Choosing friends is not an easy task. Who we hang out with has more of an impact on our lives than we can possibly imagine. Several times in the past couple of years, I have found the need to instruct my teenagers how to determine if someone is worthy of friendship. “Your friends will bring out the good within you. When someone brings out the bad in you, you have probably made the wrong choice.” As I begin to think on this, I realize it goes for me too. As an adult, if someone brings out the immoral, corrupt and sinful qualities in me, then I really shouldn’t spend time with them. After all, the bible tells us in Matthew 18:7-9:
Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.
Before you get your knife out, let’s talk these verses over. Basically what Matthew is depicting is sin can only be stopped if we stop the relationship or thing that is causing the behavior. For instance, if you are spending time with someone who makes you feel depressed, exhausted, sinful or unhappy; then stop the relationship. As we age, I think we get better about determining these toxic relationships. Just by making mistakes in my own life (over and over again), I realized that I needed God’s help in my friendship department. It was at about this point that I went on a weekend retreat at my church with 18 other women. What a weekend! We were surrounded by Christ all weekend. No kids to feed. No husbands to care for. No household chores. Just me, God and a few other women. We all found that our faith was the highlight of the weekend. For the first time, in many of our lives, we placed God above everything else. I am not kidding – nothing got in the way of God that weekend. We spent time in prayer, hearing life testimonies and talking about God’s blessings. It was pure peace.
After the weekend, I found that these women were some of the few people in my life that I could just talk about my faith with. We met consistently and God guided us during those meetings. For the first time in my life, I found true friendship (outside of my marriage). Women who really had one thing in common: the Love of the Lord. These women are still (6 years later) my Rock. When I need prayers, I contact them. When I need help being a better person, they show me how. When I need to be reminded that God loves me where I am, they are His voice.
Friendships can help you find time for God in your life. Don’t take it casually that who you hang out with is who you become. Don’t let life pass you by without finding friends that make you a better person. So if you are in the midst of a toxic friendship – do as the verse says – cut it off. I know it sounds harsh, but if your friend is not willing to change her ways, you must change yours. You need people who will lift you up in life, not bring you down. After all, when you are face to face with God, you will have to take responsibility for your own sinful behavior.