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Toxic People

Toxic People

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?  Galatians 5:7

When I think of toxic people, I think of those who are profoundly difficult in every interaction, creating conflict wherever they go. When I’m forced to spend time with them, I don’t enjoy it and if I can avoid them, I will. They may cause me frustration, and, in my frustration, I may not always respond well, but generally, those whom I consider toxic don’t tempt me to return to my old life.

There are, however, others, whom I wouldn’t consider to be difficult people, who may be far more toxic to my faith and recovery. There are those people whom I very much like, but whose lives are going in a very different direction than I want mine to go. If I spend time with them, whether I like it or not, they influence my behavior.

Evil doesn’t tempt us with something painful. Evil tempts us with that which is attractive to us. Eve wasn’t tempted to poke herself in the eye with a stick. That’s ridiculous. She was tempted with an apple, which looked delicious. Likewise, we’re not often tempted by those we don’t like. We’re tempted by those whom we very much like.

The one struggling with recovery is at most danger, not from those he dislikes, but rather from his friends who still use or drink. They’re not his enemies. He loves them. Yet, if he spends time with them, he’s heavily influenced by them and will likely return to the old life with them.

This was Paul’s warning in today’s passage. In it, he asked the Galatians who it was that turned them from following the path of truth. Like the Galatians, this is something we should ask ourselves. Who distracts me from the life I truly want?

Often, if we’re honest, we’ll see that it’s not those we dislike, but rather, those we very much like, who encourage us to return to alcohol, drugs, lust, inappropriate relationships, resentments, greed, bigotry, gluttony, gossip, or simply being judgmental. We don’t sit around mocking others with our enemies. We do it with our friends.

This is why it’s so important to purposefully spend time with those whose lives are going in the same direction we want ours to go. Often, we may have to cut certain people out of our lives. This is rarely easy or painless. If however, we want to know the life for which we were made, then we may have to avoid those who would lead us away from it. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?

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