Should you still be friends with someone who negatively influences you?

Should you still be friends with someone who negatively influences you?
You will not like my answer to this question. It is: no. Before I go on, I want to add some caveats. I do not mean that you completely cut the person off and ignore them as if they do not exist. I also do not mean to imply that someone who is a bad influence is a lost cause and can never change. What I mean is simply this, if someone is causing you to stumble and have negative experiences, you should no longer devote your time and energy to them. You can still be polite and address them in public, but you do not need to be their best friend.

In 1 Corinthians 15:33 it says, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.'” If you continue to associate yourself with the person you will start to compromise your values and beliefs. Do not be fooled into thinking you are strong enough to resist. Be honest with yourself, when you are friends with someone you care about their opinion of you. You pour out your heart to them, they are important to you. You will naturally want to please them. Continuing to be friends with them without being influenced is impossible. However, you are still called to love that person, as in John 13:34, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

What does this mean? It means that you continue to respect the person. You do not gossip or defame them behind their back. You are polite to them. You tell them the truth. If they ask you why you don’t want to hang out with them anymore, take them aside so it is just you and them. In a gentle way, explain the situation. Tell them that there are certain actions/behaviors that they do that you do not feel is honoring to God. Explain, that while you enjoy their company in other circumstances, you do not feel comfortable around them when they engage in those behaviors, and for that reason you no longer want to spend time with them outside of the usual school related encounters.

Matthew 5: 44
“But I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

The above verse is important because you need to pray for this person. They are broken and need love just like you. Pray that God would soften their heart and reveal Himself to them. Also, you should expect the person to react negatively when you tell them you do not want to “hang out” anymore. Do not be surprised by this. So many kids are afraid of this reaction. It is normal; how would you feel if the situation was reversed? If you lost a friend, even if that friend was polite and respectful, you would probably be very upset. How do you think you would treat that friend when you saw them next? Your heart is telling you the answer.

Your “friend” will first be upset with you and second probably try to guilt you into still being their friend. Third, and this is the part that stinks, they will probably bad mouth you to others. They will “persecute you.” Why, because they are hurt and insecure and know in the bottom of your heart that you are right. When you are hurt you lash out. That is why you have to continue to treat them with respect and pray for them. Know that your reputation will be made evident by your actions not by someone’s tongue.

1 thought on “Should you still be friends with someone who negatively influences you?”

  1. This is so good! People do not hear this enough and end up forfeiting the peace that comes through making wise choices. Limiting a relationship can be one of the most loving things we can do for another person. This post shows that beautifully!

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