When I was a little girl, my siblings and I spent a lot of time with our cousins. My dad’s family was especially close. We had one female cousin around our age and my sisters and I adored her. Every time she came over, we all three vied for her attention. And we all three asked her the same question: which one of us is your favorite. We each had the desire to be as wonderful in her eyes as she was in ours. The hardest part of this relationship was seeing your favorite cousin enjoying your sister more than she enjoyed you. Without words, you found out that for that day at least, you were not the favorite. We were all three equally jealous best friends.
I was thinking this morning of our unique relationship with the Holy Spirit, in which he comes alongside us and joins us in every part of our day. Every day. What a wonderful best friend we have! Only, this morning while I was thinking about all of this, I was also contemplating how many ways I have communicated to the Holy Spirit that though He is with me always, I have struggled to embrace His friendship because I have another friend that vies just as eagerly for my time and attention: The World.
Oh, it’s not what you think though. I’m not out there being worldly while the Spirit sits and sadly watches. My attention is just averted quite often to those things that are more temporal and less satisfying to the Lover of My Soul. I’m not exactly out there gallivanting with sin, because that’s not what a Christian girl should do. I am just looking longingly at things that tear my attention and focus off the Holy Spirit and all the wonderful things He is doing in and through, and for, me. For instance, relationships and money and status and recognition … while all of these things can be wonderful and used by God, if that isn’t what God has for me, then I shouldn’t be spending all my time longing for them at the expense of this now-moment that the Lord wants to work in.
You see, either way, you have a jealous best friend. Whether you are friends with the world, or friends with the Lord. James 4:4 tells us that “friendship with the world is enmity with God” and Galatians 5:17 says that, “the desires of the flesh are against the spirit.” The world, with all it’s glamour and allure, jealously seeks all your time and attention. This best friend, though momentarily comforting and fun, does not want you to enjoy the benefits of the presence and power of God, so she distracts you with trivial, fleeting things like wealth and acclamation, entertainment and a mindless, numbing sort of rest from all your cares. Instantly gratifying, requiring no long-term commitment or investment, the world is a fair-weather sort of friend, who knows how to laugh and have fun. She’s the best friend you can spend a weekend indulging yourself with.
On the other hand, the Holy Spirit is also jealous. James 4:5 says that “He jealously longs for the spirit He has caused to dwell in us.” Your God, His Spirit inside of you, is jealous for you! However, this friendship is the real deal. He will never leave you, nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6). He’s in it for the long haul. “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” according to Proverbs 18:24, and that friend is the Holy Spirit. There is no storm you will ever have to weather alone. The Holy Spirit is not a fair-weather friend. He provides shelter in the storm, peace in the chaos, life in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. The Holy Spirit is with you through thick and thin, and the only thing He cannot accept is your friendship with the world. “You will either love one and hate the other. (Matthew 6:24)”
Choosing which friend to align with is often left to our fickle emotions of the moment, though. Like, we often subconsciously make this decision by asking, “which friend serves the me better in this?” Does the world make a better friend in this moment, by allowing me to enjoy myself without the hindering convictions? Or does the Holy Spirit help me get out of this mess that the world helped me get into? Ouch! This does seem to be the way we choose who’s our favorite for the day, doesn’t it?
Holy Spirit, I don’t want to be that friend anymore. Convict me when necessary, but guide me always and hang with me through thick and thin because you make me better, and I love that about you. You are the greatest gift of friendship I have ever known, and I pray that you will inspire me to be better to you. Truth be told, you are my favorite. Thank you for understanding the war that my flesh is in against the things of God, and I pray that you will always stay beside me, gently coaxing me to look at you and not at the world around me. After all, all that glitters is not gold. Thank you for this truth today. I love you.