I give thanks to God often for the people in my life, both family and friends. Just yesterday I gave thanks for time spent with a dear friend after we met at a coffeeshop. However, this morning God brought the subject of inappropriate friendships to my mind…specifically, that we shouldn’t take part in inappropriate friendships. I realized I was supposed to write about this. Not really sure what to write, I first went to the Bible to see what it says about friends/friendship. The New Living Translation (NLT) mentions friend/friendship 215 times! Several are shared below. (To see all of these verses, go to www.biblegateway.com, enter’ friends’ in the search box and select New Living Translation.)
Some Bible verses referenced friendships that were loving, helpful, and loyal. Others addressed lying, cheating, and betrayal. The latter are definitely examples of bad friendships, but what are ‘inappropriate’ friendships?
According to Webster’s dictionary, ‘inappropriate’ means not appropriate, not suitable or fitting, improper. Simply put, an inappropriate friendship is an improper friendship.
Examples that come to mind…
- friendships that interfere with marriage
- friendships that interfere with parental/family relationships
- friendships that disrupt previous ‘good’ relationships with friends
- friendships that cause us to behave in appropriate ways
- friendships that don’t respect or value the good things about you
- friendships that hold you back
- friendships that are one-way, when one person only takes, never gives
- friendships that are a constant source of discouragement
- friendships that enable another person’s unhealthy or distructive behavior
- friendships based on lies, dishonesty
- friendships that cause physical, verbal, emotional or mental abuse
- FRIENDSHIPS THAT HOLD YOU BACK FROM GOD
These friendships can be with boyfriends or girlfriends, best friends or casual friends, old friends and new friends, co-workers, and even family members (mother, father, brother, sister, cousin, etc.).
A married person having too friendly of a ‘friendship’ with someone of the opposite sex at work, on facebook, or even at church is inappropriate. The Bible tells us we don’t have to actually commit a physical act for a relationship to be adulterous. If we even lust in our hearts for someone other than our spouse, then we are having adulterous thoughts that are just as bad and can cause just as much damage.
A person’s best friend might be a great person, but if that friendship is interfering with one’s marriage, family, or other important relationships, then it’s ‘inappropriate’ and needs to be pursued in a different way.
Friendships that encourage you to take part in behavior you know is wrong are definitely inappropriate!
Friendships that discourage you from pursing your hopes, goals and dreams are inapproriate. A true friend will be happy for you, encourage you, support you, and celebrate the good things about you.
Friendships that enable you to pursue unhealthy or destructive behaviors are not only inappropriate, but also dangerous for you. Examples of these behaviors…overeating, having too much alcohol, taking drugs, smoking, or other addictive behaviors.
Any relationship that causes any kind of abuse is inappropriate and dangerous. Get out of these relationships immediately and seek help, if needed.
The last example listed above mentions friendships that keep you from God. This might mean that another person verbally discourages a right relationship with God, but separation from God also happens when we sin. Guilt from sin can separate us from God. God is not separating Himself from us. In our shame or attempt to cover up our actions, we pull back from Him. Any relationship in which this is happening needs to be addressed right away.
Sometimes we have to end inappropriate relationships. Other times we just need to address the problems, get right with God about them, and seek His guidance for pursuing those relationships in a healthy, appropriate way. Doing so won’t just benefit us, but the other person as well!
If you feel you are in an inappropriate relationship, please turn to God, trust Him with your heart, and pray. He will guide you. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowleget Him, and He will set your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Following are a few Bible verses that teach about friends/friendships taken from the book of Proverbs:
The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray. (12:26)
With their words, the godless destroy their friends, but knowledge will rescue the righteous. (11:9)
The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life; a wise person wins friends. (11:30)
He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. (13:20)
A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends. (16:28)
Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. (17:9)
A friend is always loyal, and a brother (close friend, friend in Christ) is born to help in time of need. (17:17) NIV version: A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (17:17)
There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. (18:24)
Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. (27:6)
The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. (27:9)
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. (27:17)
Hopefully your friendships are good, healthy and ‘appropriate’. If not, I hope and pray that you will let God guide you in your relationships. Remember, that no matter what, God always loves you and calls you His friend, and His is the best friendship of all.
Your friend in Christ,