Friends are people who stick by you no matter what happens. They care about you. They love you. They understand you. They rejoice with you. They suffer with you.
Every family needs friends. You need friends who inspire you to be true to God and to your ideals. You need friends who will not over look your faults and your mistakes, who will correct and encourage you in a positive way. “Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil” (Psalm 141:5).
Friendship implies a close, intimate, open, ongoing relationship. God spoke to Moses as a man speaks to his friend (Exodus 33:11). Abraham was known as the friend of God. He believed God and talked with Him. He walked with God and obeyed Him. Abraham entrusted his life into the hands of the all-powerful God and received the reward of God’s friendship.
Great men and women of the Bible surrounded themselves with close friends. A little known man named Hushai was King David’s friend. When David’s son Absalom betrayed his father and treacherously seized the kingdom from his father, God used Hushai to give Absalom advice that led to his defeat.
One of the best Bible stories of true friendship is the account of a young man named Jonathan who befriended David. Jonathan was the son of King Saul who was David’s archenemy. Jonathan was the heir to his father’s throne but willingly ceded that to David and stood with David when his father tried to kill him. This friendship lasted to the next generation. After Jonathan died, David cared for Jonathan’s son as if he were one of his own sons.
Jesus Christ, while on earth, surrounded Himself with an inner circle of close friends. Three of them, Peter, James, and John, accompanied Him on missions that witnessed the intense love, power, and struggle of the Son of God. Though these friends sometimes failed Christ, He never failed them.
The Impact of a Father’s Friends
“Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not” (Proverbs 27:10).
I can never thank God enough for my father’s friends. My father was accidentally killed when I was one year old. I have no recollections of him, but his close friends made a positive impact on my life. They constantly looked out for the needs of my widowed mother and nine siblings. Not a week went by but that one of them would stop by and make sure our needs were met.
My father’s friends were godly men. They lived by Biblical principles and encouraged us to make right choices in life. They were wise men. They taught us and showed us by example, that truth is strong and that love is more powerful than hate. They taught us that self-sacrifice is more honorable than self-interest. They demonstrated the proverb that says, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).
My father’s friends provided a community of suitable companions who cared about our morals, ethics, and social behavior. As young people, we needed people to warn us of the spiritual dangers that faced us. The watchful eye of these caring friends was a deterrent to wrong living and a positive pressure to bring out the best in us.
The Influence of a Mother’s Friends
My mother’s friends were sympathetic, devout, and modest women. They conscientiously obeyed 1 Timothy 5:14, “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.” They did not flaunt themselves indecently or spurn their husbands’ authority. Their adornment was an inner beauty, “the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4).
My mother’s friends made their home’s attractive places to visit. We felt peace, security, and contentment when we were there. Their hospitality made us feel welcome. Their reserve excited no lust or passion. Their tenderness added beauty to life. They impressed us with their marriage relationships, showing us that marriage can be pure and wholesome as God intended it to be.
My mother’s friends encouraged my mother, who had to carry the weight of raising ten children without a husband to help her. They counseled her and helped her in her heavy responsibility.
The Treachery of False Friends
Beware of the flattery and enticement of false friends. He is no friend who smiles at evil or suggests compromising principles at the expense of truth. King David’s son, Amnon, had such a friend, his first cousin. This cousin advised Amnon to commit incest with his half sister Tamar. The consequences were a disgraced Tamar, an angry father, a bitter brother, and a dead son.
The Biblical wise man admonished his son to make no friendship with an angry man(Proverbs 22:24). The Apostle Paul warned his friends that “evil communications [companionship] corrupt good manners” (1 Corinthians15:33).The Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, suffered the betrayal of Judas, who claimed to be His friend. He knew the pain of such treachery.
Find Good Friends
Where can you go to find good friends? It seems that the world is full of falsehood and treachery. You can be sure of finding good friends when you accept and follow Jesus Christ, the Son of God who loves us all and gave His life for us. Even if we have few other friends, He offers a friendship that brings us peace and happiness we could never experience otherwise. When we follow Jesus Christ, we become part of a group of people who also follow Him. We become part of the family of God the Bible calls “the household of faith.” We need to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and seek friendship and encouragement from His people. We need to seek a household of faith, church, and Christian friends who obey the Bible, live by its principles, and encourage and stand by each other through life’s struggles.
Be Worthy of Good Friends
“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly” (Proverbs 18:24). True friendship is reciprocal. You cannot expect more than you can give. Take time each day to be a faithful friend and pray for your friends. Write a letter of sympathy and encouragement to the friend who is hurting. Make the phone call to distant friends who need to know that someone cares. Provide a meal for a busy man or a sick neighbor.
True friendship crosses over racial and cultural barriers. It knows no age limit. Befriend the elderly and the feeble. Take your children with you when you visit them. I am amazed at the expression of pleasure in the face of an elder person when he meets an infant or child. It helps them forget their pain and focus on others.
Being a true friend is a good example for those you influence. It helps them know how to be good friends and also what kind of friends to choose. Eternity will reveal the impact of true friendship. May we be good friends and find good friends to encourage us through life. Most importantly, may we find the greatest friend of all, Jesus Christ who “is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
-by J. Luke Martin