A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24
No one likes to feel alone and without a friend. We all recognize the importance of friendship and the priceless gift that a true friend can be. Deep friendship—the kind marked by consistency, honesty, and sensitivity—is the standard which the Bible holds up to us.
Solomon says that a true friend is always loyal, regardless of circumstances: “A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17). We see our friends exactly as they are, and we still remain consistent in our loyalty to them. Furthermore, sincere friends are prepared to wound in order that their friends might become all that God intends them to be: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (27:6). We may not particularly like it, but each of us is in need of friends who will hold us accountable when we err—and each of us is called to be that kind of friend, too.
We must also consider our use of language: as Paul says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up … that it may give grace” (Ephesians 4:29). You can break a heart with just a word, and it can take a lifetime to repair it.
Men and women who take these principles seriously may find themselves asking, “Is there really any friend who embodies such characteristics? Is there anyone that I know who is always constant, who rebukes me in love, who will show grace and sensitivity in all of their dealings with me?” And the answer to those questions is found, ultimately, in the person of Christ. The scope of the Lord Jesus’ friendship is amazing! He befriended the strangest individuals—stopping under a tree to speak with a tax collector, asking for water from an immoral woman, reaching out to a leper. He was consistent in His love; He was prepared to speak words of truth, however challenging; He built others up. Supremely, He is the one who loved His friends enough to lay down His life for them (John 15:13). He is the friend of sinners:
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Joseph Medlicott Scriven, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” (1855).
Jesus’ friendship is the golden standard for ours. As friends of Christ, we are called to love and befriend others as He did. In fact, Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14). We are to seize every opportunity to share the extent of His friendship with those who are friendless and forlorn.
We live in a world where acquaintances are often countless and “Facebook friends” are many. But that is not true friendship. Do you have friends who are constant, close, and Christlike? If you do, cherish them. If you do not, pray for some. And today, be that kind of friend to others. You may just be the answer to someone’s loneliness or the protection from someone’s ruin.
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