Bad Apples in the Barrel
Bible Reading: 2 Timothy 3:2-5
Bad company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33, NASB).
“My parents are always ripping into my friends,” Hailey burned. “They say I shouldn't hang out with ‘those kind of people.’ I know my friends aren't perfect. But plenty of my parents’ friends are a mess-and they still get together. It’s like my dad and mom think I’m a four-year-old.”
Ever had your parents clamp on you because of people you chum with?
Here’s what is likely happening. Parents don’t just look at what your friends are like right now. They try hard to peer into your future. And sometimes they see that someone you’re close to is steering into a ditch and may cause you to crash and burn (see 1 Corinthians 15:33).
Being smart in how you choose your friends goes a long way toward keeping your parents happy. It also helps make you the person God wants you to be because close friends have incredible influence on you.
How can you tell a good friend from one who might run you off God’s road? One sure way: Notice how friends alter your behavior. Let’s assume you are a sweet, kind, obedient, thoughtful, responsible, even angelic person. Suppose you find a new friend, and after a few weeks or months of hanging out with that person you’re blowing off school or mouthing off at home. What happened? You might feel your new friend is just helping you lighten up. But “friends” who negatively affect your behavior are not good for you no matter how much fun you have together.
You can befriend people who get into trouble, as long as you are a positive influence on them. Jesus was known as a friend to sinners (see Matthew 11: 19). But he never let their attitudes or actions pull him in the wrong direction.
When someone starts steering you away from God, it’s time to back off from that friendship. That’s tough—but not as tough in the long run as continuing in a relationship that hurts you. You can explain: “You know, my commitment to Jesus Christ is really important to me, and I don’t want to disappoint him anymore by doing the things I've been doing. If you want to do those things without me, that’s up to you. But I can’t join you anymore. I would like you to get closer to God with me. If you would like to get closer to God with me, that would be great. What do you think?”
REFLECT: When have you had a friend who influenced you in the wrong direction? Do you have friendships you need to reconsider right now?
PRAY: Talk to God about your questionable friendships today—and ask him what to do about them.