This article was originally written in March of 2015 for Project Inspired, a website that encourages Christian teenage girls all over the world. Thank you for reading!
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
The Bible says there is a season for everything, and that includes certain friendships. Not everyone is meant to be your friend forever. There are a few telltale signs that the friend you have is there for life—or needs to stay out of your life.
We get so wrapped up in finding BFFs and simply wanting to fit in that we let a lot of things slide. We also let great people go when the relationship hits a rocky path. It’s important for anyone to have an inner circle they can trust, and how much more important is it for us Christians? We must surround ourselves with like-minded individuals and be the type of friend who will uphold our personal values.
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. (1 Peter 3:8)
When to let go…
I’m sure we’ve all wanted to be accepted into a clique that we thought had a blast together and looked amazing doing it as we stalked their Instagram account. (Oh, maybe that’s just me.) I’m not saying you have to avoid nonbelievers or throw holy water on someone who commits a sin. If their lifestyle includes constantly going against what God calls us to do, then it’s better to let them go as a close friend. I’ve seen this happen a lot when Christians first get saved: You don’t want your friends to think you’re too good for them all of a sudden, so you stick around and sometimes even backslide into the negative behaviors you used to do. If your friends respect your faith, they’ll understand if you need to distance yourself if they continue in an unrighteous lifestyle.
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
You’ve heard of the term “unequally yoked,” but most of you probably assume this only has to do with dating or marriage. That’s not exactly true. Although those will be your most intimate relationships, you have to apply that concept to every area of your life. Your BFF cannot be your BFF if she doesn’t see eye to-eye with your core values.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)
I know this is a brutal truth, but you really have to ask yourself why you would spend most of your quality time with someone who never has quality time with the Lord.
We treat others the way we want to be treated, so why is it that sometimes we don’t hold others up to that same responsibility? I find it especially true that Christians may think it’s the “holy” way to turn the other cheek and forgive someone 77 x 7 times. If someone is demeaning to you, is physically or verbally abusive to you, or forces you into shameful activity, it’s time to end your friendship. Abusive relationships may be the hardest to get away from because of the fear or loyalty you have associated with that person. Find a support group and have backup to help you make that difficult decision to let them go. God has much better in store for His beloved.
Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. (Romans 15:2)
When to hold on…
It’s common to “friend hop” when you have a rough season with someone. We’re always changing because God is constantly stretching and growing us. You might not like it when someone tells you about an ugly side to your personality, but if they are doing it to glorify God and help you, it’s time to listen. If what they say lines up with the Word, your Spirit will set off a “ding ding ding” and chances are it wasn’t the first time you heard it anyway.
There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)
This type of friend builds you up to be the individual God wants you to be, and they are willing to help you become that person.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. (Romans 12:15)
We are supposed to delight in each other’s joys and walk through the dark valleys with our friends, but it’s important to do this with those you trust. People in your life who have stayed with you, prayed with you and kept your personal conversations between the two of you are what make up your support group. Those friends are good for you because they don’t gossip behind your back or condemn you for faltering every once in a while. They’ll also rejoice over your praise reports when you’ve made it out on the other side instead of becoming jealous or competitive when something good happens to you.
How easy is it to hold on to things and create a record of wrongdoings to throw in someone’s face during every argument? If you’ve found a person who never hurts your feelings, never lies and never commits a sin, I’d love to meet them because they may be Jesus himself. Forgiveness (and repentance!) are key to moving forward and becoming closer with each other and to God. This friend is willing to start a clean slate in a healthy relationship and create a peaceful atmosphere for you both.
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. (Romans 14:19)
There are many more reasons to let go and reasons to hold on, but I hope this is a good start in helping you to do a relationship spring cleaning.