“Show me your friends, and I’ll tell you who you are.” I don’t know who said this statement, but I agree with it wholeheartedly. Today’s post was tough for me to write, and may be tough for you to read, but I think it’s one that can change our lives if we’re willing to be real with ourselves.
Sometimes as Christians, we have to make hard decisions. The closer we get to the Lord, the more things become revealed to us, and one of the most difficult decisions that I’ve personally had to make as a Christian has been letting people who I have called “friends” go.
The thing about friendships is that we typically make friends who we can relate to. Often before we start living according to our faith we establish friendships with people with whom we share common interests and lifestyles. Both share the same sets of principles, in the sense of sinful behaviors. People that are not strong in their faith love the company of others who are the same. Typically, we share, condone and tolerate each other’s unbiblical behavior and feel much better about it because we’re not alone.
For me, I became a Christian at the age of 6, but was enslaved to several habitual sins for many years. I gossiped, constantly lied to my parents and continued with several other regular sins in my life. There was a point where I realized that these consistent sins were hindering my relationship with God and stopping me from witnessing to the people who God placed in my life.
I’m thankful to the Lord for convicting me through the Holy Spirit of my sinful tendencies, and changing the desires of my heart. I don’t claim to be a perfect Christian, and never will. As long as I’m alive, I live in this body of sin and am aware that I will always constantly be at spiritual warfare against my own flesh and the devil.
There was a miraculous relief that came into my life when I allowed the Holy Spirit to take over. The more time I spent in prayer and meditating on the Bible, the more I was falling in love with my Savior. The closer I got to Him, the sin in my life came into sharp focus and I knew I needed to submit the weak areas of my life to the Lord. I started realizing at that point that whenever I spent time with friends who were continuing in the habitually sinful lifestyle that I was trying to get away from, that I would either fall back into the same sins, or minimize the actual sin itself in order to fit in.
I knew that I needed to be compassionate to the people in my life that called themselves Christians but lived like the world, but I also really felt a tugging on my heart that I needed to stop associating so closely with them.
2 Corinthians 6:14 asks “What fellowship has light with darkness?”
Before I was able to make the decision to walk away from these friends, I really hoped that I could somehow lead them to the Lord. Throughout the Bible there are passages where we see that God sent His people to minister to the lost, but only for a season.
These friends are good people, but as I started getting closer to God, I watched myself going along with their sin because I wanted to continue to have a good relationship with them. They remained attached to their sinful lifestyles, and the only way to stop myself from becoming influenced was to distance myself.
Take note of this statement: you are always either running away from God or running towards him. This is true for everyone. Every day, every decision that we make is either one that brings us closer to God, or pushes us away. When we stand before the Lord to give an account of our lives, we will have to answer for ourselves. Trust me, I know that it’s hard to let go of friends. Keep in mind, though, that insincere Christianity is rampant today, and that surrounding ourselves with friends who don’t encourage us spiritually is only going to help us run away from God without realizing that we’re doing so…or not caring that we are.
The Bible tells us that God hates sin. If we don’t have a conscience about the sin in our lives, that is a huge problem. If you can’t remember the last time you were convicted of the sin in your life, I’m going to ask you to do something that may seem harsh. Take a minute and question your salvation. None of us are perfect, but each of us should be growing in our faith.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.”
The gate in this passage is referring to salvation, and the road is referring to our spiritual walk. If you accepted the Lord as your personal Savior, but are not living a changed life or do not feel conviction about the sin in your life, you may be deceived about your salvation. There is a verse in the Bible that strikes terror in my heart in this same chapter…
“Not all those who say ‘You are our Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. The only people who will enter the kingdom of heaven are those who do what my Father in heaven wants. On the last day many people will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, we spoke for you, and through you we forced out demons and did many miracles.’ Then I will tell them clearly, ‘Get away from me, you who do evil. I never knew you.”’
Matthew 7: 21
Look closely at that passage. These people called him “Lord”, they spoke for Him, forced out demons and did many miracles claiming to be Christians, but on that day when they stand before Him with an account of their lives, He tells them that He never knew them.
When it comes to your spiritual life, there are going to be many hindrances that come in your way. The devil puts these things in your life to deter you from your ultimate purpose which is to know God, and to make Him known to the people in your life. Unfortunately one of the ways that the devil is successfully able to prevent us from doing these things is to put friends in our lives that persuade us that YOLO should be your life principle. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and proclaim that ‘you only live once’, but the truth is that the life we live in this world is less than 1% of eternity. Believers and unbelievers alike get to experience eternal life, the only difference is where we get to spend it. If our friends are not encouraging us to run towards the Lord today, it’s time to evaluate those friendships and with the help of God, let them go.
“What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”