I must have heard it over a hundred times in the past year, “You need to get rid of the toxic people in your life.” There are numerous sermons and YouTube videos about separating yourself from people, finding new friends, cutting the cord, etc. A lot of different ways to say, “eliminate people that discourage or drain you.” I get it. One thing as a pastor I understand is that people can be incredibly draining, and yes, Jesus often removed himself from others….to pray.(Lk 5:16) Quiet possibly to pray that He would have the strength to love the object of his assignment: People. You know what I cannot find Jesus doing? Writing people off because they were doubting, discouraging, draining, disappointing, deceiving, and denouncing. Jesus loved till the end. He is the model. I understand we live in an age where the goal is self-preservation, but following Christ is about being light, bringing hope, and loving like He loves. A love that lays itself down.(Jn 15:13) If it’s always comfortable and always easy, then what has it cost us to love? I mean, how effective is a candle in a well lit room? Remember Judas? Jesus knew he was a back-stabbing sell out, but He loved him till the end. Remember, Thomas? How about Peter, one of Jesus’ core group of guys. Jesus continued to invest in him, knowing he made a fool of himself time after time. Jesus even knew he would deny Him? So what did Jesus do with Peter? He invested in him, and in return Peter lead a movement for Christ that turned the known world upside down(Acts 17:6). Peter eventually got it together because he was invested in and believed in.
So how do we handle the difficult people in our life?
Here are a few ways we follow Jesus when there are difficult people in our lives.
#1. Pray for them.
One of the ways that God gives us a heart for people and turns our heart towards people is in the place of prayer. Don't pray “about them” pray for them, and watch God transform your heart. Maybe the “toxic people” are not the problem, maybe it’s your attitude towards them.
#2. Invest in them.
#3. Manage the relationship.
Beloved, let’s love like Jesus loves and watch the potential of others unfold before our eyes.