Many are friends for gain
rather than love or concern.

Saint Ed

      If you watched the above video, you were probably just a little bit surprised human friendship with lions born in captivity was chosen to get your attention. There is obviously a friendship between the man and the lions. It is centered in trust, but it is also centered in his meeting their needs for leadership, for food, water and companionship.

      He doesn't get violent with them and they ordinarily don't get violent with him, although you can see he is so popular with the lions they want to fight over his attentiveness and affections. The man is clearly their leader.

      Human friendships are also formed essentially around some common need, skill or pleasure motivating to both of you. You trade off time together to get what you both want and soon become familiar friends. But is it really a friendship? Has your friendship been tested? Do you trust one another? Can you keep one another's secrets? Are you trustworthy around your friend's spouse? Do you trust one another with money?

      There are so many things that bond two people together, it would be impossible to name them all. But the true test of friendship is love. When trouble comes, does the friendship fail?

      Once you realize Jesus Christ came as God in the flesh of a man and died for your sins on the cross outside of Jerusalem, you should come to an understanding he knew who you were before you were born; and in that context he died for you to purchase you from hell. You have one friend to begin with in this lifetime.

      People change. We are not the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Ego's get puffed up. Anger gets lodged in the heart. Promotions come to one and not to the other. One party presumes to be more important than the other. One thinks he has already bought the love of the other forever. One comes to think he is in authority by means of material advantage. Your interests change. Your health changes. Your location changes. You get married and your wife dominates your former freedoms.

      Friendships are tested by many of these things but ultimately love is the measure. Sins enter in. Gossip, greed, lack of integrity, rudeness, insensitivity, anger. Sin is not love. It is some form of hate within a friendship. Sin wrecks friendships.

      When you see signs of a degenerate friendship, the best thing you can do is try to talk to the person to see if it can be made right. If you find them obstinate and unapproachable, its time for you to depart from the friendship. If you find they correct their behaviour for a while and go back to it, its time to end it.

      Friends are forever, but you don't have to remain inside them. We who believe in Jesus Christ for our Saviour have life after the grave. You can depart from a friendship discreetly in some cases, however in other situations you will find the "presumption of friendship" so strong, the other party will be offended at your ending it. "The perfect man offends no one" but if they are offended at your not participating any further in the friendship, it is not necessarily you who has offended them; but they who have taken offense unnecessarily.

      In some instances it simply is no longer profitable to spend time with those with whom you were familiar friends. This does not mean you are angry with them. If you are really friends, the friendship will be there when the time is ripe again.

      Discernment ought to always be exercised as to whether your friendship is growing or degenerative. If it is growing, good. If it is degenerative, someone is doing something wrong. Fix it if you can. Withdraw a little if it helps. Depart altogether if need be. The quality of your life and relationship with the Lord depends upon your maintaining the freedom to obey Jesus Christ to the uttermost.

      There are many who will take over your life in the name of friendship for their own purposes. Watch out! You already belong to the Lord. "You were purchased with a price" at Calvary.