I am sure you have heard of the phrase “Friends with benefits”. It means that you are friends with someone and that friendship offers you some fringe benefits. Get your minds out of the gutter and go with me on this. Friendships are based on a relational connection, a mutual liking of the other person. When that other person is also able to fill some need or to provide some service that benefits you, you now have “Friends with benefits”.
There is nothing wrong with friendships that provide benefits. In fact, one of the very reasons that we have been created, as social creatures, is so that we will rely on each other to fulfill certain needs. Not everything in this life can be handled all by yourself. It is a basic truth that we need each other. Friendships simply provide an opportunity to not only have a relational connection with someone, but it also provides you with benefits that you wouldn’t or couldn’t experience on your own.
Understanding this reality, I want to turn this phrase around. This would seem to be merely a semantical switch, but it truly represents so much more. It represents a cold-heartedness which is rendered in someone’s life as basic selfishness. Have you ever heard of “Benefits with friends”? Unlike “Friends with benefits”, where the friendship comes first, “Benefits with friends” seeks the benefits first. The friendship is seen merely as collateral damage. The friendship is nothing more than a means to an end. Thus, when the end is achieved, the need is filled, the benefit has been rendered, the friendship is no longer seen as useful. That is, until the benefit is once again desired.
The following is my standard disclaimer: If you read that last paragraph and you realized that you have “Benefits with friends” in your life, don’t beat yourself up. Each and every single one of us have fallen into this trap. The goal is to give yourself permission to get real. To be real with God so that God can be real with you. In this realness you will find healing, peace and transformation. It is this transformation that is the goal. Not the brow beating that we so often give ourselves when we realize that we have fallen short in any way.
In light of this realization, what is a poor boy or girl to do? In order to overcome this “Benefits with friends” reality, one must begin by focusing in on a specific relationship. Don’t try to eat the entire elephant in one bite! Now, this one relationship can’t be just any relationship. There is one specific relationship that requires your attention, if you ever have a dream of beating back your “Benefits with friends” way of living. That one relationship is with Jesus. Yes, I know that this is a very preachery thing to say, but again, go with me on this.
Chances are very good that you came to a saving relationship with Jesus because you needed something. There was some benefit that you desired, thus you became friends with Jesus in order to get it. Maybe you came into a relationship with Jesus because you wanted forgiveness? Maybe you came into a relationship with Jesus because you wanted to go to heaven? Maybe you came into a relationship with Jesus because you wanted to make your parents happy? There is no shame in acknowledging that you started your relationship with Jesus because you were seeking some benefit. The question for you now is this: Are you still in a “Benefits with friends” relationship with Jesus? Do you enjoy Jesus, as long as he is giving you the benefits that you desire? Or has your relationship with Jesus transformed into a “Friends with benefits” relationship? Are you in a relationship with Jesus because you love Jesus as your friend, who just so happens to also be your Lord and Savior? Get this relationship right and all the rest of your relationships will fall in line!