The older I get, the more I realize just how precious and valuable friends are, so here are three important reminders about the kind of friends we need.
A Friend for Adversity
There’s something about having that one close, personal relationship with a friend. It’s something special to be sure, but it’s more than that. It’s a special bonding of two souls who come together as friends in order to do more together than they ever could alone. Marriages are a great example of that. In marriage, you have two best friends joined together. The two become one, and it is as Solomon wrote, “if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone” (Eccl 4:11), “And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Eccl 4:12). Amos the Prophet asked, “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet” (Amos 3:3), with the obvious answer being no, they cannot. Friends however, manage to do that by overlooking their differences. Proverbs 17 gives us a great biblical picture of what true friendship looks like, and why we need one another in good times and bad. Solomon wrote, “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends” (Prov 17:9), but “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov 17:17). Just like a friend will tell you that you’ve got food stuck on your teeth, a true friend knows you well enough to tell you the truth….even if it hurts, because, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Prov 27:6). The psalmist went so far as to say, “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds” (Psalm 141:5). Friends stick with friends through adversity. That’s what friends do. Some may bail out on you, but that only proves that they are not truly your friend. Your real friends stick closer to you than your real brothers or sisters.
A Friend in Need
God called Abram, and told him, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (Gen 12:1-2), and remarkably, when God called Abram (later, changed to Abraham), Abram didn’t stop to consult with his family, friends or neighbors and ask what they thought about it. It simply says, “Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran” (Gen 12:4). Imagine the faith that took. God called Abraham to go to a place he’d never been too, and possibly never heard of, but it only says Abraham believed God and his belief was accounted to him as righteous (Gen 15:6). That’s why Abraham was called a friend of God (James 2:23). He acted on his belief. Its one thing to state you believe, but the true proof of that belief is stepping out in faith, and believing what God says, even when we don’t see what’s ahead of us. Someday, you may have to ask a friend for help, and do something they might not even understand, or your friend might ask the same of you. The question is, will you believe him or her? If so, you truly are his or her friend.
A Friend in Deed
David and Jonathan might have been the best example of human friendship in the Bible. Even though King Saul was trying to destroy David, knowing he was to be the next king of Israel, Jonathan knew David was in the right, and had been selected by God. Jonathan was helping David and putting his own life at risk. He helped the next king of Israel, David, even though Jonathan would have been the rightful heir to the throne when Saul was gone. That didn’t matter to Jonathan. He thought more of David because of his integrity than what his father the king wanted. Therefore, it says, “As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1 Sam 18:1). Even though “Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David…Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted much in David” (1 Sam 19:1). Even though he risked his own life in trying to help David, “Jonathan told David, “Saul my father seeks to kill you. Therefore be on your guard in the morning. Stay in a secret place and hide yourself” (1 Sam 19:2). We are commanded to love our brothers and sisters, so when a friend needs help and it seems everyone else is against them, true friends step up and into the gap for their friend.
We can have friends in the world, just as long as we’re not friends of the world or with the world. That makes us enemies of God. James warns the young first century believers by writing, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us” (James 4:4-5). I have friends who are not Christian, and even a few atheists who I remain in contact we. We have accepted one another’s believe/disbelief and we can live with the differences. We might not agree about God but this doesn’t mean we have to be disagreeable. One friend who is an atheist is one I’ve even developed a good friendship with. We have a few things in common, and think alike in some ways, but there is no substitute for that one, close, godly friend who will be honest enough with you to speak the truth to you and not be afraid to hurt your feelings if they feel that it can help you. Friends love you enough to tell you the truth, even though it’s not always what you want to hear. We know that Iron sharpens iron (Prov 27:17), and that’s good, because rust never sleeps.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.