So why do we get the coolest phones or latest styles of clothes? Sometimes, whether we admit it or not, it’s because that’s what everyone else is doing. It’s human nature to follow those around us.
God says we are like sheep. Now, in case you didn’t know, it has been said that the sheep is the dumbest animal on our planet. It goes wherever the rest of the sheep go. If one sheep wanders over a cliff, then the rest are likely to follow if their shepherd doesn’t do anything about it. This is how we as humans are sometimes. We naturally tend to do things people around us do. If our friends all have the latest thing, we might want to get it. If our friends do something wrong, we’re liable to end up doing it too. If we are around a certain group of people a lot, we’re going to tend to act like they do. We become like our friends, whether they do wrong or right.
Having peers pressure you to do something isn’t right, but sometimes being influenced by peers is a good thing. Maybe we see our friends reading the Bible, talking about Godly things, or doing Godly things. If we see them doing those kinds of things, we might realize that we should look at ourselves in that area. This can lead us to a better relationship with God, because our friends are good examples to us, and this causes us to examine our lives. Other times having your peers influence you is a bad thing. If our friends all have the latest gadget, and we feel like we’re of lesser value if we don’t have it, then that can draw us away from God. It will lead to us getting the gadget because our friends say we should, or because of pride. This is wrong, because we are putting the action, item, or our friend’s opinions in the place of God and what he wants for us.
Sometimes if the action or item being pressured on is fine in God’s eyes, then friends can give us advice about it, but this is a different idea. Advice is more like good counseling from our friends and elders then it is being pressured to do something. If it comes to the point where the action or item being pressured on is more important than our real priorities, then it becomes peer pressure.
Now, if God (or reading the Bible, etc.) becomes a priority due to peer influence, then that is the result of your peers being a good example. Peer pressure is wrong. If you read your Bible because your friends say you should and to be more popular among them, then you’re not reading it for the right reasons. Our friends can be good examples to us, convict our hearts of certain things, and give advice, but they should never really be putting “peer pressure” on us to do right or wrong.
So how do we deal with peer pressure? If it is indeed peer pressure, and it’s putting something (usually our friends’ opinions) before God, then we should remove the source of the pressure from our lives. In most cases, this is our friends. If our friends are doing something wrong and pressuring us to do it too, then it’s time to find some wiser friends. God’s word says,
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” – Proverbs 13:20
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.'” – 1 Corinthians 15:33
Whether they know it or not, if your friends are putting peer pressure on you to do something wrong, or to do right and therefore placing their opinion before God, then you should not have them in your lives. Having them in your lives will only cause suffering. That’s just the way it is. God says that we should find wise company. This means hanging out with those who are following God and who bear spiritual fruit. If your friends draw you away from God rather than towards him, they need to be removed from your life. Sometimes this is very hard, but it’s the right thing to do, and God will help you if you ask him for strength.
Removing the source of the pressure is a key thing to do when faced with wrong peer pressure, but the other key thing to do is to replace those sources with Godly sources. Find Godly, mature friends who will be a good example to you and give you honest, God-honoring advice. Nobody is perfect of course, but there are those who really want to follow God, and bear the fruits of it in their lives. Those kinds of people are wise friends to have.
So find Godly, mature, and wise people to impact your life. Resist and remove those who pressure you to do wrong, and pray if doing this becomes hard. Having good counsel is an extremely important part of your life, and God should reign in it, as well as everywhere else. Honor your God by surrounding yourself with those who love Him!