Evil doesn’t always come sporting a goatee & carrying a pitchfork. It doesn’t always present itself with malice. It can use words of love, faith, proper authority, and even scripture. But evil always destroys. Sometimes quickly sometimes slowly, but eventually it takes its toll. Gary Thomas shared those words in his new book When To Walk Away; Finding Freedom From Toxic People. Watch the trailer below and we’ll talk after…
I’m very pleased that a well-respected man of the Christian faith wrote a book with such a bold title; When To Walk Away. There comes a time in all of our lives when we need to walk away, however, walking away is not taught in Christian circles. In my experience, Christians are notorious for telling you to stay. You’re a “good Christian if you stay in a toxic relationship and try to work it out and a “bad” Christian or not a Christian at all when you leave. Unfortunately, your Christian faith can be used against you and the Bible can be used to manipulate and control. You hear things like:
In When To Walk Away, Gary asks, “Have you ever counted how many times Jesus walked away from toxic people or let toxic people walk away from him?” Jesus walked away from others (or let others walk away from him) more than two dozen times in the four gospels. He let himself be tortured and crucified once but there were many occasions before that when he “slipped away” from those who wanted to hurt him:
“At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.” John 8:59
“Again, they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp. Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. John 10:39-40
“But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place.” Matthew 12:14-15
He also taught his disciples to do likewise:
“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” Matthew 10:14
“When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.” Matthew 10:23
Being a “good Christian” doesn’t mean staying in toxic environments. It doesn’t mean chasing and trying to fix every relationship that walks away from you. Here’s more from Gary about how toxic people operate:
Nothing matters more to a true Christian than pleasing God, because the Holy Spirit within us inclines our hearts to value God’s opinion more than anyone else’s. We don’t obey God primarily out of fear of his wrath or the desire to avoid hell; we love him and want to please him because he is the delight of our souls.
Toxic people diabolically perceive this and often use it as a weapon to wound the faithful. Because they know how much healthy Christians want to please God, in order to get their way, they try to twist our affection to manipulate us. One of their most common critiques which itself is toxic and evil is to question our faith: “Aren’t Christians supposed to forgive? How come you’re not acting like a Christian?”
They really don’t care if we’re acting like a Christian though. They just want us to do what they want us to do and they’re using our faith as a weapon to manipulate and control. I’ve seen this time and time again. It’s a favorite ploy for many toxic people, so let’s get this out in the open.
Toxic people are masters at lecturing Christians over how they are “supposed” to behave. Even though they may have never acted like a Christian themselves, they love to hold Christians to the way they assume Christians are supposed to act. Their entire “Bible” has fifteen words: “Forgive as God has forgiven you, and judge not or you too will be judged.” Don’t fall for the bait when someone says you’re not “acting like a Christian.” Seek counsel from someone who is actually following Christ.
Toxic people will try to make the problem about how you’re reacting to their toxicity rather than their toxicity itself. Don’t take the bait.
In a recent message titled Defeating Giants, my pastor quoted Matthew 10:36 then said, “I want to say to someone today…your family….you gotta shake it off. I mean respect them but don’t always listen to your family. Families can be wack am I correct? They can go totally off and take you away from what God’s purpose is for your life.” And that’s why we walk away. Because God has a purpose for our lives. A mission for us to complete. A call for us to answer. How can we answer the call if we’re stuck in toxicity?
Something to think about…
What say you? What are your thoughts on walking away? Have you ever had to walk away?
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