Letting Go of Friends
I've experienced an interesting phenomenon over this past year. While God led me into studying His Word and thereby experiencing a growing love relationship with Him, I've since noticed a "shut-off" switch in my heart to let people I called "friends" go.
The thing about friendships is one typically makes friends of like mind and lifestyles. Let's say one becomes friends with someone while living in sin. Both share the same 'values', in the sense of sinful behaviors. Sinners love the company of sinners. And typically, it's the same sin that is shared, condoned and tolerated. In fact, many marriages start out on this shaky ground. Those enslaved to porn end up together. Those who abuse alcohol or other drugs end up together. Those who love gambling, gluttony, have a victim mentality, etc. end up together.
For me, I used to claim Christianity yet was enslaved to a particular, sinful lifestyle. God delivered me. I didn't do it; He did it! He changed the desire of my heart and is yet creating a new heart and spirit within me. This is the miracle of His love! In response to Him setting me free, I am falling more and more in love with Him every day. I know I can't get through a day without Him. Since then, whenever I 'fellowshipped' with those same 'friends' I felt an obvious decrease in the bond. While I still have compassion for where they are, God called me out and away from them, and it happened in an instant ~ like a shutting off of His Light switch.
"What fellowship has Light with darkness?" (2 Cor 6:14-15) Jesus said in John 3:19, "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil." Surely, I felt along the way that I could somehow 'shepherd' these friends into the Light. Throughout the Bible I see passages where God sent His people to minister to the lost, but only for a season. God allows free will. He even said in Gen 6:3, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever".
These 'friends' are surely kind and nice people, but when my spiritual eyes were opened, I 'saw' the thoughts and intent of their hearts, which over time affected my ability to be accepting and tolerant. They remained attached to their sinful lifestyles, and the only way to rebuke the sin was to rebuke the relationship with the sinner. Spending time with them became a drain on me. I ended up feeling more and more uncomfortable around them. How sad to think if God's pulled me away from them, are they not His?
Sometimes it's hard to let go of friends and it's even harder to tell them why. It's not my place. God's been shining His Light in their lives with long-suffering, and they know good and well what the Lord says about their lifestyles. I don't need to tell them. I am not their judge. God is. Truly, if God chose to deliver me, He can do the same for them...in His time, if they are willing. See, God abhors sin. If we don't have a conscience about it there's a problem. If you're God's child and you love Him with all your heart, you too will have an intolerance for the 'regard for iniquity' in your own heart, let alone the hearts of others. Ps 66:18 states, "If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear." John 9:31 states, "We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him."
See, I'm a project all by myself. I cherish my time with the Lord, mediating upon His Word, pondering what it is He wants to teach me. I'm growing little by little, and I don't want the world hindering that growth. There is one reason to be around sinners, and that is to witness to them what God had done and is doing in your life. His Spirit will bring the conviction upon the hearer, praise God. Just TESTIFY! Lift Him up!! However, fellowshipping with or befriending those whose consciences are seared with a hot iron (1 Tim 4:2), in that they revel in darkness, is a detriment to your spiritual growth. There's wisdom in knowing the difference between agape love (love of God) and phileo love (heart-felt friendship). James 4:4 states, "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."
I had thoughts on my heart this morning. I thought about how peoples' lives change when they fall in love. Suddenly, everything they do revolves around that great love relationship. There is joy and a passionate commitment, witnessed by all who know them. When it comes to someone tempting either party to betray the other, the lovebirds would rather cut off that threatening influence than risk what they have and are building together. THIS IS HOW IT IS WHEN WE FALL IN LOVE WITH JESUS!
"Lord, I pray for my friends that continue to be enslaved to darkness rather than Light. While I can't see the full extent of this enslavement; You do. Be with me as I follow You, Lord, and I trust You to continue to reach out to my friends, as only You know how; just as You did with me. I thank You for the new doors You are opening in my life. Nothing I desire compares with You. I withdraw from the world and its ways and draw near to You, O God; for You are my first love, my hiding place, and apart from You I can do nothing. I am jealous for You and You are jealous for me. In Your Holy Name I pray, amen."
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