The Old and New Testaments of the Bible provide a wealth of information on good and bad friendship. In many instances followers of Christ are warned about friends and how they may impact our lives.
Today we will take a look at some friendship Bible verses that will help you to get a better understanding of: what the Bible says about bad friends, the signs of a bad friend, characteristics of a bad friend according to the Bible, and the evils of bad friendship.
What does the Bible say about bad friends?
A bad friend displays character traits such as insensitivity and taking your forgiveness for granted. Instead of being sensitive to your needs and not trying to hurt you repeatedly this individual would prefer to abuse your love.
Proverbs 17:9 noted that this behavior may cause the bond friends share to be broken. It states, “Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends”.
Conflict, gossiping, violent behavior, and leading others astray are also characteristics of toxic friends as cited in Proverbs 16:28-29. These verses say, “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.
²⁹ A violent person entices their neighbor and leads them down a path that is not good”.
What are the signs of a bad friend?
Hot-temperedness, immorality, and a wavering character are some signs that tell you someone is a bad friend. Let’s take a look at these friendship Bible verses for a better understanding.
Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, ²⁵ or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared. Proverbs 22:24-25 NIV
The Lord in His wisdom knew that we would need guidance when it comes to choosing our friends. This is why He inspired Solomon to write these words.
If an individual has certain character traits it is better not to associate with him or her to avoid bad influences and a friendship with problems. According to this verse you should avoid hot-tempered and angry companions because you may start behaving like them.
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, Psalm 1:1 NIV
If you are in need of a guideline for a good judge of character then this text is one of the best Bible verses to use. This is because it highlights all the signs a good friend needs to have.
If an individual is upright, just, and shuns the very appearance of evil then he or she will make an excellent candidate for a good friend. On the other hand, if he or she follows the advice of the wicked, associates with evil doers, and joins with mockers then this is your queue to stay clear of him or her.
But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. 1 Corinthians 5:11 NIV
A bad companion lacks good morals and this is why the apostle Paul encouraged the church at Corinth to be aware of these individuals.
People who claim to be believers of Jesus Christ and display signs of sexual immorality, greediness, drunkenness, abusive tendencies, and idol worship are not excellent candidates for good friendships.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17:17 NIV
A companion with unwavering affection will love you when you have a difference of opinion and endure with you when adversities strike.
On the other hand, wavering affection is a sign of bad company. Individuals with this trait are unlikely to prove themselves as loyal friends when you are faced with hard times. They may be around when things are easy or when they want your help but when you need them most, they are unavailable.
Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find? Proverbs 20:6 NIV
I like the way the New Living Translation puts this text. It says, “Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?”.
You have a responsibility to test the loyalty of those who claim to be your friends. You have to ensure that true friendship is founded on the basis of love and dependability.
This means that you have to demonstrate reliability, availability, and faithfulness if you want others to consider you to be a faithful friend.
My enemies say of me in malice, “When will he die and his name perish?” ⁶ When one of them comes to see me, he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander; then he goes out and spreads it around. ⁷ All my enemies whisper together against me; they imagine the worst for me, saying, ⁸ “A vile disease has afflicted him; he will never get up from the place where he lies.” ⁹ Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me. Psalm 41:5-9 NIV
In this chapter the psalmist describes a bad friend as the enemy. His fake friends wished nothing but bad for him. If you realize that someone you once had a close relationship with starts to display any of the signs in this text it means you will have to evaluate the friendship.
Good friends will always want what is best for you and be supportive of you. Your success will not intimidate or make them jealous. Someone who claims to be your best friend will not gossip about you with others or betray your trust.
Characteristics of a bad friend according to the Bible
According to the Bible there are many characteristics of a bad friend. Unlike a real friend this individual: will bring harm to you, may not help when you are in need, lack knowledge, and is deceitful.
Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13:20 NIV
The word of God encourages us to choose wise individuals as companions. In associating with those who are wise we will benefit from their wisdom and become wiser.
On the other hand, associating with fools has its consequences. A companion of fools suffers harm. An individual who is likely to lead you into danger or bad situations cannot be considered as a good friend. Don’t associate with fools and get in trouble.
If you want to avoid getting into trouble then it would be wise to stay away from foolish companions.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: ¹⁰ If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV
This text looks at some benefits of true friendship. It points out that togetherness and working with others are good things and this is why it is important to forge loving friendships with others.
If a relationship is lacking love, then more than likely you will not be able to rely on each other for help during difficult times. This means that the same level of trust and love you expect from a friend is the same level you should give. If not, you run the risk of being an unreliable individual and a bad friend.
The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning. ⁷ Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips. Proverbs 14:6-7 NIV
A good friend doesn’t need to be a teacher or professor in order to share knowledge or impart wisdom. If you find yourself with a companion or associate who is not discerning and does not appreciate the value of knowledge, he or she lacks an important character trait.
This proverb warns that you should stay away from a fool. This makes a lot of sense because the conversations and reasoning of a foolish person is unlikely to edify anyone.
Additionally, you also have an obligation to value wisdom, be discerning, and share knowledge if you wish to be considered as a real friend.
Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. Proverbs 27:6 NIV
The story of Judas is a reminder that kisses are not just a way to express love and affection. What you interpret as a sign of affection could actually be kisses of an enemy that are meant to betray you.
This text is a reminder that you should be careful of who you trust or allow to be a part of your inner circle. False pretense, selfish ambition, and a lack of trustworthiness are indications that you should not invest in a friendship.
for people who are wicked and deceitful have opened their mouths against me; they have spoken against me with lying tongues. ³ With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause. ⁴ In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer. ⁵ They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship Psalm 109:2-5 NIV
In this Bible passage the psalmist shares the wounds of a friend who had bad intentions. Wickedness, deceit, slandering, lying, hatred, opposition, and wrongful accusations are some of the things he experienced.
It would be wise to avoid going through these bitter experiences by making sure that those who you associate with do not display any of these traits. Also, in the true spirit of friendship it would be great to evaluate yourself from time to time and ensure that you are not displaying any of these characteristics.
The same reasons why you stay away from toxic friends will be the same reasons others avoid you if they have reason to believe you may be a bad friend.
What are the evils of bad friendship?
According to God’s word, bad friendships can lead to many evils. Anyone who may: corrupt your character, lead you astray, or send you to hell does not have the qualities of a loving friend and should be avoided.
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV
The apostle leaves a clear warning in this verse. He listed one of the evils of bad company and also advises against being misled. There are very simple yet subtle reasons why you may be led astray by your peers. Ideologies, lifestyle choices, materialism, and even the love of money are some of these reasons.
First Timothy cited the love of money as the root of evil and a reason why many are led astray and even abandon their faith. Be careful of your friends and what they believe in because they may lead you down a path of grief.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs”. 1 Timothy 6:10
The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. Proverbs 12:26 NIV
This text makes a connection between righteousness and choosing friends. It states that the righteous uses a process of careful selection to decide who should be a friend. Of course, this makes perfect sense because the path of the righteous leads to good not evil.
The King James Version of Proverbs 4:18 also makes this point. It states, “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day”.
Without righteousness it is very easy to be led astray and to lead others astray. The New Living Translation of the text says, “The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray”.
Make it your heart’s desire to be godly, give good advice, and select your companions wisely. Otherwise, you may find yourself straying from the path of righteousness.
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 NIV
A clearer wording of this passage may be found in the New Living Translation. It says, “There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother“. I like the way the word friends is placed in quotes. A genuine friend would not try to destroy you or lead the relationship that you have into ruins.
In pointing out what will happen if you have an unreliable friend the book of Proverbs is highlighting the evils of bad friendship. To save yourself from such evil try to make friends who are reliable and consider you to be a brother or sister.
If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. ³⁰ And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. Matthew 5:29-30 NIV
This text may seem very literal and may be interpreted as a guide for self-control but it has far deeper meaning. The word of God says that we are all members of the same body. It is from this point of view that an eye or a hand may be considered as a family member or friend.
These verses provide words of knowledge for anyone who values good morals and desires to spend eternity with Jesus Christ. Bad friendship has the potential to thwart your eternal destiny. In fact, not separating the bonds you have with a bad friend may lead you straight to hell.
Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate. ⁶ My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; the one whose walk is blameless will minister to me. Psalm 101:5-6 NIV
This text is an open rebuke and has strong warnings for anyone who has friends. It calls for self-evaluation and the strictest level of discipline. It highlights pride, slandering, and haughtiness as unacceptable characteristics of a genuine friend.
According to the text these bad behaviors do not meet the Lord’s approval. The King James Version of Proverbs 16:28 looks at some of the evils of bad friendship. It states, “A forward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends”.
For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers. Proverbs 11:14 NIV
The book of proverbs advises that bad friendships will lead to your fall. This statement is true in both the political and social sense. Individuals like you and I as well as political leaders have a responsibility to ensure that relationships produce sound counsel.
If not consequences such as bad decision making and poor governance will be the end result.
Associating with individuals who are unable to provide sound guidance and judgement will more than likely place you in a situation where you are constantly being given bad advice or told to make poor choices.
The word of God has a lot to say about bad friends and why we should avoid them at all cost. It provides detailed information on the signs of a bad friend, the evils of bad friendship, and the characteristics of a bad friend from the Lord’s perspective.