When it comes to handling negativity, good friends are key.
“When he [Bartimaeus] heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout,
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet,
but he shouted all the more,
“Son of David, have mercy on me!”
– Mark 10:47-48
It has been said that if you hang out in a barber shop long enough, you will end up getting a haircut (unless you are already bald, like me). The idea is that you tend to become very similar to the people with whom you spend the most time. The Bible warns that bad company corrupts good character (1 Corinthians 15:33).
On the other hand, if you walk with the wise, you will gain wisdom (Proverbs 13:20). The Holy Spirit in you can empower you to break free from outside pressures that undermine your faith. Cry out to God stridently when the negative voices are the loudest. God’s grace can silence cruel critics.
Bartimaeus was a blind beggar in the city of Jericho. No one was able to heal him. As Jesus walked by, Bartimaeus knew this was his opportunity to ask for help. He shouted once to Jesus, but the crowd told him to be quiet. Then, Bartimaeus made the most important decision of his life. He chose not to listen to the crowd.
Instead, he called out to Jesus even louder the second time. Jesus saw his faith and healed him. Bartimaeus’ longing for Jesus and His healing helped him prevail against the negative pressure of the crowd. The people tried to discourage him, but Bartimaeus knew that he must have faith and not give up seeking Jesus.
His determination to experience the grace of Jesus helped him to overcome the peer pressure that he faced! Have you ever had to overcome people who have tried to keep you from moving forward? And rising above negativity is one of the clearest demonstrations of how the goodness of God can sustain us in any situation.
The Bible says to be careful and wise about choosing your friends (Proverbs 12:26 and 22:24). Here are some tips for handling negativity:
1) Distance: Don’t get too close to people who pull you down.
2) Double Check: See if the Bible agrees with what you are being told by people.
3) Reversal: Use the negative comments to motivate you to do what is right.
4) Firmness: People give you advice, but you make the final decision on what to do.
5) Avoid: Don’t step into places and situations that you can’t handle.
1) Why do people put negative pressure on themselves?
2) Are there people in your life who are pulling you away from God?
3) When have you triumphed over negative peer pressure?
4) How does the example of Bartimaeus encourage you?
Psalm 1. God’s Word will help you to avoid a lot of unnecessary headaches in life.
Proverbs 13:20. You will probably become like your friends—so be discerning when choosing them.
1 Corinthians 15:33. Your character is partly shaped by other people.
Matthew 16:21-23. Well-intentioned people can lead you astray.
Philippians 2:14-16. God wants you to shine and stand out in your generation.
Galatians 2:20. Know your true identity and live out your faith.
Father God, I don’t want to be swayed by peoples’ comments and opinions. I want to be firm in my faith. Please help me not to give in to the negative influences around me. I look to Your wisdom in choosing my closest friends. I admit that I often try to please the people around me. I pray for courage and discernment so I will know when to hold my ground and when to speak up about my faith. I know You hear me now as I call out to You. I pray all of this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Excerpt republished with permission from A New Season by Jesse Bradley c. 2013