Friendship with the World--by Kimberly B. Southall

What do you think when you hear the phrase "friendship with the world"? "Friendship" is a nice word, isn't it? When we think of friendship, we usually have pleasant thoughts. After all, we like our friends, or they wouldn't be our friends, right? It might surprise you, then, to learn that the Bible tells us that friendship with the world is hatred toward God. Yes, indeed, it really does say that:

You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. –James 4:4 (NIV)

Does that mean it is wrong to have friendships? Certainly not. Friendship is a wonderful thing, not a hateful thing. First, we should understand that there is a difference between being friendly and true friendship. It is not wrong to be friendly with as many people as possible. In fact, we ought to be. What, then, could "friendship with the world is hatred toward God" possibly mean, then? It means that when we give more consideration to worldly things than we do to God, then we are showing hatred toward God.

The second part of James 4:4 explains a little bit further. It mentions that we have to choose. Think about your closest friend. Don't you usually choose to be with 

that particular friend as much as you possibly can? Aren't you usually considerate of what is important to that friend? Your best friend is important enough to you that have a loyalty for that friend, and you don't purposely do things to upset your friend, and you don't participate when others purposely do things to hurt your friend. You choose to be loyal and faithful to your friend. Your friend's feelings, well-being, and happiness are important to you. That is true friendship. This is the sort of friendship to think of when looking at this verse. This is the sort of deep and committed friendship God expects us to have toward Him. He must come first in our thoughts and actions. We must choose to be His friend first and foremost, instead of putting someone or something else in front of Him.

God doesn't have to be our only friend, but we should always choose Him first. When we do, then we will make our other choices wisely, too. We will choose earthly friends who also want to please Him and put Him first. We and our well-chosen friends will do our best to behave in ways which are pleasing to God. This is choosing to be friends of God rather than friends of the world.

Remember, there is no friend more faithful, loving, or powerful than God. It surely is a better thing to be His friend rather than His enemy. Choose God rather than the world. If you do, He will always choose you, too.

Copyright © 2004 Kimberly B. Southall. All rights reserved.