Love is the key to friendship. Love translates into action when the needs of a friend become apparent. "A FRIEND IS A FRIEND ALWAYS." But God is not inviting you to be blind toward your friends and their vices.

        Self centered friends are friendly for appearances only for what they can get out of a relationship. They measure their friendships by materialistic gain while real friends are concerned with your well being.

        Once the light dawns in your consciousness that your friend is really not your friend, it is best to avoid them discreetly; and let the silence of ostracism speak in your behalf where words do no good.

        To attempt to counsel a proud self centered individual invites contentiousness. Rebuking and reproving the rude and insensitive sometimes does some good, but usually those who lack the love of God will return to their ungodly ways soon enough to burden the friendship unless you bring them to true repentance.

        People have standards. Behaviour one accepts, another rejects. There is also thinking one accepts while another rejects it. You have to know your friendships are going to be individualized.

        "LOVE COVERS A MULTITUDE OF SINS." The love of God allows us to adjust to our friendships without consenting to sinfulness or chronic misbehaviour.

        Godly love sometimes promotes a continuance of ungodly behaviour in friendships. The sinful individual mistakes love for acceptance of their ungodly behaviour and continues in it while others see godly love and emulate it.

FRIENDSHIPS ARE UNWRITTEN EVER CHANGING CONTRACTS:

        Friendships are unwritten contracts. You come and go in another's life according to an understanding often developed spontaneously. Your unwritten contract is the foundation upon which your friendship rests.

        There are too many variables in the friendship contract to address in this short document. It is important in the forming of friendships to realize the foundational agreements you make and the way in which you come and go with that individual ought to be opened up and made flexible as much as possible without inconveniencing your friend. Any lack of access or closed doors in the friendship will prove troublesome in the long run.

        Friendships often degenerate into employer employee relationships with one person dominant. We are not talking about taxable employment, but employment nonetheless.

        When you perform some service to maintain a friendship, you are buying friendship. That friendship is probably not based on love, but on need.

        If you see him whom you presume to be your friend become disrespectful, disloyal, impatient, egotistical, overbearing, secretive or demanding; you probably do not have a friendship. You are trading off one need against another of your supposed friend.

        Friends tend to establish policies for dealing with friends. One comes to town and takes care of all of their other errands before visiting with friend who take up a lot of their time. But if his friends have no real idea of when to expect him, their whole day is tied up making themselves available. This is selfish and insensitive of the friend toward others.

        Another friend works so hard to establish a career, he cannot give a firm commitment to a date and time until the last minute in the hope someone more important might be persuaded to be with him. This is selfish and insensitive of the friend toward others.

        Still another friend calls to say he has found a deal he will buy and deliver and his friend can pay him back. But the deal is of no use and the friend has made no provisions to return it for a refund. This is selfish and insensitive of the friend toward others.

        There are many evils in this world and they manage to work their way into our friendships to where they degenerate into burdensome relationships.

        Too many people do not treasure their friendships, so they have none. Some have standards so low, they refer to their familiar companions as friends. People you just hang out with to have something to do are not really friends. They are companions. They usually cannot be counted on to come through for you in a time of need.

        Your familiar companions may call you friend, but without the love of God in their heart to show real understanding and concern for your needs; they are not friends. Be aware of the unwritten contract you have developed with a friend spontaneously and do what you can to upgrade it by modifying the way you do things with him.

        Examine your friendships. If you understand the friendship contract, you may be able to modify it to improve your relationship and build a better friendship.

        William Penn, the devout Quaker founder of Pennsylvania wrote: "A true friend unbosoms freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably." There is your godly friendship contract. Live up to it and you shall have friends treasured up forever.

SINNERS CANNOT UNDERSTAND FRIENDSHIP:

        An elderly fellow flattered a spiritual man with amazement at how learned he perceived him to be, and how deeply he regreted not applying himself to learning.

        To gain his friendship, he offered the wayfaring man the key to his house and the use of his computer to program his website.

        The wayfaring man supposed he might win the fellow who was in his eighties, but it soon became apparent the older man was full of devices when anything about God was mentioned. The wayfaring man provided him with many hours of companionship which would cost plenty on the market and soon found out, the elderly man would either listen in stone silence or walk out of the room to end conversations about God.

        The regrets the elderly man had about becoming a learned man apparently did not include learning about God. Once it appeared to him the wayfaring man had taken up residence in his house daily to program his website on the man's computer and offer hours of companionship, the elderly man became domineering and demanding.

        The man of God perceived it. He came to understand the elderly man was calling him his friend, but had become his employer. The paycheck he was receiving for providing companionship daily was the use of the computer in the elderly man's office. It was not taxable income. It was what the elderly man was giving in exchange for companionship which he did not want to pay cash for because it was too expensive.

        When he joined the elderly man in his den where the tv was always on, the elderly man would offer his counsel on important decisions in the wayfaring man's life aggressively in such a way he would be offended were the advice not put into effect. He had driven his sons off by meddling and now was driving off his friend.

        The elderly man was incapable of friendship without the love of God in his heart. The friendship that was actually an employer employee relationship came into the Light when the elderly man drove him to pick up an RV he had purchased from someone the elderly knew decades back in the construction business.

        Based on the elderly man's recommendation of the retired contractor, the spiritual man had purchased an RV from him that turned out to be stolen property. He told the elderly man so on the way to pick it up because he wanted his money back.

        The elderly man became greivously agitated at the suggestion the RV with wrong license plates and a substituted V.I.N. plate on it, was stolen. He said his old buddy was incapable of doing such a thing.

        "Fine," the wayfaring man replied. "Then you'll have no problem coming in to see him with me while I ask him politely for my money back." He had just paid him for it in full that morning.

        "Oh no, I don't want to get caught between two friends. You can straighten this out with him. You've got rights you know."

        "What rights?" the wayfaring man replied firmly. "If I can't register the RV without a proper V.I.N. number, it will be towed within a few days because the DMV will not issue license plates for it, and the government will charge me thousands of dollars to store the RV while they try to find out who the guilty party is. If I take your old buddy to small claims court, I might win a judgment against him the court will not collect for me. I am looking thousands of dollars of financial losses in the eye."

        The man of God climbed out of the elderly man's car to go into the old buddy's house, when the elderly man stepped out and leaned on the roof of the car complaining to him that he was "smartin' off" to him.

        It was then he knew there was no friendship possible with the elderly man. He had never spoken disrespectfully to him, but he had spoken the truth of the matter.

        He said, "I have never smarted off to you, but thankyou for the ride. You saved me forty dollars for the taxi."

        Instead of saying, "You are welcome. Glad to do it." The elderly man grumpingly replied, "Well, that'll be no charge." And drove off.

        There was no doubt anymore in the wayfaring man's heart, what the elderly man was calling a friendship was actually an employer employee relationship with the spiritual man subordinate because the elderly man owned the house.

        He drove over to the elderly man's house the next morning while he was out for morning coffee, got his things from the computer room and set the key to the house on his recliner with a note saying, "This is your key."

        The elderly man came looking for him bitterly wanting to know time and time again what he had done wrong. He did not want to lose the companionship of the man of God he was getting at no real expense to himself. The elderly man had lived up to his expectations of what he saw as a friendship. But he did not have the love of God in his heart nor could he understand what godly friendship really is without the Spirit of the Lord in his life.

        So the saying came to pass. "WHAT FELLOWSHIP HAS LIGHT WITH DARKNESS?" The man of God no longer had anything to do with the elderly man because he saw he had rejected God in their conversations continually.

OVER FAMILIARITY BREEDS CONTEMPT:

        You don't want to be gone too long from a friendship nor stay too long in your friend's space to where you wear out your welcome.

        It has often been said "Over familiarity breeds contempt." Your over staying your welcome will breed contempt. But contempt for others often results from a puffed up ego.

        We are to respect the opinions of others above our opinions. But we don't have to implement them. What the other person believes is really their business as long as they don't push you into costly errors and mistakes.

        Over familiarity breeds many things. Over familiarity suggests your friend knows too much about your business and will be tempted to meddle in your decisions.

        Overdoing anything is not good. So over familiarity is not good. Why would you let someone know so much of your business they feel free to meddle in your decision making processes?

        Let's not become confused between secretive behaviour to hide sins and establish a complete lack of accountability V/S discreet behaviour to protect ourselves from meddling. Be discreet. Avoid over familiarity. Challenge your friend when he asks too many probing questions. Ask him why he needs to know. Once you let a friend dominate you, it becomes part of your unwritten contract. Something your friend expects of you to maintain the relationship without offense. So get him stopped before over familiarity becomes a habit.

        What we would like to do in the study of this document with the help of God is elevate your understanding to where you can build long lasting friendships of great spiritual and material value.

SECULAR MATERIALISTIC FRIENDSHIPS:

        "The poor is hated even of his own neighbor: but the rich has many friends." Proverbs 14:20

        If you have ever been impoverished, you already have experienced being hated by your own neighbors. They wanted nothing to do with you. If they did one favor for you, they were afraid they would have to do dozens to help you get your finances flowing. And they were well aware you might come to depend upon them to where they would have to perpetually support you.

        We are to bear one another's burdens, but each man is responsible for bearing his own burden. We are not obligated to crush ourselves with the weight of another's burdens. So it is some of the hatred of your neighbors was generated by the fact you were unable or unwilling to persuade them a little help materially would be all that was needed to bring you up to par to where you would be able to hold your own.

        Birds of a feather flock together. The rich associate with the rich because they have nothing to gain materially by associating with the impoverished who are in constant financial need.

        The righteous fellowship with the righteous because they have the similar interests in becoming one with God. The wicked hang out with the wicked because they have similar interests in robbing and killing. Fools go with fools because they have little understanding and low stands. Police socialize with police because they need friendships to climb the ladder of success in their profession and those who do not wear the badge often look for favors from them so they can live above the law.

        The rich hope to become richer and more powerful by their association with the rich. Their friendships are unwritten contracts in which they trade off materialistic favors. Just as soon as one of their rich friends loses their wealth and power however, they find themselves unwanted. Their friendships were not friendships.

        "The poor is hated even of his own neighbor: but the rich has many friends." Proverbs 14:20

        The rich lack quality of life and do not perceive it. This is referred to as "the deceitfulness of riches" in Jesus' teachings.

        They can buy almost anything they want, but no-one really loves them. The essence of true friendship is the love of God one person has for another.

        It is not wrong to have friendships with common materialistic interests, but it is wrong to be only concerned for materialistic gain. If you are friendly only for material gain, you lack the love of God in your life and need to do something about it for your own good.

KNOW YOUR FRIENDS BY INSPECTING THEIR FRUIT:

        The highest mountain a friend can climb in friendship is the laying down of his life for his friend.

        Many are not worthy of having good quality friendships because they are lacking themselves.

        You cannot build good godly friendships without godliness yourself.

        People with discernment can see the real you in your countenance, in your actions, in your sins of omission, in your unwholesome words, in your immorality, in your all knowing opinions, and your immorality, in your hypocrisies, and in your unwillingness to humble yourself to accountability one to another.

        The defining of friendship is complicated because people change, and as they change many friendships fall by the way side. Some because one of the friends moves. Others because their finances change. Other friendships fall by the way side because provocations occur that are not dealt with properly. Still other friendships fail because of treachery so the bond of trust holding them together is gone.

        If you want friendship, "you must show yourself friendly; and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother." Proverbs 18:24

FRIENDSHIP IS LOVE IN ACTION:

        There are two kinds of people in the world. One is impure of heart. The other is pure of heart. "TO THE IMPURE ALL THINGS ARE IMPURE, BUT TO THE PURE ALL THINGS ARE PURE." A person with a pure heart does not have to know you to be your friend. If they see you are being persecuted unjustly, they will do whatever is in their power for you. Such is the love of God deposited in the hearts of people in this world for your friendship.

        In Nazi Germany, the Jewish people found the friendly people of yesterday were hostile enemies today once the persecution of their race began in earnest. One Jewish businessman said customers who had always been friendly and seemed like friends came in the next day wearing brown Nazi uniforms, and spoke abusely to them as though they had just met.

        In another household with the shades pulled and the children trembling for fear of the mob outside, a young German male who lived upstairs came home; put on his Nazi youth uniform and called out to the mob from the window that the building was no longer Jewish owned and they needed to move on. He was a true friend.

        Jesus said, WHAT GREATER LOVE HAS A MAN THAN THAT HE WOULD LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR A FRIEND. That man was willing to lay down his life for his friends whom he did not personally know, but he knew they were innocent.

        No one nation in the world offered the persecuted Jewish people of Germany and Europe a refuge during the times of slaughter there.

        They were the SILENT MAJORITY of the world. The VOCAL MINORITY against the Jewish people were loud in the press and over the radio. They were obviously enemies of the Jewish people, but what about the SILENT MAJORITY who did not take a stand? Why was their friendship silent?

        When there is a need to gather the voices of a SILENT MAJORITY together to weld them into a force, leadership, power and money are helpful. In times of judgment from above, God does not permit the voice of friendship to rise up.

        The Jewish people were being slaughtered while people who really cared were unable to do anything about it. Is it any wonder the Jewish people are ruthless in business. They know they have few friends in this world, and money did not deliver many of them from their persecutors. In the world to come, they will not forget God alone provides safety to those who are obedient to him.

        Christ defines friendship very clearly. He says: "IF YOU ARE NOT WITH ME, YOU ARE AGAINST ME." God saw the Jewish people were far from him and the promises, so the good Shepherd drove them with the rod of persecution and the fear of death from Europe into the promised land.

IMPERFECT FRIENDSHIPS:

        The fact mankind has an opportunity to prove themselves friends of God, means there is a chance for the imperfect to make friends with the perfect, the finite with the infinite, and the evil with the good.

        Love your neighbor, and God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength is the command of God in the lives of believers. We, the imperfect, are to love our imperfect neighbors and God who is Perfect.

        If we succeed, we have fulfilled all the law of God to be found in the Bible. Therefore, we study the Word of God from Genesis to Revelation in the hope of learning the the law of God so we might fulfill it in loving him as well as our neighbor "perfectly."

        Our imperfections are the great weaknesses effecting our friendships with God and man. We not only need the love of God in our hearts, we need to grow up into Christ into spiritual Perfection in him if we hope to perfect our friendships.

        Anyone not working to perfect themselves spiritually is not working to perfect their friendships; and any friendship not treasured will degenerate.

        Trying to dominate your friends, presuming upon their hospitality and good will with forwardness, making yourself a burden to their contacts which they willingly entrusted to you, over staying your welcome, showing yourself uncharitable in their times of urgent need, showing yourself unsupportive when they are in a crisis, neglecting to look out for their profit, speaking irreverently or disrespectively to them, endangering their work and their purposes, showing yourself impatient toward them, boasting of all the good you have done for them as though they are now indebted to you, exalting yourself above them, showing yourself unmindful of their purposes. All of these imperfections adversely effect your friendships to where the love of God is grieved and quenched in them.

HOW GOD MEASURES YOUR FRIENDSHIP:

        God created you. He owns you. He purchased you with the blood sacrifice of his divine Son, Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. He wants your friendship and here is his one requirement:

        "You are my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you." Saint John 15:14) And what did the Lord command his faithful disciples? "These things I command you, that ye love one another." (Saint John 15:17)

        The mystery of our perfecting love for one another is God loving all his people through us. God Almighty intends to perfect his love one for another in all his people. If you are not working toward spiritually perfecting your love for your neighbor and friends, you are out of the will of God and into sin.

        "IF THE LOVE OF THIS WORLD IS IN YOU, THE LOVE OF THE FATHER IS NOT IN YOU." You cannot be the friend of the world and the friend of God at the same time.

        Those who would be the friend of God must have godly friendships, and the Lord must sit on the throne of your friendships.