You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
I was not a Christian during my high school years, but I attended a local youth group with several friends just because I wanted to hang out with them. It turned out that I knew a number of the kids from that youth group because they went to our school. It was not a surprise that some of them were Christians, but it certainly was a surprise that others were. Even as a teenager it was evident who was a real friend to God. I imagine that from their perspective it was just as clear that I was a friend of the world. My interests and my motivations were completely worldly, and no one would have confused me for a child of faith. It was my attachment to the things of this world that gave me away as someone who perhaps knew something about God but who truly did not know him.
Discernment is critical when we are deciding who we should let in our inner circles. Declaring that someone is a friend in the faith is no small matter. Considering the requirement of dedication and sacrifice that accompanies that relationship, we must be certain that we invite only those who are true friends of our Father. One of the easiest ways for us to identify God’s friends is by looking at a person’s relationship to the world. If someone’s hopes and dreams are tied up in that which can be gained here, that is a clear giveaway. Likewise, if a person’s words or actions indicate that the heart is in pursuit of those things which are not godly, it should be a red flag for us. It is not possible to straddle the fence successfully and appeal to both sides. God’s friends simply are not friends of the world.
This analysis also can be and should be applied introspectively. If we want to make sure that we are properly maintaining our friendship with the Father, we must regularly assess our relationship with the world and its trappings. We must check our own motivations and goals. We must make sure that our evangelistic efforts influence those of the world for good and not allow them to influence us for bad. We cannot walk aimlessly without measuring each step to ensure that it falls along God’s path for us. As we test the fruit of others to be certain they are God’s friends, let us be sure to test our fruit as well. Father, give us discernment to know who is a true friend of yours, and keep us vigilant to make sure that we do not become friends of the world.