When it comes to the people we spend time with, we must be careful of their influence on us.
In 1 Corinthians 15:33, Paul warns us that bad seed corrupts good morals. How do you protect yourself from other people’s bad morals from corrupting you? I have a few ideas on this:
~ Set boundaries. A boundary is an intangible emotional and intellectual line that is established in relationships for freedom, protection, and privacy. Be prepared in advance, because when you get into the situation it may be too late to make a quality decision.
~ Do not closely associate with people who enjoy gossip or arguments. These people are toxic and can “infect” you if you have prolonged exposure and you do not detach from them (see my article at https://dareesinsights.wordpress.com/2009/01/24/youre-killing-me-toxic-people/) and should be avoided (see Romans 16:17 and Proverbs 6:16, 19).
~ Discourage certain behavior in your presence: smoking, swearing, certain types of movies/TV programming (see Romans 12:2).
~ Do not let other’s poor treatment of you determine or influence how you treat them. (See https://dareesinsights.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/art-of-letting-go/). Always do unto others as you would have them do unto you, with a pure heart. Let the Holy Spirit guide you as to whom you should separate from and whom you need to press on with and pray for.
~ Make these experiences and your testimony as teachable moments to share with others, to understand what can go wrong and how you can deal with it in a godly manner.
~ Evaluate your friendships and relationships. There are four circles of friendship: intimate, close, casual, and acquaintance (1):
- Intimate- This will be your smallest group (3-6 intimate friends; may include a spouse). Jesus’ intimate friends were James, John, and Peter. We feel at home with intimate friends without fear or hesitation. The level of friendship is dictated by out willingness to be transparent with them – and them with us!
- Close- (10-30)
- Associates are people we become close to them because of a specific task, job, or place of service.
- Mentors are people who build significantly in to our lives by teaching, counseling, and guiding us.
- Personal close friends are those we see, talk to, or spend time with frequently, by mutual choice. We share bits and pieces of who we really are.
- Casual- (20-100) This group consists of people we see regularly (for example, at work, in the neighborhood, or in classes). No friendship roots are laid down because we don’t share much of ourselves with them.
- Acquaintance- This will be your largest group. These are people that you know in some way, but have no intention of pursuing a friendship with them.
It is prudent to take a look at the people you interact with, and periodically assess which category of friendship you have placed them in. You may need to reevaluate a friendship and move that person to a different category. Some friendships are only meant for a season, not to hang on to for life. Use wisdom and the Holy Spirit’s guidance to determine the difference.
(1) Linda Evert, Developing Godly Friendships, (2007).