There Is A Friend
“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly:
and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
One of the great blessings that is often brought to mind that we thank the Lord for is the wonderful treasure of friendship. I want to share a few thoughts with you about being a true friend.
The Bible gives us guidelines for every area of life, and friendship is no exception. My husband often says, “I can’t decide to have a friend. I can only decide to be a friend.” I have no control of how others treat me and whether or not they are loyal to me, but I do have the choice about how I treat others with care and respect and do them good through my friendship to them.
As ladies, we sometimes feel keenly the need for a real friend. Yet there are times in life when there is no friend nearby, or we cannot share the details of our heartaches and needs with someone else. All the time, and especially at those times, we need to benefit from the real relationship that’s available to us everyday, with the Lord Jesus Christ as our nearest and dearest Friend.
What kind of Friend is Jesus? He is not only the greatest Friend we can have, but He is also the greatest pattern for friendship that exemplifies and challenges us in what we ought to be for others.
A Friend Is Someone Who Sticks Close “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24) The first principle here is the friendliness or ‘friend-likeness’ of a friend. We know instinctively what that means, at least some of the qualities that make for a good friend. A friend is kind, caring, compassionate, concerned. To be gruff, unfeeling and sharp-tongued might look cute on ‘Maxine’ cartoons, but not when you’re in need of a friend. And the easiest way to make friends is to be friendly and caring with those that you meet. Since ‘No one ever cared for me like Jesus,’ He is the Ultimate Example of what we ought to be as a friend.
The friendship of Jesus shines out especially when it comes to sticking by our side through thick and through thin. “...there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Regardless of our failures and weaknesses, Jesus never turns His back on us. He is always there when we need Him. He is faithful and He is forgiving, whether we deserve it or not. When those we love are in need, they need us to be faithful in sticking by their side, and forgiving when their faults and failures are showing through. Even when (and especially when) my tough spots have been created by my own dumbness, Jesus still loves me and forgives me and sticks with me.
One of the most precious word pictures of friendship is found in Proverbs 27:6. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” A real friend, even when we’ve hurt them, is still a faithful and loving friend. But an enemy, even when making display of affection, is working to harm us. A Christ-like friend is so completely faithful, that even the wounds he has received from us will resonate with faithfulness in friendship and not be quick to turn against us.
“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” The love of a friend does not go up and down like a thermometer with our successes and failures. A friend loveth at all times, the good times and bad times, the times when we deserve it and the times when we don’t and everything in between. Jesus is a faithful, constant, unchanging Friend to me, and I need to learn to be that kind of faithful friend to others, as well.
A Friend is Someone Who Cares Enough To Listen. “O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.” (Psalm 65:2) Here we find one of the identifying names of the Lord. ‘Thou that hearest prayer...’ The Lord invites and encourages us to come to Him with every need and heartache. He cares enough to listen and He also has the power to answer our prayers and meet our needs. How many times have we thought, “If only I had someone to talk to...” and forgotten that Jesus is right there with us, waiting and wanting us to pour our hearts out to Him?
While we don’t have the power to answer prayer, we can sometimes meet needs for a needy friend, and the Bible instructs us to be need-meeters in every way we have opportunity. “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.” (Proverbs 3:27-28) “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10)
But something we can always do to meet the need of a friend is be willing to listen and to care. We may sometimes be intimidated by our inability to solve the problem or change the circumstances, but often the greatest need is for someone to just listen with an understanding heart.
A Friend Is Someone Who Knows Your Heart. Jesus is the kind of Friend Who knows your heart more intimately than anyone else can. He sees the depth of heartache and understands your circumstances. He knows our hearts much better than we understand ourselves, as a matter of fact. As humans, we are not even capable of knowing the heart of someone else in the same way Christ can, yet we are able to ‘put ourselves in the shoes of another,’ and sympathize with those who are hurting. “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” (Romans 12:15) A Christ-like friend hurts with their hurting and rejoices in their victories, caring enough to look deeper than the surface to the heart.
Jesus promised to take our burdens and cares and bear them for us. First Peter 5: 7 says, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” Though I can’t always lift the load from the shoulders of my friend completely, the Bible says that I can help them and make that load more bearable. “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) A victory shared is twice as sweet, while a burden shared is only half as heavy.
A Real Friend is Someone Who Always Provides Godly Counsel and Influence. I guess this is the greatest need I see among Christians, and it’s not just the teenagers, either. So often there is someone at an important cross-roads in life, or facing a major trial. They are at a ‘make-you-or-break-you’ juncture in their life, but when they seek the advice of a friend, they often get the most damaging kind.
Anytime we are contributing to the rebellion or bitterness of someone who is already fighting a battle in that area, we are contributing to their destruction. Anytime we encourage them in a wrong direction, we’re hurting and not helping them as a friend. How many times I have failed to be a godly influence when I’ve had opportunity in the past. I’m begging the Lord to help me be more aware of those opportunities and more Christ-like in my response.
Jesus is the kind of Friend Whose counsel is always right and beneficial and in tune with the Word of God, if we’ll just come to Him and ask Him for it. When we, as friends, are given the opportunity to give counsel and encouragement to a friend in need, we need to make sure it’s in tune with God and with right, and realize that we will someday have to face those words at the Judgment Seat of Christ. “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36)
My friend doesn’t just need me to tell her what she wants to hear, she needs me to tell her the truth, and encourage her in doing the right thing, and keeping a right heart.
So many of the verses in the Bible that refer to human friendship are talking about this communication of friend to friend, and our responsibility to be a builder and not a destroyer. Romans 14:19 says all of our friendly conversations ought to be constructive, not destructive. “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” To edify means to build up or strengthen. Could my conversations fall into that category? Often, talking out a situation or problem with a friend can help us to see it more clearly, and come to the right conclusions and solutions. “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” (Proverbs 27:17)
I guess one of the most important points of all is that my influence on my friends ought to bring them joy, not despair and depression. My influence ought to have a positive impact. That can happen as much from my attitude as from my actions or advice. “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.” (Proverbs 27:9) I don’t need to poison my friends with my bitterness and jealousy and envy and selfishness and worldliness. I need to get my heart right with God and my mind bathed in Bible, so that when they are in need of the ministry of friendship, their input from me can have a positive, instead of negative, effect on their life.
Jonathan was that kind of godly friend whose influence and impact was to make his friend stronger spiritually. “And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.” (1Samuel 23:16)
On the flip side, we can see the disastrous results of ungodly friends and their wicked counsel in the life of Amnon, David’s son. “And it came to pass after this, that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her. And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do any thing to her. But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother: and Jonadab was a very subtil man. (2 Samuel 13:1-3)
It goes on to detail the wicked counsel of Jonadab as he gives step by step instructions on how to violate his conscience and transgress against God and against his family. Amnon’s wicked friend gave him influence and advice to do wrong that cost him his life and damaged his family.
We need to always remember the principle that we become like those we spend time with, and be careful that we do not allow ourselves to form close ties of friendship with those who are unsaved or away from the Lord. “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” (Proverbs 13:20) That’s not just a reminder for our children and teenagers. Many adult Christian ladies have been destroyed because of the ungodly influence in their lives that they thought they were immune to.
You never really know if you have a friend until you need one. Brother Hyles was known to say that he was blessed to have lived long enough to know who his real friends were. In the past few years, we have been very blessed by the encouragement and support of friends, and thanked the Lord repeatedly for the privilege of being friends with so many of His choice servants around the country. If the Lord tarries and allows me to live long enough, I hope to be that kind of friend and encouragement and support to others when they need it the most.
Jesus is our pattern for friendship, and He also wants to be our closest Friend. Have you talked to Him today? Have you thought about how much He loves you? Have you ever stopped to realize that He needs and asks for you to be a friend to Him in return? “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (John 15:14) “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
By obedience to Christ’s commands and caring about what brings Him pain and what brings Him pleasure, by spending time in fellowship with Him, we have the opportunity to be a friend to the greatest Friend of all.
I’ve always wanted to be your friend
And when needed I’d be around,
But when you reached your neediest time
I was nowhere near to be found.
How glad was I, as I knelt in prayer,
While shedding a tear or two,
To know that the Dearest Friend of all
Was standing right next to you.
If I had been there when you needed me
I’d have done everything that I could
To help and protect you, to come to your aid,
Just the way any friend would.
But I know that my feeble humanity might
Fail to be all that you need,
So thankful am I that the Strength of our Friend
Is more than enough --- guaranteed.
I know that I might not be all that you need
As a friend, and a Christian, I fail,
And I can’t always be there wherever you go
But I surely know Someone Who will!
He’s always near, no matter what fear
Or heartache or problems befall.
Closer than a brother, like Him there’s no other,
Always there whenever you call.
Dear Jesus, the Closest and Dearest of Friends,
The strongest and mightiest, too,
Who loves you more than all others can
Always present, and faithful, and true.
He’s always with you wherever you go
No matter what perils you face.
I’m so thankful today that my Friend is your Friend,
Who guides and protects by His grace.
So dear friend, as I prayerfully think of you now,
And thank the dear Lord up above,
I write these few words to just let you know,
That you have not just His, but my love.
And though mine is much less important, it still
Is real from the depths of my heart.
How sweet for two friends to share this precious Friend
Who will never forsake or depart.