Bad Company Corrupts Good Character

25 November 2022

Relationships can be hard work, but they are worth it if they edify your life. What do you do when someone you have known for years changes in a way that counteracts your faith and belief system? They feel that there is no change, but you see it - what do you do? Most of us wait it out, thinking that the person is merely going through a bad time. But what if the change is permanent? Do we abandon the friendship? Do we walk away from the relationship?

Sometimes we must rethink our affiliations according to the priorities of our lives. If your faith is at the top of the priority list, then you must do what is necessary to preserve it. It does not mean you stop loving the person, but merely that your distance allows you not to be tempted to join in the choices you disagree with. This could happen to friends and even relatives. Simply because you once were close does not preclude you from setting boundaries. As a minister that was raised outside of the church, I found this issue most disheartening as I matriculated toward the pulpit. After reaching the pulpit to find many colleagues demonstrating bad behavior, I found it even more disturbing. What came from their mouths in sermons did not match the character they showed in everyday life. At one point, I knew I had to make tough decisions if I were to keep my faith intact.

Family members were the hardest to reconcile with. I found it easier to simply learn when to leave a gathering than to try and either correct or ignore certain behavior. When your heart is changed - often you must change your affiliations. With family, you cannot disown them, but you do not have to affirm their conduct either. Recognizing that we are all guilty of conscious or unconscious sin - there is a point where you must decide where to draw the line. Even then, there is no excuse for being mean or hateful; but there is no need to apologize for doing what you know to be right. I find that when asked why I am distant, it opens the door to acknowledging my discomfort with certain activities. This can actually save the relationship if the other person simply understands your reluctance and continues to engage. Relationships are very hard, but there cannot be a compromise of your faith and the purpose God has given. When in doubt, ask the Holy Spirit for guidance - it has never failed me.