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Sunday word: Distinguish true friends from pretenders

BY PROSPER TINGINI
The Lord our God and His son Jesus Christ taught us not only to love our friends but to embrace our enemies too. However, there is a difference between a friend and foe. In our circles, we are surrounded by different characters and classes of people who are either genuine in attitude or deceivers whom we can liken to wolves dressed up in sheep’s wool. We have many cases of backstabbing by people we considered as true friends. It is imperative to know your true friends from the fake ones, although it may be difficult to distinguish.

Our scriptures have stories and verses that warn us to be aware of those around us who may pretend to be our close associates, yet they are enemies from within. Be watchful of those people. We can compare them to Judas Iscariot who walked, talked and lived with Jesus Christ, yet he went behind his back and betrayed him. Matthew 26:14-16 reads: Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?” and they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

There are people like him who only seek a gain from a betrayal of perceived friendship. There is another group of friends, whom you may consider as comrades, yet they don’t really believe in you nor do they put their full trust in you. They are pretenders who act as if they are with you but their allegiance lie elsewhere. They will only believe in what you say only after your promises are fulfilled. These people delay progress and are usually counter-productive. One of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ had this trait. John 20:24-25 says of Thomas: Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came (after the resurrection). So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord”. But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side (stabbed by the spear), I will not believe” (end of quote). In this instance Thomas expressed his mistrust openly, yet the majority of those who surround you will not openly put their mistrust into words. Their silence will scuttle your efforts or delay other things.

In the scriptures (Genesis 9:20-24) we have the story of Ham, one of the three sons of Noah. It reads: Noah was the first tiller of the soil. He planted a vineyard; and drank of the wine, and became drunk, and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth (the other two brothers) took a garment, laid it upon both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. In real life we have people in our lives who act as Ham. They will rush to expose any of your secrets, to injure your persona and bring harm to your integrity at every opportunity. They will expose your nakedness the day you make a mistake and find yourself in a sinful situation, telling every one of your weaknesses and bringing you into ridicule. Watch out.

There is also this group of associates who may walk with you and possibly live with you, but the very moment you start facing some challenges and difficulties in life, they will desert and forsake you. They don’t want to be associated with your problems. In good times they are with you, but in bad times they run away from you. When you have money or power these people hover around you like vultures in the sky. Once poverty engulfs you or your power evaporates, you will be like the smell of rotten waste to them.

There are others who pretend to be walking with you but when God begins to bless you in one way or the other, they will become jealous of your blessings or success. If it’s to do with authority and power, they may even go on to challenge your authority or influence. They may also influence others not to acknowledge you and even engineer a revolt against you. Numbers 16:1-4 has a comparable story which reads:  Now Korah the son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Rueben, took men; and they rose up against Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well known men; and they assembled together against Moses and against Aaron, and said to them, “You have gone too far! For all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them; why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” When Moses heard it, he fell on his face; and he said to Korah and all his company, “In the morning the Lord will show you who is his, and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to him; him whom he will choose he will cause to come near him.”

Moses and Aaron had been anointed and blessed by God to lead the people and congregation of the children of Israel on their journey to their promised land, yet some people were not pleased with their authority. The revolters all perished at the hand of the Lord our God (verse 31-35).

There is a parallel clique of people who are close to you but the moment your profile begins to rise above theirs, they will start to detest you. They may secretly plan to hijack your authority or cut off those who believe in you and win them over by claiming that they are better than you, saying all the bad things they can come up with against your person. Among this group are also the excessively greedy and insatiable characters who may use your name to collect money cunningly behind your back. Others may want people to feel like you are not taking good care of them by asking for all kinds of financial contributions or donations from the gullible public. This will soil your name.

Of all these groups of pretenders, the most dangerous are those who have a voice and influence amongst the people. They may cook up fabricated stories that could destroy your integrity and position. Be wary of them. These groups of people are found everywhere. They are there in families, friends, business, politics, offices, workplaces and the churches. Distinguish your true friends from the pretenders. A friend in need is a friend in-deed. Amen.

  • Prosper Tingini is the Scribe of the Children of God Missionary Assembly — God’s messengers. Contact details: Mobile and Whatsapp: 0771 260 195. Email address: ptingini@gmail.com 

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