I was so angry with Berk. He should have known better! We’ve shared some great moments together! He has had the best of everything out here in the country with us. How could he do that? He should have been more loyal to me and his brother Doonie! Where is the ‘man’s best friend?’ I taught him! I kept him safe all of this time (they were 7 months old), fed him along with Doonie from their [puppifancy]? Now, he runs off with a little pack of stranger dogs just passing through to leave Doonie alone? Where is my furry four-legged unconditionally loving best friend? Who does that? What is wrong with you, Berk!?
And then it occurred to me, in a moment, a flash of revelation! Berk is a dog! Yes, he’s had the best treatment, the best provisions, pampered, loved and taught a few things. But! He is a dog!
Wow! I have been humanizing this dog while he has done what a dog does, according to his nature!
That’s how it is sometimes when we’re disappointed and hurt by people in our personal space and with whom we have relationship. We may wonder, ‘why did they do this or that to me?’ How could they be so mean and treat me this way? Somewhere in this personal inquiry, it should come to mind that this person may not have the capacity to feel or do what you’re expecting of them. It is not in their nature and their true nature is to do what they’ve done to you! Especially if this is another occasion of their disappointing behavior!
People, like animals, cannot act outside of their nature. That is why it is so important to listen to what your heart is saying about a person. Every person is not appropriate for your inner circle and will not be good for you. Everybody will not be your friend! People who have only the sinful nature have the capacity to do almost anything while those who are people of faith have limits according to the love of God that is in their hearts. Therefore, caution should be observed when forming your circle of friends.
With that reality, it is necessary to set some limits on making friends, even those who may on the surface appear to be alright:
- Ask God to give you a discerning spirit. Some things become obvious with just a moment of prayer as you begin to engage with a person in conversation. “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (I Thessalonians 5:21 NKJV)
- Don’t be so quick to pull someone in close to you. Listen to your gut feeling! Any feeling of restraint is probably a reminder that this person should be approached with caution. Observation is always good and in keeping with the Lord’s wise counsel, “watch and pray so that you may not fall into temptation.” (Matthew 26:41) Listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit and not just the voice that speaks wonders to get into your space. He is always there to guide us as we face new persons who we may approach with a heap of words. And remember: “Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.” (Proverbs 4:24 KJV)
- Guard your heart . . . it is too precious to allow strangers or friends unlimited access. “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23 NASB)
- Think about the substantive things do you have in common? “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3 KJV) Remember, when there is little agreement on subjects of interest, or there is missing the sense of a kindred spirit, or it is only ‘fun’ that you share, it is probably best to proceed with caution.
- Keep in mind that you cannot change a person! “. . . pray for them . . .” (Matthew 5:44 NKJV) You may like them or have fun with them. Whatever the “but” is with people, remember that you cannot change them. You can only pray for people who may hurt you. Allowing them into your inner space is a dangerous move. The nature of a person will eventually become obvious. Let God change people and you pray for them.
- Is this person saved? Can they demonstrate characteristics of the Christian life? Obviously, the lack of this kind of evidence should be noteworthy. It will reveal what may lie beneath the presentation and appearance. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God . . .” (I John 4:1 NKJV).
Finally, it is not the nature of people to hold and keep sacred things that are sacred to you. Therefore, always remember that friendship doesn’t mean that everything about you needs to be known by ‘friends’ nor should your inner sanctum be crowded by people, especially strangers. The Lord will guide us in developing friendships if we have patience to wait on Him through the above suggested steps.
Remember Berk is still a dog!