Wednesday, September 01, 2004


In Jennifer's post I'm Reaching For The Stars she closes by pondering her relationship with some of her friends, "sometimes we get people in our lives who drag us down and we have to close doors with those kinds of people or, at least, not be so close as to fall with them."

She posted this a few months back and I commented on that post with regards to her thought on friends. This started up a discussion and Jennifer eventually asked for some biblical support to what I was saying. I obliged and have been wanting to post it here. I worked hard on it! :-)

My original comment can be found here.

Joe challenged my comment by asking questions like "where do you draw the line with friends in need?" and "if Christians aren't helping these people, who will?". He also observes that "half of the Christian people i know are into risk-free, no-work friendships; many non-Christians are just as bad if not worse with the company they keep."

Here was my well thought out response with biblical references:

Please note: My original statements are italicized. Biblical references are bold. My additional comments are normal font.


I have always been very selective about my friends. When some people may say that they have five or more "good" friends, I say I have one or two.

It is important to surround oneself with people who edify, not those who tear down. I read a book called "Safe People" once that talked about people who drag others down. It shares interesting insights about these people and helps one to identify relationships that might be "unsafe".

Unsafe people aren't all "toxic", but if being around a person causes a Christian to compromise Godly principles, that person is not safe to spend a lot of time with. You are right to say that we are responsible for our own behavior, that we can't blame another person for what we ourselves do, but why put ourselves into a situation that may lead us to compromise our principles? We are to "flee from temptation".

It calls some people "toxic", meaning that they are not necessarily the safest, or the most edifying people to be in a relationship with.

It is good to help friends in need, but you can't allow that to be to the detriment to oneself.

Proverbs 22

24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man,

do not associate with one easily angered,

25 or you may learn his ways

and get yourself ensnared.

Exodus 23

32 Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. 33 Do not let them live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you."

Mark 9

42"And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. 43If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.[1]

2 Corinthians 6

14Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15What harmony is there between Christ and Belial[1] ? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?

The Bible is filled with warnings like those above, teaching us to be selective about with whom to associate. It doesn't say avoid them completely, but warns that close ties with those who can "drag us" down will lead to trouble. The yoking verse applies to close relationships, as in covenantal relationships like marriage, but the principle is consistent. "What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?"

It is difficult to help another person in need if one is not at a healthy place spiritually, physically, or emotionally.

Hebrews 12:1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

If we are not healthy spiritually, we must discern why and remove that which is keeping us unhealthy.

I agree that Christians should help others in need even if there is much to sacrifice. The greater the sacrifice, the greater the blessing.

Acts 2

45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

1 Timothy 5

7Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame. 8If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Proverbs 11

25 A generous man will prosper;

he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

26 People curse the man who hoards grain,

but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell.

A Christian will not be of help to anyone if his walk with the Lord is suffering. God works through Christians to accomplish His work, and if we aren't a vessel fit for His presence, we are not usable.

Christians can read the accounts of Abraham, Moses, David and Solomon to know that at times these men were not usable. Abraham and Moses required years and years of character development before they were ready to be used by God. David, the King with the "Heart of God", fell into sin and suffered many consequences for it. Solomon, as wise as he was made grave errors in judgement and that cost him much as well as the people he was leading. While God makes "all things good for those who love Him", we often times delay* the outpouring of His blessing because of disobedience.

Hebrews 13

15Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Romans 15

26For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. 27They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews' spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.

Christians must seek fellowship with other Christians for the purpose of building one another up and for encouragement. We need to support one another. I would agree that it is dangerous to retreat from the world, which is what I see happening with the "Mega Church" trend when actual communities are being built that are exclusive to church members. This is scary to me. If we retreat from the world, we can not be salt and light in it.

Hebrews 10

24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

There are, however, people who do not want help. There are people who accept help, but continue in their patterns of behavior that are detrimental to themselves and those around them. A Christian needs to be discerning. We need to understand that there is a difference between sacrificing oneself to help another get on their feet, or enabling another to continue in destructive behaviors.

Matthew 10:14

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.

If people are offered help, in this case the gospel, and reject it, move on!

I Thessolonians 4

6and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.

Leviticus 25:17

Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the LORD your God.

Also, we are commanded to not take advantage of one another, nor should we allow others to take advantage of us. I see this in Jesus' teaching to "turn the other cheek". This doesn't mean to lie down and "take it" or to be a "doormat", this teaching is about taking control of a situation, actually it is about giving it to God. If a person demands that you walk a mile, you walk two. That person then has lost their "control" over you and is not able to take you for advantage. It is a spiritual discipline.

Matthew 5:39

But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Luke 6:29

If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.

One thing that a Christian can NEVER sacrifice, is his relationship with the Lord.

We can do nothing without the Lord!

John 5:30

By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

John 15:5

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

I provided biblical references in previous statements that show how Scripture warns us to be discerning about those we choose to associate with. The Matthew verse below explains some consequences of behaving as a "pagan" or a non-believer.

Matthew 18

17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

This verse speaks volumes to me about a believer who is behaving as a non-believer. We are instructed to do what we can to bring a believer back into fellowship, but if the efforts fail, we are to treat that person as a pagan...a non-believer. This doesn̢۪t mean shun, this means treat with mercy, compassion and love, but the brother/sister relationship is invalid until that person is restored to fellowship, by recommitting to his/her relationship with the Lord.


Any additional thoughts or comments? Please feel free to add them!

*the word delay replaces the word prolong that I used in the original post. Thanks to Oddy Crist for pointing out my error, which helps to make my point clearer.

No comments:

Post a Comment