Sunday, August 9, 2009

How To Tell Fake Friends From True Friends

How To Tell Fake Friends From True Friends

By Johnny Lee Clary

Have you ever found it hard to distinguish or discern who are your real friends and who are your fake friends? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. I remember a great song in the early 70’s called “Smiling Faces.” It was by “The Undisputed Truth.”

Smiling faces sometimes pretend to be your friend
Smiling faces show no traces of the evil that lurks within
Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
They don't tell the truth uh
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof

The truth is in the eyes
Cause the eyes don't lie, amen
Remember a smile is just
A frown turned upside down
My friend let me tell you
Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
They don't tell the truth, uh
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof
Beware, beware of the handshake
That hides the snake
I'm telling you beware
Beware of the pat on the back
It just might hold you back
Jealousy (jealousy)
Misery (misery)

I tell you, you can't see behind smiling faces
Smiling faces sometimes they don't tell the truth
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof

Your enemy won't do you no harm
Cause you'll know where he's coming from
Don't let the handshake and the smile fool ya
Take my advice I'm only try' to school ya

I think we could all learn a lesson from that song. Memorize it. As the song says, you know where your enemy is coming from but the one you have to watch out for is the one who claims to be your friend when all the while they are fixing to stab you in the back. It is nothing new. It happens to all of us. It also happened to King David in the Bible. Psalm 41:9 “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Remember it also happened to Jesus when his close friend Judas, who traveled with him for three years, ate at his table and took of his bread, betrayed Christ in the worst way, by selling Him out for money!

“Friend deceives friend, and no one speaks the truth. They have taught their tongues to lie; they weary themselves with sinning.” (Jeremiah 9:5)

I cannot count how many times in my life, both before Christ and many times after becoming a Christian, I have had people that I considered friends betray me. Christians are just as bad if not worse than the non-Christians when this happens, especially in ministry. People are jealous, they have envy and for some reason or another they set out to destroy your ministry and they use the name of the Lord to do it. It is disgusting. Anyone who tries to shut down someone else’s ministry is of the Devil and not of God. Satan is the accuser of the brethren and when someone who claims to know Jesus as their Savior goes after another Christian in an attempt to shut them down, destroy their reputation, or assails their character, they are doing the will of their father the devil. (John 8:44-47)

When you destroy someone else’s reputation, you have in effect, committed murder because you have stopped that person from carrying on the plans of God and kept souls from being saved. If there was something wrong with them, God is big enough to stop them and He does not need character assassins to do His job for Him. The bible says “Everyone who hates another believer is a murderer, and you know that a murderer doesn't have eternal life.” (1 John 3:15) Oh some will try to justify it by saying that they are just protecting the church and are doing this because they have judged the person they are going after evil, but the truth is they have set themselves up as judge, jury and executioner and they can call it love for the church all they want, but like Shakespeare said “a rose by any other name is still a rose” and hate by any other name is still hate. That is why Jesus said by their actions, the fruit or what they produce you will know them. (Matthew 7:16)

You don’t need fake friends in your life, you need true friends. My spiritual father of the faith Pastor Marvin Cain once told me “A true friend is someone who knows everything there is to know about you and still stands by you anyway.” He told me that if you go through life and you only have 5 true friends in your entire lifetime, then you are truly a blessed person because some people don’t even get one.

So how do we tell the true friends from the fake friends? Watch for signs.

Are they distancing themselves from you? Do they call as much or come around as much?
A good way to put it to the test is start saying “no.” Fake friends will lose their use for you if you stop paying their bills, watching their kids for free and running them around town, or loaning them money. If they stop coming around or calling, that tells you that they were only your friend to get what they can out of you. In other words, using you.
Who wants a friend that is going to be a leach all the time?

Fake friends enjoy putting others right smack dab in the middle of their dramas. Cut conversations short that deal with your fake friend's usual complaints and negative things that might be said especially if it comes to other friends of yours. You could try saying, “I really don’t care to hear the negative, so let’s just talk positive.” I promise you that fake friends will abandon you if they know they can’t talk negative and spread gossip and slander around you. True friends will agree with you. It's the lies, gossip, slander, and putting others down that make fake friends feel good about themselves because they have a low self esteem and they would rather take the focus off of themselves by assassinating someone else’s character. You don’t need people like that around you. Fake friends have a hard time hanging around people who have a good self esteem because people who actually feel good about themselves won’t put up with them. “Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.”
Ed Cunningham

I had a friend that I thought was one of the most loyal friends I ever had. Then I noticed that this friend began to hang around and befriend one of my enemies that has caused great harm to me. I realize that is my friend’s prerogative to pick his friends, just like it is my prerogative to distance myself from this friend. How can you trust someone who pals around with someone who looks for every opportunity to cause you harm? I grew up in the roughest section of East L.A. where the gangs ruled the streets. You were known by your loyalty. If you either hung with or were a member of a certain gang, and then decided to be friends with or hung around someone from another gang, you could not be trusted. You could get your head kicked in if you were discovered hanging with the enemy. What if you were at war? Could you trust a fellow soldier if you saw him consorting with and hanging around Muslim terrorists? I hardly think so!

I also found out that a good friend betrayed me by sharing things about me with people who wish to do me harm. Trust is what holds a friendship together. If you can’t trust someone to keep things about you in confidence then you can’t trust them period and you don’t need friends like that. Proverbs 11:13 says a true trustworthy friend will keep confidence, so those who don’t are not your friend.

Trust me on this one, nothing hurts more than having people that you consider true friends betray you. Sometimes it feels like a knife was just stuck in your back. Yes it hurts, but what one must realize is that you are better off without people like that in your life. Is that person your friend when they are around you but then do they join with your enemies when you are not around? I remember when I found out that a friend named Kim that I had for 6 years had joined forces with one of my enemies and had worked with him in order to cause great harm to me, it hurt really bad. I did however talk to one of my best friends in the world named Emily and she pointed out that I should have seen the signs coming. Kim had been arguing with me and had been repeating some of the same things my enemy had been saying and questioning my integrity. However, for friendship sake, I had kept Kim as my friend until I figured out she was on the side of and had befriended my enemy. Emily then gave me the best advice in the world and said, “Cut her out of the loop.” Emily was right. It reminded me of something I have said for years and that is I would rather have 5 people that I know will fight by my side in a war instead of 5000 who say they will but at the first sound of gunfire they run away like cowards. They do you no good. What you need is true loyal friends even if the numbers are small.

Now something else to remember is as one so-called friend who betrays you is heart wrenching, the second friend who betrays you can cause you hurt much harder if you allow it to. The key is not to allow it to happen. DO NOT allow the situation to run through your mind over and over because it will dominate your thoughts and steal your joy. In the words of the late John Gotti, “Forgetaboutit!” Don’t give the person that betrayed you the satisfaction of domination your mind. Put them out of your mind and let the jerks be miserable with themselves.

It is important to remember not to listen to people who say “Don’t ever trust anyone ever again.” Trust is the key that holds a friendship together. That does not mean that we are supposed to stand out there on the railroad tracks and let the same train hit us again. Get some new friends.

Here are some steps you can take towards letting yourself become stronger the next time a fake friend betrays you.

• Let the realization of the betrayal sink in but don’t go over it in your mind anymore than three times.
• Think about the person who betrayed you. Have they done this to others? Is it a pattern with them? How many others have been damaged by this person?
• If someone betrays you twice it is highly likely there’ll be a third time so why place yourself in that position? Dump them and have nothing else to do with them.
• In this life you will meet a lot of people who you might attempt to bring closer to you as a friend whom you would like to include in your loop of close friends. You probably won’t have much luck asking someone to change their behavior even if you describe the ill effects it has on you because people take offense and may just avoid you altogether if you go that route. Only you can decide if you want that person in your loop of close friends or whether it would be best to keep that person at a safe distance.
• A good rule of thumb is to evaluate the person and decide if they encourage you or discourage you.
• When you are hanging around someone who claims to be your friend, do they build you up or criticize you?People need appreciation. They need to know that you appreciate them. Often we are quick to criticize but slow to commend. Let’s make it the opposite. Sincerely commend them when they do something right. Even better, commend them publicly.
• You have three choices in dealing with potential friends. You can change how YOU act toward that person, you can accept their behavior, or you can avoid all contact with that person.

It is very important to forgive but that does not mean you have to let them back in your life. Be willing to forgive despite your anger. Forgive them for not keeping your trust and not knowing how to treat friends. You may need to forgive them, even if they are not sorry for what they did. This is key to getting past your anger towards them and not harboring grudges. Forgiveness is letting go of the need for revenge and releasing negative thoughts of bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness does not mean it is OK what they did to you. Forgiveness is not reconciliation. We have to make a separate decision about whether to reconcile with the person we are forgiving or whether to maintain our distance. Sometimes one betrayal can be a total misunderstanding or accidental, but usually never twice. If that person was sincere about being sorry the first time then they would have proceeded with caution to make sure they didn’t do it again. You do not have to reconcile with them. You have every right to protect yourself from further victimization by cutting them out of your life completely. Forgiveness is not giving permission to continue hurtful behaviors; nor is it condoning the behavior in the past or in the future. Forgiveness is not forgetting or pretending it didn’t happen. It did happen, and we need to retain the lesson learned without holding onto the pain. Forgiveness is not excusing. We excuse a person who is not to blame. We forgive because a wrong was committed.

Forgiveness is releasing that person who betrayed you to God and allow Him to deal with them. He will deal with them and give back to them according to what they have done. (Luke 6:38 and Isaiah 59:18)

In summary, A true friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.

Henry Ford once said, “My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.”
A true friend wants to see the people around them live up to their maximum potential. You can do this by helping your friends recognize and develop their personal strengths.


Rev. Johnny Lee Clary is one of the leading advocates for racial unity in the United States and has appeared on countless television and radio shows such as The Billy Graham Radio show, Fox News, Morris Cerullo, Oprah, Morton Downey Jr., Rolanda Watts, Geraldo, Sally Jesse Raphael, Jerry Springer, Ricki Lake, Queen Latifah, Montel Williams, Phil Donahue, A&E Investigative Reports, ABC World News Tonight, Bertrice Berry, The Today Show, A Current Affair, The 700 Club, and Kenneth Copeland's TV show. He has also been a regular guest on TBN's Praise The Lord show and has been featured in America's top newspapers and magazines, including a seven page feature story in Charisma magazine in April 1999, Moody Magazine, Guidepost Magazine (Sept. 1998), Kenneth Copeland's Believer's Voice of Victory magazine, as well as appearances on TV programs in Australia, England, Holland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, and Wales.


  1. Thankyou for sharing from the heart Johnny, only a person who has truly suffered can speak with such conviction and wisdom. God bless you and I pray your only friends are those who deserve such a faithful friend and uphold you in your daily life and ministry in Jesus name. much love always, your sister in the Lord, Lynn, Canberra Australia

  2. Thank you for putting pen to paper. This is filled with great pearls of wisdom. God bless you as you continue to do His word and speak the Truth and encourage us in our walk. You are so inspirational. Awesome!

  3. I just came across this, looking for some sort of answer as to how I deal with the pain of betrayal of a couple I considered friends. Betrayed twice I am feeling quite foolish. Great words here. Thanks for sharing, and for giving me confidence to keep looking for true friends.
    Blessings to you!

  4. Johnny, thanks for being open about your personal life and integrating scriptures and other quotes on recognizing our true friends. I was praying earlier and inquiring to God about this. Certain things that I have put on the back burner comes to mind circling around and I just wanted to put a stop to it. It was church-related also. I could not make sense of why I was being treated differently by certain sisters in Christ at church and if I was the problem. Reading your article has helped me realize that if out of my heart I had good intentions, then I should not be wasting time taking things personally. I also am more able after reading your article to feel at ease at taking measures to set boundaries without feeling guilty about certain people in my life. It's about respecting and nurturing myself so that I can maintain the joy of the Lord and give generous of his love to others.

  5. Dear Mr. Clary: Thanks for this insightful article. I went looking for a Biblical article about friend betrayal because it happened to me TODAY. A lady who I thought was my best friend snooped into some private information at my house and the used it to take a shot at me. It hurt me deeply. She is very obviously jealous of my marriage and the ministry my husband and I have. Your article (along with my husband's prayers) really helped soothed my pain today. Thanks and keep writing - you are helping!

  6. Thanks for this article. I was just betrayed by a dear friend--for the second time. My heart aches but at least I know she will never have the opportunity to hurt me again. I forgive her because I realize she may not know the true definition of a friend. May God be with us all. God Bless.