When Saying Yes to God Means Saying No to Friends

🌺  Written by Brittany Ann

 When Saying Yes to God Means Saying No to FriendsAs a Christian, how do you feel about things like yoga, trick-or-treating on Halloween, reading Harry Potter, drinking, reading your horoscope, spending time with non-Christians, gossiping, participating in Lent, reading 50 Shades of Gray, and watching your favorite band at the local bar?

What about your friends? Do they agree?


The truth is, for as long and as large as the Bible is, it still leaves a lot of room for interpretation in some areas. And the things that you would find objectionable, your friends may not be opposed to at all–even if they are committed Christians just like you.

This doesn’t mean you need to get into an entire heated debate to convince them that you’re right and they’re wrong (after all, it may be *you* that is wrong… or no one at all). But I think it is important to realize that–even among Christians circles–there will still be plenty of chances to get involved in things we really should not be involved in.


So how do you respond when the inevitable happens? Your friends all want to see the latest movie–even though you’ve heard it’s garbage. Your colleagues at work constantly gossip and expect you to join in. Your best friend is on the verge of an affair and wants you to cover for her… How do you react?

As hard as it is, sometimes saying “yes” to God will require you to say “no” to your friends. And here’s how to do just that.


1. Choose Your Friends Wisely


“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.'” — 1 Corinthians 15:33


One of the easiest ways to keep yourself out of trouble is simply to choose your friends wisely. Whether you like it or not, the people you choose to spend time with can and do have a tremendous impact on you and the choices you make.

There’s a famous quote from motivational speaker Jim Rohn that goes: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Whether or not this is always true, it certainly provides a lot to think about.

If you surround yourself with negative people, you’re likely to become one too. If you surround yourself with people who are selfish or greedy, you’re like to become selfish and greedy too.  But, if you surround yourself with Godly friends who are intentional about putting God first, you likely will too.

Who are the five people you spend the majority of your time with? If you were to become just like them, would that be a good or a bad thing?


2. Know Your Boundaries


Unfortunately, even if you were to surround yourself with only the holiest of people (which I wouldn’t recommend anyways, because then how could you witness to others?), you likely will find yourself in situations that you don’t necessarily agree with.

Perhaps your friends engage in activities they wouldn’t consider “all that bad” that you’d rather steer clear of. Things like Halloween, yoga, Harry Potter, or the latest R-rated movie. Or perhaps your friends simply have bad habits they haven’t been able to break yet. (No one’s perfect)

In situations like these, it’s up to you to decide ahead of time what you are and are not okay with.

Don’t wait until you’re in the heat of the moment. You’ll be like a deer in headlights, and you’ll likely just go along with everyone to be agreeable.

Decide ahead of time how you will respond.


*Need help setting good boundaries? This post has good information about how to do just that. 


3. Remember Your Priorities


“So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” – 2 Corinthians 5:9-10


Of course, just because you decide ahead of time how you will respond doesn’t mean that that response will come easily when it’s time to act (or not act, as the case may be).

When you’re in the heat of the moment… When you know what you *should* say or do, but you’re having a difficult time doing it… It’s time to remember your priorities.

After all, going against the grain is rarely fun. We all want to be liked and make others happy. Saying no isn’t easy.

But when you keep an eternal perspective and remember who you REALLY want to please, it does get a lot easier to use the situation as a witnessing opportunity instead of a missed opportunity to have some inappropriate fun.


4. Have an “Out”


Have you taken the time to set your boundaries and establish your priorities but you’re still struggling to say no? If so, it can help to have a good excuse at the ready.

Now, I don’t mean to lie. But you may want to be prepared with a few phrases you can say to get yourself out of the conversation gracefully. For example:

  • “I don’t really feel like going out today. I think I’m just going to stay home and relax instead.”
  • “As much as I’d love to hang out with you, we’re trying to save money right now, so I’m going to have to pass.”
  • “Thanks for thinking of me, but I’m going to have to pass this time. Next time you get together, let me know.”
  • “I’m not a big fan of [whatever activity]. What about doing [a different activity] instead?”
  • “I’ve been meaning to spend more time with my kids/spouse lately, so I should probably do that instead. Maybe we can get together another time?”


5. Stand Firm


“So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” — Matthew 10:32-33


If your friends are easy-going and laid-back, one polite “no” or “not this time” may be all it takes to steer the conversation in another direction. Sometimes, however, a polite excuse simply isn’t going to be enough. And when this happens, you’re going to have to stand firm.

Tell your friend (IN LOVE!) why you have no interest in whatever activity your friend wants you to do. You don’t have to be rude and judgmental, but you don’t have to back down either. Simply say no, give as much explanation as you feel comfortable, and leave it at that.

Ultimately, you don’t owe your friends an explanation for why you will or will not participate in any activity, although it is better to give one if you can. Maybe they simply don’t know or simply never thought about the issue the way you have? And perhaps they have some insight you’ve never considered either.

(Which is exactly why I LOVE discussing all of these tricky issues on our Facebook page!)

Whether your friends respect your decision, pester you, laugh at you, ignore you or don’t really care either way, that doesn’t really matter. They can do what they want. You do what you know is right. 


Have you ever been in a situation like this before–where your friends wanted you to participate in something you knew you shouldn’t? How did you handle it?


Join the Discussion

Comment policy: All opinions are welcome here and friendly, edifying debates are encouraged. However, comments that are rude, hateful, malicious, or spammy will be immediately deleted without warning. Your email address will not be shared publicly. 

  1. I have a question….in your first paragraph you mention participating in Lent. Is there something wrong with Lent? I guess I have always just seen it as a season in our church’s calendar when our hymns and Bible readings prepare for Easter/Resurrection Day. (Just like Advent prepares for Christmas) We don’t change our way of eating or give up anything, but we do have additional midweek services (with a fellowship meal before) so I guess you could say we ‘celebrate’ it. I never knew it was something that people are offended by – and certainly not to the extent of horoscopes, Halloween, bar-hopping, or 50 Shades! (LOL)

    1. No, there’s nothing wrong with it. But whenever I post something about Lent on Facebook, I always get comments about how it’s not in the Bible, we shouldn’t give things up for Lent because we should give things up all year, and a whole manner of anti-Catholic stuff I have to delete. The point I was trying to make is just that not everyone has the same opinion on all things Christian. No worries 🙂

  2. Wow… How are there not more comments on here?? I am going through a huge life change because if the poor friendships I’d made in recent months and I WISH I had read this beforehand!!

  3. Been there!!! Actually had a friend really wanting to do a strip club for her bachelorette and I was the maid of honor…married with kids. I was about seven months pregnant and I offered to drive. I sat in the parking lot during the event and got a lot of grief … And I know the bride was a bit upset but I had to stand my ground.

    1. Good for you! I imagine that would have been tough to do, but hopefully you made a polite yet impactful statement that made more of a difference than you’ll ever know.

  4. My daughter is struggling away at college for a Christian friend she can bond with. Even though she has “lots” of Christian friends. I was praying for her, when I opened my laptop and God sent me right to your article. It’s already been forwarded to her 🙂 . Thanks for allowing God to work through you. God bless, and I’ve found a new AWESOME encouraging website.

  5. Maybe I’m misinterpreting the first paragraph, if so I’m sorry! But is there something about yoga that I’m missing? I love yoga and have never heard of it being associated with typical “non-Christian” interests. Also, spending time with “non Christians”, is this a bad thing? Should we only spend time with those who believe the same as us? Isn’t it non Christians who need to spend time with followers of Christ even more?

    1. Great questions! Christians in general are divided on whether or not yoga is appropriate. The stretches themselves aren’t bad, but the practice of yoga as a whole has a LOT of ties to Hindu and the New Age movement — both of which Christians should definitely not participate in.

      (If you Google “Should Christians do yoga” you can find several articles that support both sides!)

      Of course, Christmas and Easter and just about everything else also have some roots in paganism, and most Christians still very happily celebrate those (myself included!), so it’s really a matter what knowing the facts and deciding where you personally want to land on the issue.

      And as for hanging out with non-Christians — Definitely not a bad thing! In fact, Jesus himself spent a lot of time with non-Christians.

      Though of course you do want to choose your friends wisely. If you surround yourself primarily with people whose values are different than yours, it’s likely to rub off on you as well. But that’s true whether your friends are Christian or not (or both!)

      Hope that helps!

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