The entire family seemed to be sick all of the time. They coughed, felt something in their chests, were lethargic, and losing strength week by week. Fearing that something was terribly wrong, the family, then living in the Philippines where doctors are very much on top of tropical diseases, packed up and returned to the U.S. Doctors there were just as puzzled.
Finally, they sent the family to toxicologists at UCLA’s School of Medicine. Attacking the problem like criminal detectives, the doctors wanted to know everything about their lifestyle. Finally, the evidence pointed to poison, a toxic substance that was gradually taking their lives. But where did it come from? Who was striving to poison them? And how did it get into their food, water, or what?
Finally, the toxicologist determined that this toxic poison was what was used in killing cockroaches, ants, and mites. “Did you ever use this in your home?” he finally asked. And then as the mother’s brain whirled like a computer searching for data, it came together. She knew what had happened.
Every night after the children went to bed, the mother went through the entire house spraying insect poison in every room. Yes, she killed the mosquitoes, the cockroaches, and whatever else crawled or crept, and she almost killed her entire family.
Toxic substances have increased in quantum proportions since the end of World War II as industrialization has churned out more waste, polluted more air, sprayed more chemicals on your food, and dumped more waste products into rivers that become drinking water a few miles downstream.
What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 1:13
It is not uncommon at all to safety workers in white protective gear in a news story, looking like astronauts preparing for a moonwalk, breathing apparatus in place, striving to remove some radioactive substance or pollutant that jeopardizes the public. Chances are you’ve seen the toxic symbol—three black symbols against a bright yellow background.
Our word toxic comes from the Latin word toxicum that means “poison.” It was related to the word that ancient Greeks used for a bow and arrow. Today, however, we are confronted with toxic substances that the ancients never even thought possible. The word is applied to far more than chemicals that are sprayed on your vegetables to prevent their being eaten by insects, mites, and pathogens. The adjective toxic can also be applied to religion, to your thinking, to friendships that have gone bad—even to your marriage that is slowly dying.
When the family that I told you about a few minutes ago began to be poisoned by a toxic ingredient in the insect spray bought in a supermarket or hardware store, there were recognizable symptoms that something was wrong.
Today’s devotional is the first in a series that focuses on the toxicity of our relationships, our world, friendships, marriage, and our thinking. The fact is, friend, that far more is polluted today than your water and food. Life has become toxic, and when you don’t recognize the symptoms and know how to fight the toxicity of our age, you slowly become a victim just as surely as the family who grew weaker and weaker from the insect poison but didn’t know how to fight back.
As surprising as it may seem to you, the Bible has a lot to say about toxicity in our relationships and our faith. Never embracing a “believe whatever you want,” or “embrace the God within you,” or “do the best you can under the circumstances,” the Bible gives clear direction about what is to be embraced and what is to be rejected as being toxic that can destroy you. It’s up to you to decide what is toxic and what is pure.
Resource reading: 1 Samuel 26:1-25