Facing Our Frenemy
Karen Ehman

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy." Proverbs 27:6 (ESV)

I am a sap for words and reading. I adore books—their look, the feel of their pages and even their smell. Not content to sit still in a waiting room, I'll pick up anything within reach and read it. Why, I still even read cereal boxes at breakfast!

I especially love to learn new words, thereby increasing my vocabulary. And I am intrigued by the new words that are added to our language as the years go by. Ask any of my forty-something friends. In high school we'd never heard the words Internet, blog or download.

Every so often, dictionaries must be updated with new words or with new meanings to old words. In fact, Merriam-Webster has added more than 100 entries to the latest edition of its Collegiate Dictionary. One of the new words listed in this latest round literally leapt off the page at me. It is the word "Frenemy " Yes, frenemy. It is defined as: One who pretends to be a friend but is actually an enemy.

Sadly, I have had my share of frenemies in my life. Even more discouraging is that sometimes, I have been one.

In middle school there were the girls who I thought liked me and wanted to include me in the popular group. However, they were just pumping me for info on a few of the latest boy-girl crushes. Once they'd garnered their data, they dumped me.

Then there were the athletic boys in high school who seemed to really like me, and wanted to hang around me. As sports editor of the newspaper, I should have known they were just hoping to get a mention in the latest issue of the school publication.

And there were the people I sometimes befriended, but not because I liked them. I didn't. It was because they could get me somewhere or something that I wanted.

Fast forward to today. This era of social networking sites has only given rise to the number of frenemies who come out of the woodwork. I've heard school-aged girls talk about "accepting" someone as a friend on Facebook, not because they like her and really want to be her friend, but to "spy' on her and keep up on what is happening in her life. You know, who she likes, where she goes, who she hangs with.

Even grown women befriend someone on these sites just to nose around, when in all actuality they can't stand the person they are "friends" with. So the backbiting and tongue-wagging continues, all while our posted profile faces smile at each other. False, fake … frenemies.

The worst frenemy, however, is the greatest deceiver of all. He, in his worldly way, promises happiness, but delivers sorrow. He tricks and traps and leaves us regretful of our choices. His ways sparkle and glitter and entice. But in the end, they are dark. Like a lion in sheep's clothing, He comes to steal, kill and destroy. Beware! "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" I Peter 5:8 (ESV). Flirting with the devil in a friendly way NEVER has a happy ending!

Let's take our new vocabulary word today, and vow to be on our toes about frenemies. Let's avoid them and certainly not be a frenemy ourselves. And let's watch out for the biggest one of all—Satan. Our friendships should be pure and honest and true. We should seek to be authentic and real and to bring out the best in our friends. As for our enemies, Jesus told us exactly what to do about them, "But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you" Luke 6:27-28 (ESV).

May God give us that kind of others-centered love, as only He can give.

Dear Lord, keep me watchful for those who do not have my family's best interest or mine at heart. Send me true friends, Make me an authentic friend. Keep me from the snares of the greatest frenemy of all. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit our Everyday Life encouragement page

A Life that Says Welcome by Karen Ehman (check out Karen’s other resources here)

I'll Bring the Chocolate: Satisfying a Woman's Craving for Friendship and Faith by Karen Porter

For more on the friendships of women, visit Karen’s blog –Helping Women Simplify Life and Glorify God

Do I recall a time in my life when I had a frenemy? Once the truth was revealed, how did I feel?

How does society blatantly or subtly encourage women to be frenemies?

Application Steps:
How can I guard myself from being, or having, a false friendship?

When in the past has Satan appeared to be my friend, but in reality had nothing but evil planned for me?

Power Verses:
Psalm 109:3-4, "With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause. In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer." (ESV)

Proverbs 17:17, "A friend loves at all times." (ESV)

© 2009 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Psalm 109:3-4, "With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause. In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer."

This comforts me. I feel so alone sometimes and there is no one I feel I can trust but God alone. I don't even trust myself in choosing who my real friends are as I have been betrayed many times and even I have betrayed myself.

Thank you for a new word. May the Lord help me recognize who my real frenemy in my life, and most of all to know that God will always be my true help.

This is something that i have been pondering lately. I have had several "friend" requests on various social networking sites - from people that i know only want to share info on my life, with others who are hostile towards me, at best.

I have been wondering what Jesus would do... accept anyway? Show them how He has radically changed my life? Too often, cynics enmasse don't see the change, but only scoff.

Also, Jesus told us we are to "be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." (Matt. 10:16) In this light, knowing that these people will never have my interests or friendship at heart, i have thus far chosen to decline. I prefer to keep my name out of the mouths of gossipers.

Still, i am open to the idea of sharing how Jesus has changed my life - and do so, with old friends. They can't believe it. :)

This issue spills over into social scenes, (frenemies in 3D, not online) and i wonder where to draw the line, as far as living openly and not putting up walls that no one will ever be able to cross... and what is just good practice for healthy relationships with boundaries? I am speaking specifically about acquaintances, in-laws, etc. not friends - people who really do not desire friendship, but information to pass on to others. My sister even came up for a name for this, when it’s family: “fauxmily members”.

Blogger joni said...

To Amaris: I have been reading through the following book about boundaries. I would highly recommend it! I too continue to deal with some challenging "fauxmily issues" (what a clever phrase!)
and this book has valuable insight from a Christian perspective.

Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sure can relate to Anonymous #1. I too feel very alone at times. And that the only one I can trust is God himself.
I have admitted this to my husband, and he was amazed that I felt this way. True, we have acquaintances, but it seems that people are too busy or they but up walls beyond the friendly shell. Above having a husband where I have an intimate relationship with; however, I long to have a female friend that I can call a true & authentic friend that "loveth at all times".

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just last night on Facebook I was attacked in a sarcastic manner by a cousin who is supposed to love me. She took an actual Bible verse and twisted it to be ugly towards me. I cried for four hours and my husband prayed with me for peace.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the last comment:
I am very sorry how your cousin treated you like this by twisting scripture. If it is any consolation, the book of Revelation has serious warnings against anyone who adds to or uses scripture for their own benefit. Those who do it, do not read the scripture in context; which is unfortunate, because in most cases, the context usually wasn't meant for those 'particular'cases'.

But that aside, she's your cousin. You love her because she's your flesh and blood. And what she had said stung to the inner-most core. Now the most difficult aspect is the forgiveness part. The question that I have difficulty is, do you forgive that person even if they do not come forward with a contrite heart and ask for forgiveness. Maybe someone can enlighten me in this. I had one pastor who said that you are not obliged to forgive if the person had not asked to be forgiven. (??)

Blogger KNCouture said...

This devotion could not have come at a better time! I was feeling very down yesterday when several of my family members and close friends replied no to a dinner I had planned. I felt as though whenever I invite people to do something they always have something better to do. So the question came, are they my true friends?
I realized that you cannot make people like you or for that matter make them hang out with you. I also realized that sometimes people are just really busy...lol
Thank you for this devotion today!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This definitely hits home. I am going through a very hard time with my mother. One that would never have thought would be an enemy, but is. I have decided to forgive her for my own peace of mind. She doesn't really know how to love anymore because of her hardened-heart. I will pray for her and myself.

As for all those "accepted" friends on the social networking sites... I'm going to be doing a lot of cleaning. Thanks for opening my eyes to what was really happening.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your daily emails really comfort me. This one hit home really hard this afternoon. I had a conversation with a friend not too long ago about frenemies. Its so ironic that its now a real word in the dictionary. Its been around since the beginnings of time. Thank you so much for this. I will be sharing with my daughters. I pray that the Lord will help me to be a good friend because I have betrayed at times and that he helps me to recognize the frenemies in my life.

Blogger Roots and Sprouts said...

I have never heard a message like this before.very well explained! Thanks so much for sharing this.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This goes out to Anonymous who had the question about forgiveness.

I think that reading Luke 6:27-42 will help a great deal in understanding what God has to say about forgiveness.

I believe that God wants us to forgive no matter the circumstances or whether the person ever asks for forgiveness or apologizes. God forgives us and allowed His son to die on that cross so that we would be forgiven for all the sins He knew we would commit. We are asked to show mercy on all our brothers & sisters.

Forgiveness is not easy and doesn't come naturally especially when we are hurt. Only through prayer have I been able to forgive. If we don't then satin is in control...he is the one who wants us to be chained down with anger, resentment, and the feelings of retaliation. God wants us to love and in order to love those who have hurt us we must forgive.

May God help all of us show mercy on others as He has shown mercy on us.

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