-top “helpful.” But if, when you hang around a bit, those actions have poison hooks in them – run like the wind!
“But deep down, I see some good in him.”
“I think she means well. But the truth is, she drives me crazy. Somehow, she brings out the worst in me.”
“I believe he’s sorry this time. I know he’s said that before – well, a few times before. But this time seems different.”
Listen, I’m all about helping people. I embrace second (and third) chances. (So does God.) Jesus said that we’re to forgive over and over. Check, check, check!
However, if relating with her is killing you, maybe it’s time to put some distance there. You can forgive in a spiritual transaction with God without opening yourself up to an individual whose attitudes and actions are poison and who refuses to change. When he has made the same promises over and over, only to keep on hurting you and tearing you down – maybe it’s time to pray for him from afar. When your attempts to influence that person for good are falling flat, and instead you find yourself changing in a negative directions – stop it! When she refuses to show any respect for your values and wishes, respect yourself enough to set boundaries.
Setting limits with folks can be tough for us empathetic, helping types. However, if we’re going to survive to keep making a difference to those who truly want their lives to be better or to those God’s assigned us to mentor, we sometimes have to say “no” to an individual who has no such goal.
Lord, give me discernment so that I can see through manipulation and control. Grant me the courage to say no and to stick to it when an individual is being used for my destruction. I choose the self-worth and self-respect that You made possible for me. This one is hard sometimes, Lord! Please help me!