James 4:4 – You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who makes himself a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (NIV)
We have all heard, or been told, that we should choose our friends wisely. Well, James gives us even more insight into this old advice, as he shares with us the heart of God.
Nowhere in the scriptures will we find any instructions that tell us not to be friends with non-Christians or non-believers. Befriending non-believers is often the best means of witnessing to them. But the Bible is clear on the fact that we should not be a "friend of the world". So what is the difference?
How can we be a friend of someone who is part of the world, but not be a friend of the world? Well, that has been quite a challenge for me. I often find myself, perhaps, laughing at a joke that I should not laugh at, or getting caught up in a conversation that I should not be a part of, just because it is what my friends are doing. I worry so much about being alienated from my friends, that I fail to realize that I am, in fact, alienating myself from God. In essence, I do become a friend of the world and of worldly things.
And there are even times when I allow this friendship to get in the way of my devotion to God. Doing this can not only damage our relationship with God, but it could also damage our witness to those friends who may see Jesus only in us. It is a very thin line that we, as Christians, must walk, and it is a challenge that we must face and overcome each day, since none of us, as Christians, desire to show any hatred toward God. It is something we must commit to prayer, and rely on God to give us the strength to overcome the temptations to become part of the world. James 4:7 instructs us, "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." So the power is there for us to claim, but the decision is ours to make.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, we ask now that You will provide us the faith to submit fully to You and to Your will. Help us to resist and overcome the temptations of the devil, that we might not befriend this world, but rather bring others into the friendship of the believers. Amen.