Bowling Green, Kentucky
I one of God's gifts to man which makes life more enjoyable is friends. They are among life's most precious possessions. Every man is looking for a close friend. Recently, someone wrote that visitors to the worship services are not looking for a "friendly church"; they are looking for a friend. The Bible has somewhat to say about how to have and be friends.
The Advantage of Having Friends
There are many advantages to having friends. Here are a few of them:
1. They will love you at all times. "A friend loveth at all times . . " (Prov. 17:17). Even when one is not performing at his Sunday best, his friend will still love him - warts and all.
2. They stick closer than a brother. ". . . There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother" (Prov. 18:24). " . . . Better is a neighbor that is near than a brother far off" (Prov. 27:10). Having left home to move hundreds of miles away to preach, I have learned that one's relationship with his friends frequently is more intimate than his relationship with his family members.
3. They rejoice the heart. "Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel" (Prov. 27:9). When one feels low, association with his friends lifts his spirits.
4. They support you in times Of trouble. "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken" (Eccl. 4:9-12).
5. They sharpen the countenance. "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend" (Prov. 27:17). Frances Bacon said, "The best preservative to keep the mind in health is the faithful admonition of a friend."
What A Friend Will Do For You
1. He will rebuke you. "Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful" (Prov. 27:5,6). Because your friend wants to keep you from hurting yourself, he will tell you when and where you are in error.
2. He will show pity to you. Job survived the loss of his possession, the death of his children, the diseases of his body, and the rash advice of his wife without sin. However, when his friends visited him and charged that he was suffering because of his sin, he sinned with his mouth. Job wrote, "To him that is afflicted pity should be shewed from his friend" (Job 6:14).
3. He will support you during adversity. He will be there when you need him to provide help, whether emotional, financial, or spiritual.
4. He will rejoice with you. A friend is there to share your joys. How empty life's pleasures are without someone there with whom to share them. In the parables of Luke 15, the woman who found her loss coin, the man who found his lost sheep, and the man who found his lost son called together their friends to share their joy. Oscar Wilde said, "Anyone can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend's success." However, a true friend will not become envious and jealous at another's success; he will rejoice with him.
5. He will lay down his life for you. Jesus said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Jn. 15:13). He also taught Christian brethren to have this kind of love for one another (1 Jn. 3:16).
How To Make Friends
Sometimes people try to get friends by money. So long as you are willing to give, some will be there to receive. ". . Every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts" (Prov. 19:6; cf. 14:20). However, these kinds of "friends" will disappear when one's money and gifts are gone. Hence, a person cannot buy friends.
In order to have friends, you must do the following:
1. Be friendly. "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly" (Prov. 18:24). What does it mean to "show himself friendly"? That means that you must do what friends do for one another (see section "What A Friend Will Do For You"). To be someone's friend, you must take time to be with that person, get to know him, serve his needs, etc. If you are unwilling to devote your time to doing this, you will be without friends.
2. Be loyal. "Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not" (Prov. 27:10). Be true to your friends. "Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint" (Prov. 25:19).
3. Use gracious speech. No one like's to be with someone who is constantly complaining and speaking gloom. On the other hand, one who makes those around him feel good is loved and his company is desired. "He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend" (Prov. 22:11).
Things Which Destroy Friendship
1. Money. The proverbs warn against being surety for another (Prov. 6:1; 17:18), whether stranger or friend. Many friendships have been destroyed over money. For example, a man loans his friend $200. The man has many other debts which he faithfully pays. The bank sends him a notice to pay his bills, and he pays them. The utility companies send him notices and he pays them. However, his friend is hesitant to mention the debt, lest he embarrass his friend. Because the man receives no notice, he might neglect to pay the bill or put off paying it into the indefinite future. Soon the loaning friend is angry at the friend who has never paid back his loan. Their friendship is broken.
2. Whispering and gossip. A loose tongue will destroy a friendship. ". . . He that repeateth a matter separated very friends" (Prov. 17:9). When a friend confides in you, be trustworthy. If you repeat his confidence to only your "closest" friends, they will tell their "closest" friends, and they in turn tell their "best" friends. Soon the story is known by everyone. Your friend then feels betrayed because you could not keep his secret. Your friendship was broken by your loose tongue.
3. Disloyalty. During Absalom's rebellion against David, one of the disappointments to David was the number of his friends who joined forces with Absalom. Regarding one of them, David lamented, "Yea mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me" (Psa. 41:9). This kind of disloyalty destroys friendships.
4. Negligence. Friendships take time. Going long periods of time without associating with one another causes friendships to wane.
Jonathan And David: Two Close Friends
The record of the friendship of Jonathan and David is a good example of true friendship. Their souls were knit together (1 Sam. 18:1), as they spent time with one another (1 Sam. 18:2). They learned to love each other (1 Sam. 18:3; 20:17). Jonathan preserved David from harm and intervened in his behalf to his father (1 Sam. 19:2,3). Jonathan's loyalty to David caused him to stand against his father, Saul (1 Sam. 20:1-10). His father was angry because he knew that Jonathan could never be king over Israel so long as David was alive. Although Jonathan recognized this, he still loved David (1 Sam. 20:31). His being "second fiddle" to David did not destroy their friendship. They had strong affection for one another (1 Sam. 23:16-18). When Saul and Jonathan were slain in battle, David lamented the death of his friend saying,
How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places. I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women (2 Sam. 1:23-26).
After Jonathan had died, David made sure that his children did not want (2 Sam. 9).
My family has been blessed by our friends. They have always given us more than they have taken from us. We enjoy their company, share our joys and sorrows, and encourage one another in Christ. Thank God for our friends!
Guardian of Truth XXX: 22, pp. 674, 696