A young adult guy came to the Porch with an important question – “is it OK for me to still hang out with my friends?” He had been in the worldly Dallas scene of drinking, partying, and womanizing, and recently gotten serious about his faith. We talked about whether he was more likely to be a positive influence on his friends in those situations, or if his friends were more likely to drag him down. Based on where he was, he made the tough – but wise and necessary – choice to move on from those friends and look for more positive influences in his life.
It’s bad advice to think that you shouldn't leave your friends behind if they’re dragging you down. In fact, you have to, or you’ll get dragged down too. But how should you choose whether to stick around or find new friends?
Your friends make a big part of who you are. God has a lot of wisdom to share on the type of people you should be doing life with. Here are three things He has to say:
The company you keep is stronger than the convictions you hold. No matter what you believe, if you consistently spend time in relationships with people who do not believe or live out those same things, you will be dragged down. Don’t be deceived – bad company corrupts good character (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Your friends determine who you are. If you show me your friends, I’ll show you your future. We are all the sum of the someone’s in our lives. If you spend time with people who are wise, you’ll grow wise. But if you spend time with fools, it won’t go well for you (Proverbs 13:20).
Friendships aren’t built by chance; they are built by choice. You have to choose well. People who want to follow God must choose their friends carefully, because hanging out with ungodly people leads you astray (Proverbs 12:26).
The crowd you’re running with matters. If it’s not the right one, you need to change your playground and your playmates. You should be looking for friends who love Jesus and don’t just check the box on their faith (Matthew 22:37), who encourage you to follow Jesus (Hebrews 3:13), and who share truth with you, even when it hurts (Proverbs 27:6).
Ask yourself questions like these: Are my friends wise or foolish people based on God’s definition? Are they walking with Christ? Do they encourage me in my relationship with Christ? Are they running from sin and towards righteousness? Am I a positive influence on them? Are they a positive influence on me?
The people you date, and the person you potentially marry, will have an incredible influence on you. They will lead you towards Christ or away from Him, towards temptation and sin or away from it, towards a healthy relationship or away from one. If you have children, they will also be profoundly influenced by this person. Would you want that person to be the mother/father of your kids?
So, what kind of things should you be looking for? Check these out:
Ask yourself questions like these: What do I value in a potential spouse? Do my decisions of who I’m interested in and pursuing actually reflect those values? Are my relationships marked by purity or impurity? Does my partner encourage me to be more like Jesus? What are my partner’s friends like?
Are you deeply connected to a local church? You should be. How are you choosing the church you’re at – like a cruise ship or like a battleship? For that to make sense, watch this short video (it’s a bit old school, but bear with me). The Bible says that your church leaders are watching over your soul (Hebrews 13:17) – you want to make absolutely sure that the right people are doing that! The mission, leadership, and people of the church will all have a profound influence on you. Don’t just make an app or a podcast your church, and don’t church-hop – get deeply connected in a Christ-exalting, Bible-teaching, community-focused local church.
Ask yourself questions like these: Am I choosing a church based on how comfortable it is, or based on its mission? What are the things that I value in a church? Am I a church-hopper / church-shopper? If I haven’t committed to a local church, why not? Do I trust the church’s leaders to be accountable for my soul?
If you’re looking for new friends who love Jesus, or looking for a church to connect with, we’d love to help you with this! At Watermark we offer community groups that connect you with other Christians who want to follow Jesus together. Reach out to us if you need help connecting!