I was counselling a young man who was struggling with the unfair behaviour of his friend. I confirmed that he was right that his so-called friend was behaving badly, but I then suggested he was having a mood because his ‘friend’ box was humanly defined to suit his selfishness. Seeing he was able to hear the truth, I went on to say, that if you’re a friend of God, friends might hurt your feelings, but they won’t drive you into a mood. There’s something wrong with your friendship with God.
What’s a friend?
I’ve asked this question on many occasions, and the general response is … ‘someone who is kind to me’, ‘someone who listens to me’, and ‘someone who makes me feel good’.
All humans are designed to want and need friends. It’s normal and it’s natural. But, there’s a problem. Our definitions and expectations are all about what someone should do for ME.
Jesus said … you are my friends if you do what I command you, John 15:14. This is the opposite to the human definition above. God expects you to keep Him happy and do what He wants; not the other way around. It’s pretty clear that the other way around is just a Satanic plot to trap humans in the fairness argument and divert them from doing it the way God says.
Jesus didn’t accumulate friends. He didn’t do good deeds to give Himself self-value and followers. More often than not, He lost friends (John 6). That’s because He was only interested in doing the will of his Father. If God is your friend, you won’t need friends to prop up your self-value, so if a friend does wrong by you, it might hurt your feelings but it won’t hurt your spirit.
Why do we have to do it God’s way?
The issue is spirit. God’s way usually doesn’t make sense, but If you don’t do it the way God says, and you do it the way of fairness, Satan will take power over your thinking. Satan will control your will and manoeuvre you away from God. This is confirmed in 2 Timothy 2:24-26 KJV.
Friendly vs friend
There’s a vast difference between being friendly with God, and being a friend of God. Friendly infers an expectation that God will look after me and care for me. That’s the human expectation of friendship and it’s contaminated by selfishness. On the other hand, if you want to be a friend of God, you have to give up your human right of fairness and trust His judgment and do what He wants; that is, not expect Him to serve your needs and wants, or be obligated to keep you happy.
You can’t be friend of God and a friend of the world at the same time, James 4:4. They are opposites. And you can only be a friend of God if you aren’t a friend of the world. The world is friendly with God, and therefore, the world expects to go to heaven if they’ve been good. But, they are not friends of God, and they won’t go to heaven. It’s the direct opposite for a true Christian; if you’re a friend of God you can be friendly with the world, but you can’t befriend the world. As soon as you try to collect worldly friends you threaten your friendship with God.
Under human friendship rules, no one has real friends. The reality is, everyone is just using and collecting other people for their own self-value status. However, if you’re a friend of God, you can have friends, because it doesn’t matter if they’re using you. All that matters is what God wants. However, if that friend opposes or challenges your friendship with God, you are required to separate. They should no longer be counted as a friend.
Because God is my friend, and because my wife supports that friendship, then my wife is my friend, too. In fact, she’s my best-friend. It’s my friendship with God that sustains and uniquely blesses my relationship with my wife. If she opposed my friendship with God, how could we be friends?
How do you keep the laws of God?
This question may not sound related to’ friends’, but it is. Most people, even non-Christians, recognise that it’s good to try and keep the Ten Commandments. Everyone tries to do what’s right by the commandments, but it’s humanly impossible. God, Himself, has given us a simple instruction that doesn’t require you to be ruled by rules.
It’s found in Matthew 7:12 and it’s simply … treat others as you would like to be treated, because this fulfils all the law and the prophets, and it’s re-confirmed in Matthew 22:37-40. This means you don’t keep the laws of God by trying to be good and obey the rules, but rather, you can only keep the laws of God by first, being a friend of God and, second, by obeying his two directions towards other people. Those two instructions are … treat others as you would yourself, and hold no grievance against your friend or enemy, but instead trust His plan and purpose. Impossible to do unless you’re a friend of God.
If you walk in His love, you automatically keep the rules. If it’s not His love, the rules will give you a boundary of safety from the suction of worldly evil, but they won’t save you.
From God’s perspective, everything is measured by your relationship with your fellowman. Love is measured by relationship, not by rules. If you practice love to your neighbour with the secret expectation that ‘you get back more than what you give up’, it’s breaking the commandments of God. Be as nice as you like to your fellowman and then have a mood and hold a grievance when he hurts your feelings or attacks you without justification, and it simply means you are running by the friend rule, not the God rule.
God doesn’t say … hold a grievance when your friend hurts your feelings and turns against you. On the contrary, He actually commands us to pray for our enemies, Matthew 5:44. That takes faith and trust.
You can’t practice this strategy unless you’re a friend of God. You can try but it won’t work.
Love = giving up something for someone else. The opposite to love is pride. Therefore, PRIDE = expecting someone to give up something for ME. This definition is confirmed in Matthew 7:12, John 6:38 & 8:29. Good friendship may look like love, but If love is motivated by pride, then it’s not love, it’s pride, no matter how it looks.
You wouldn’t serve an omelette with 5 good eggs and one rotten egg. The omelette would be rotten. When you do a good deed for someone, that’s love, but as soon as you expect a good deed back, that’s pride. Counting up your good deeds and ignoring your pride deeds and ignoring your secret selfish motivation, does not equal love, but selfish usury. You can argue with God about your good deeds, but He’s measuring your love by the contamination.
Greater love has no man than he lay down his life for his friend (John 15:13). That’s love, but it’s not love if it’s contaminated by self-value. This is confirmed in 1 Corinthians 13, where the Word of God also states that you can give your body to be burned but it will profit you nothing if it isn’t love. These statements seem contradictory but they’re really saying the same thing. That is, nothing’s genuine uncontaminated love unless you’re a friend of God, because if you’re a friend of God, then it’s His love that flows, and His love is not contaminated by pride.
Gratitude or attitude
Jesus proved Himself as love by dying for the human race. He did lay down His life for His friends and it worked because He didn’t do it for Himself but for His Heavenly Father. He did it the Father’s way, and rejected the ‘self’ way. Have you responded with a gratitude of commitment of being His friend, or like the selfish majority, are you friendly with God so that He’ll be friendly with you? One is death to self, the other is get for self.
If you have a mood or hold a grievance because someone hasn’t done right by you, you’ve got a friendship with God issue.
There’s a price to pay to be a friend of God. A Christian cannot accumulate worldly friends for their own status and self-value. A genuine Christian is someone who is a friend of God and not a friend of the world, James 4:4.
May God open our eyes to our selfish fairness that believes we’re Godly when it’s really just living for our own image, instead of for God’s.
Pastor Samuel Abbel