6 Warning Signs of a Troubled Friendship
Friendships are a risk, but a risk worth taking for lifetime bonds in this world and in the next. Sometimes we are guilty of taking our friends for granted and things change without our attention. Troubled friendships need to be dealt with immediately especially of those in the household of faith. A broken friendship among the children of God can give room to the enemy to cause more dissension among believers. Take heed to the 6 warning signs of a troubled friendship:
Warning Sign #1) Your friend is suddenly unavailable most of the time.
“My relatives have gone away; my closest friends have forgotten me” (Job 19:14).
The sudden abandonment of a friendship without explanation can be very difficult to overcome. After you’ve tried everything to keep the connection alive, it may be time to let them go. If the reason for their unavailability remains unknown to you, then you must pray and seek God’s wisdom. Perhaps you’ve unintentionally sinned against them or perhaps they have moved on to other friends. Whatever the reason, you have a Friend in Jesus Christ and He can comfort you.
Warning Sign #2) Your friend is making just-under-the-surface snide remarks.
“Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me” (Psalm 41:9).
Sometimes our friends may struggle with jealousy or envy and we are completely unaware of it. We catch remarks that seem a little too crass, but we throw it off because they are our friends. However, the Bible clearly teaches that what we say is a reflection of where our heart stands. Don’t be afraid to address comments that seem rude or unnecessary. Ask the Lord for the grace and wisdom to deal with the issues.
Warning Sign #3) Your friend is becoming more worldly.
“Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
We make friends with people we like to hang out with—they are those we feel most comfortable being ourselves. Sometimes our friends may change over time and begin to develop an appetite for the things of this world. It’s a real temptation for all of us on different levels; however, for some believers—it’s a real struggle to pull away. Your friendship can’t last on the fence any more than a believer can successfully live for God and the world at the same time.
Warning Sign #4) Your friend avoids a conflicting issue or disagreement with you.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).
Conflicts are a part of life. Every decent and long-term friendship will have those moments where they will be tested. Only Jesus was perfect and those who trust in Him are being perfected on a daily basis. You can’t avoid the disagreements because you need to learn how to love each other through those difficult times. Because godly friendships involve people filled with the Holy Spirit—you will always be led towards reconciliation and forgiveness if humility is present within each party.
Warning Sign #5) Your friend shares gossip about common friends.
“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret” (Proverbs 11:13).
Any friend who regularly gossips about other people—will gossip about you. If you are a willing participant and allow it to continue, then you are guilty of gossip as well. Even believers can use the “I’m-just-telling-you-so-you-can-pray” excuse; however, we must discipline ourselves to turn to God first before sharing about other people’s business. Our friendships should be based on mutual concerns for the family of God without repeating their sins or transgressions through a gossiping tongue.
Warning Sign #6) Your friend is engaged in sinful behavior.
“If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life” (1 John 5:16).
When a good friend is caught in a sin, it can be devastating to entire families. Parents who are friends with another family tend to have their children just as connected to them. Intense prayer and loving intervention is necessary to help a friend turn away from sin. If they refuse to repent, it may be time to release the friendship for a season to give time for intercessory prayer.
Troubling Times can bring Spiritual Growth
Every troubled friendship may not be saved. Sometimes you must walk away from a great friendship because of the gradual spiritual breakdown within yourself or with your family. The Lord understands and relates to your brokenness and hurt. He sends His Holy Spirit to encourage and comfort your heart. He also sends you more friends in His purpose and timing. It’s important to let the Lord use a troubled friendship to dray you closer to Him.
Article by Crystal McDowell
Crystal McDowell is a writer, speaker, and teacher with a passion to encourage believers to know and grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ through practical application of God’s word.
Crystal and her husband, Marshall, raise their five children in the Bloomington, IL. As a freelance writer and editor for over 13 years, Crystal has published numerous Christian curriculums for Sunday School and VBS as well as many articles dealing with marriage, motherhood, and relationships. She’s a weekly staff writer for www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com as well as writing her own blog at http://crystalmcdowellspeaks.blogspot.com.