Today’s post is not an easy one to write; the topic is one that I am very familiar with and have experienced myself. I’ll be talking about identifying toxic friendships. For the purpose of this post a toxic friendship will be defined as any friendship, that is taking away from your walk with God. A toxic friendship doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative relationship; it doesn’t have to be abusive, stressful, or hurtful. In fact, the toxic friendship I was in seemed like the ideal friendship; I couldn’t ask for anything more from a friendship.
Identifying a toxic relationship can be difficult not because they’re hard to spot but because we tend to ignore them; deep in our hearts we know that something isn’t right but we brush it under the rug instead of confronting it. If you have read my testimony then you know that I have experienced this very thing. I allowed myself to grow close to someone who I knew was not a Christian. At first I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal but the closer I grew to them, the more I began to change and the more this relationship was a hindrance in my walk with God.
I’m not going to re-hash everything that went down (you read everything in the above link to my testimony post) but I will say that I do not blame this person for anything- I knew what I was getting myself into and I made my own choices. I was friends with this person for two years before I acknowledged that if I wanted to mature in my relationship with Christ then I needed to give up this friendship- essentially, it was a relationship with my friend or a relationship with God. I began distancing myself from her (while I honestly should have just sat her down and explained that our friendship was effecting my relationship with God but I was too chicken.)
You may be thinking, but Jesus hung out with all kinds of sinners! And you’re right. In fact, the Bible calls us to love everyone, even sinners (1 John 4:7-8) but it also calls us to be vigilant and on guard (1 Peter 5:8-10.)When we allow ourselves to grow close to someone who is not a Christian, we are making it 100 times easier for Satan to lure us into a life of sin. So, though we are to be loving and kind to everyone we also need to be cautious.
Now you may be wondering, how do I know if my relationship is toxic? I’m going to share the ways that God helped me to see how harmful my friendship was and I want you to seriously ask yourself these four questions:
Signs Of A Toxic Friendship
1. Is God speaking to you?
I knew I was in a toxic friendship a long time before I ended the relationship because I could feel God nudging my heart. However, like a lot of people I ignored him because I was ashamed of myself and because I was prideful.
2. Are you sacrificing your beliefs or morals?
Is your relationship with your friend, your boyfriend, or whomever leading you to sin? Are you giving up parts of your Christian walk for the sake of this person? Maybe you aren’t praying because it makes them uncomfortable, or you’re not reading your Bible because you know they will make fun of you, or maybe you’re not living in purity because you know they’re expecting something from you.
3. Does this relationship glorify God?
Does this relationship magnify who God is? Will it show his love, grace, mercy, and power? 1 Corinthians 10:31 says that not matter what we do, it should glorify God. When people look at your relationship do they see Christ or do they see a hypocrite? I know this sounds harsh, but sometimes harsh is what we need to see the truth because if something isn’t glorifying God, if it isn’t making God proud, then it has no business in your life.
4. Is it worth it?
If you are at the point where you know that your relationship is toxic, that it’s damaging your walk with God, then you need to ask yourself this: Is this friend, boyfriend, co-worker, whoever, worth losing my relationship with God? Because when you know that there is something unholy in your life and you choose not to give it up, you’re telling God that he just isn’t worth it.
I know that letting go of someone is hard, I really do, but you have to make a decision because as long as you are in a toxic relationship you will never mature in your walk with God.
What To Do When You’re In A Toxic Friendship
The Bible tells us to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:16). Don’t be afraid to bring every small aspect of your life before God; He wants to be involved in your life. We often think that something like a toxic friendship may not be important enough to pray about but God wants to be involved in your life!
Listen for God’s answer to your prayer! Sometimes we think God hasn’t replied to our prayer because we didn’t take the time to listen to Him. The Lord may not reply audibly; He could answer through scripture, a sermon, a spiritual mentor, etc. I’ve found that God replies to my prayers through scripture quite often; I have now made it a habit to read my Bible after praying. And then sometimes, it’s like I just know the answer.
Obey God’s will in the situation, whatever it may be. God may not want you to end the friendship but then again, maybe He will. I know ending a friendship is difficult, as you can see above, I’ve been through it myself. However, I am confident that I did the best thing for me and for the other person. God’s will is always to prosper you (even if it may be painful in the moment), Jeremiah 29:11. You may not be able to see it now, but God only wants what’s best for you and sometimes that requires great sacrifice on our part.
Have you had to get out of a toxic relationship? How did you realize the relationship was toxic?
BONUS: Click here to learn how to deal with difficult people!
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