Dr. Dianne Coflin
River of Life Church
It’s hard to believe how extremely toxic people in our society have become in just a few short months. In January, everyone was excited about the new year and what that would mean for us and our families, our churches, and our nation! With the many challenges that came with this new year, people have lost hope, dreams were crushed, finances ruined, and some have become depressed not realizing that they may be in a storm, but the storm does not need to be in them.
What do I mean by toxic people? “Often the person is deeply wounded and for whatever reason, they are not yet able to take responsibility for their wounding, their feelings, their needs, and their subsequent problems in life.” M.Tartakovsky
I love how the word of God is always relevant and timeless. God knew how toxic people would become who didn’t follow his design. Without a relationship with God, they would unknowingly become toxic! You see, God’s word has the ability to train us, instruct us, and help us to think like He thinks instead of succumbing to this world’s system of doing things.
Hebrews 12:14 (AMP.) tells us to “Strive to live in peace” with everybody. In this day and age, that certainly is a concept that has been completely put aside or never learned. The word strive means to seek after, earnestly pursue, and endeavor to acquire. This implies a strong effort. This sounds like God has a major priority in asking us to do this in our relationships.
You might say, “Oh but you don’t know what and who I am dealing with?” Did you know that God didn’t add any clause on the end of that scripture that would entitle us to be justified or disobey this advice? His requirement for us is STILL that we need to pursue peace with EVERYONE! I think God knew there would be people that would be hard to get along with. People who are hurtful and have been so hurt by others that their entire lives have become toxic. So WHY the advice? Was God trying to punish us with such strong words or does He know that there is more at stake than our personal challenges with toxic people?
In Hebrews 12:15, the Bible says…
“Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace (His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing), in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many become contaminated and defiled by it!”
Do you see a connection here, how not striving to live in peace with everyone can result in such toxicity it will contaminate and defile many, many, people? The reason His advice was so serious is revealed right there in that verse. God never wanted us to fail to obtain His grace (His help, His favor, His ability beyond our ability). God’s word is timeless and was written to us as a personal letter of instruction because He loved us and wanted us to be blessed! This is why He forewarned us and yes even asked us to be on the watch (look after one another) so that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness or hatred) would spring up and hurt others.
How can you tell when a root of bitterness has sprung up? If someone carries with them a root of bitterness, it doesn’t take long for that offense to show up in their conversation and actions, defiling everyone in their path because their contamination is toxic to everyone they come in contact with.
How can I avoid such pitfalls?
Here are a few reminders from the book of Ephesians 4:17-31 TLB
“Let me say this, then, speaking for the Lord: live no longer as the unsaved do, for they are blinded and confused. Their closed hearts are full of darkness; they are far away from the life of God because they have shut their minds against him, and they cannot understand his ways. They don’t care anymore about right and wrong and have given themselves over to impure ways. They stop at nothing, being driven by their evil minds and reckless lusts.
But that isn’t the way Christ taught you! If you have really heard his voice and learned from him the truths concerning himself, then throw off your old evil nature—the old you that was a partner in your evil ways—rotten through and through, full of lust and sham.
Now your attitudes and thoughts must all be constantly changing for the better. Yes, you must be a new and different person, holy and good. Clothe yourself with this new nature.
Stop lying to each other; tell the truth, for we are parts of each other and when we lie to each other we are hurting ourselves. If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry—get over it quickly; for when you are angry, you give a mighty foothold to the devil.
If anyone is stealing, he must stop it and begin using those hands of his for honest work so he can give to others in need. Don’t use bad language. Say only what is good and helpful to those you are talking to, and what will give them a blessing.
Don’t cause the Holy Spirit sorrow by the way you live or speak. Remember, he is the one who marks you to be present on that day when salvation from sin will be complete.
Stop being mean, bad-tempered, and angry. Quarreling, harsh words, and dislike of others should have no place in your lives. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ.”
God’s plan was that we always followed His guidance. He never wanted us to fail to obtain the grace, the ability we receive from Him to live free of strife. Apparently, we can position ourselves to fail and succumb to deep roots of bitterness in our hearts that will bring us into captivity. The thing about roots is that they can grow deep, and if you only remove some of the root, it will come back again and again much stronger than at first.
God’s love is always reaching out to us, and His offer to heal our hearts and help us to forgive is always available.
I close with this scripture.
Matthew 11:28-30 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.”
Dr. Dianne Coflin, Co-Pastor River of Life Church, 410 East Chapman Road, Lutz Florida. Service times 10:30 Sunday morning and 7:00 Wednesday evening. We would love to have you visit us!!