2019 – The year of cutting off ‘toxic people’…
Note: This article has been sitting in the drafts since the beginning of the year. Well, February 13th is still the beginning of the year and so why not? Indulge!
Lately, social media (at least my timeline) has been awash with victims. Victims of hurt, disappointment, and contempt from other people. We began the year with a meme of a house help who may not have returned to the employer’s house in the new year because she was cutting off ‘toxic people’. As I edit this article, I have searched for ‘toxic people’ on twitter and there were so many tweets warning of associating with ‘toxic people’. It almost looks like cutting off people who wronged you is the ‘in thing’. We have been made to believe that people have to treat you well and when they don’t, we snap and take it online, and also completely dissociate ourselves with them. Sadly, Christians have not been left behind. Examining this deeply we shall see how this is narcissistic, ungodly, and immature to the core.
I do not in any way underestimate the extent of people’s wounds. But we have also wounded others as well. We live in an imperfect world. Even the best of believers are imperfect and together with creation we groan as we await the day of glorification. It is in the human nature to disappoint and wrong one another. It is the sin we await to be rid of when we see our Savior on that day. For the Christian, we delight and trust in our perfect Savior who is divine and unlike any other man. In case you were ever hurt by anyone, look to Him!
We may never get a restitution for all the offenses committed against us. Jesus instructed us not to expect it. Instead He said, “To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.” This is loving your enemies and doing good to those who persecute you. (Luke 6:29)
The ‘cutting off toxic’ people talk is unnecessary. More often than not, social media whines are directed at someone. When you pen down a post about toxic people in your life, or generally describing the short comings of people, you most likely have someone in mind. Isn’t it a display of maturity to approach the one who wronged you and solve your conflict? Jesus had something to say about how you should handle a brother who has offended you – If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17) I’m pretty sure these instructions have most of the times been ignored and hence the many whines.
The Bible instructs us to let our speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that we may know how we ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:6) Openly spewing venom against someone who wronged you is definitely not a measure of gracious speech. It is unkind and defaming to the other person. It is not ‘treating others as you would want to be treated.’
Most times, the reason why we take the position of a victim is because we are proud. We do not recognize that we have offended a perfect Savior yet we have been forgiven. Even worse, our self-righteousness blurs us from seeing the sin in us, even in the very situation where we are not faultless.
The command to forgive one another is explicit in the Bible. Jesus taught forgiveness clearly. He also demonstrated to us forgiveness by taking upon Himself the wrath that we rightfully deserved. Like the ungrateful servant, we have been forgiven yet put our fellow brothers who wrong us to jail for the debt they owe us.
There is a kind of feeling that presses you to let out your disappointment on social media. Most of the times it is normally a feeling that craves for approval and acceptance. It is a pity party that wants the audience on social media to sympathize with you. As a believer, this is craving for human approval, all the while knowing the promises of Christ in His word – He is our Savior and comfort, whose only approval matters. Even worse, it is a form of idolatry where self worship drives you to want all others to also bow to you.
We need to look to our Savior in light of being the offender and Him the offended. Our sin is toxic to His holiness, yet died for us while we were still sinners. He loved us, His enemies, and gave Himself for us. He did not cut off the toxic people, but continually cleans and sanctifies their toxic sin. More to Christ being and example on handling offence, lets look to Him as the Savior whom we have Believed and is able to work on our unbelief and overlook offence in love that covers a multitude of sin.
Charles Spurgeon, the great 19th century speaker, said, “He who grows in grace remembers that he is but dust, and he therefore does not expect his fellow Christians to be anything more. He overlooks ten thousand of their faults, because he knows his God overlooks twenty thousand in his own case. He does not expect perfection in the creature, and, therefore, he is not disappointed when he does not find it.” This is a great reminder to everyone who offends or feels offended.