On Monday we talked about restoring friendships that go sour. Not every offense is friendship ending. Christ calls us to forgive. When possible, welcome friends who have wronged you back into your circle.
But not every friendship should be salvaged. Today we’re tackling the topic of toxic people.
Let me introduce you to a friend of mine. We’ll call him “Friend B.” I’d been close with Friend B for a long time, but one day he took a family member of mine to lunch and blasted our family for doing something that, in their opinion, was wrong.
Shocked, we stepped back to see if what they were saying was true and to ask the question, “Is this activity good for us?” After a few days of prayer, plus a few meetings with other advisors, we determined that what we were doing was not only good, but incredibly beneficial to more people than just us.
That didn’t go well with Friend B. He would have none of it when we told him this is what the Lord had called our family to do. We tried to reason with him, but it didn’t work. Since then, we rarely speak.
When to Pull the Plug
Occasionally, you’ll need to cut off a friendship because of someone’s negative impact on you. Toxic friendships are . . . well . . . toxic, meaning they can contaminate your heart and mind. You might find yourself tempted to do something wrong when you’re around a certain person, or they might just constantly drag you down, like Friend B was doing.
But is there a way to know if you need to cut off a friendship? These three passages can help.
“‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness’” (Matt. 23:27).
We all sin. That’s part of being human. But if you’re friends with someone who looks good in public but constantly tempts you to sin in private, get out! Say goodbye. Hit the road.
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’” (1 Cor. 15:33).
The apostle Paul used this verse to refer to those who “have no knowledge of God” (1 Cor. 15:34). While the verse from Matthew applies to those who call themselves believers, this passage refers to a broader group. I’m not implying that you can’t be friends with people who don’t follow Jesus. What I am saying is that you need to be very aware of who you become when you’re around them. Evaluate your friendships with unbelievers and ask yourself how they’re affecting you.
“Make no friendship with a man given to anger” (Prov. 22:24).
I’m addressing this last one specifically to my friends reading this who are dating or going to date. Don’t date someone with anger issues. Anger issues are deeper than a one-time explosion. Can guys get over anger issues? Sure! I did. But all too often, girls want to write off anger issues because a guy is cute or sweet or he likes kids. Trust me: if you go ahead and date or marry him, it can, and likely will, lead to huge problems later.
Keep in mind:
- Toxic people pull you down.
- Toxic people cause you to doubt yourself and others.
- Toxic people distract you from pursuing what the Lord has called you to do.
Let me end on a hopeful note: people can change. Never give up on someone 100 percent. It might take five or ten years, but if you get a text one day from a toxic person apologizing and wanting to make it right, give them a chance to explain. They’ll have to earn your trust back, but remember that Christ welcomed you back once you repented and returned to Him. Offer that same grace to others.
I’m curious to know from you . . . have you ever realized that a friendship needed to go (or at least change) because of something toxic that was happening to you? Tell me below.