“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17
One of the areas congregations of the Lord Jesus Christ need to consistently keep in check and work on is friendship within the covenant community of God’s people. Helpfulness, hospitality, friendship. These are all areas where we need to reach out, some times break out of our comfort zones, and make honest efforts to establish and grow friendships with our brothers and sisters with whom we worship each week. This is true for people of all ages. Today, I’ll be focusing on friendship.
It’s easy to connect with existing friends and those we’re close with. However, I want to also encourage you to reach out to visitors and others who aren’t a part of your current relationships. Are there people in our congregation who you’ve seen, but don’t know? I encourage you to reach out to them, build relationships, deepen your bonds.
The following are some texts and commentary to encourage you in this idea of friendship.
- “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17. To be friends we need to be people of consistent character. The phrase, “A friend loves at all times.” reminds us of wedding vows, “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.” There’s a reason for this. Friendship involves a covenant relationship of trust and love.
- Our Lord Jesus Christ told us that because of sin, friendship would become a rare thing. “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Matthew 24:12. We see this in our own day as Christians we are called to persevere in love and friendship.
- “A man that has friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24. In order to have friends, we need to make friends. We need to be friendly. It’s also true that one faithful friend is of more benefit to us than many surface, fair-weather friends. The Lord Jesus Christ is our ultimate faithful friend. He’s the friend that has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.
- “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Proverbs 27:6). “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Revelation 3:19). Correction is painful to receive but does much good and is a mark of true love.
- “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so does the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel. Your own friend, and your father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into your brother’s house in the day of your calamity: for better is a neighbor that is near than a brother far off.” (Proverbs 27:9-10) These verses remind us that there’s a sweetness to friendship. A friend will want to see God’s best in your life and will try to always give you good and helpful advice. But even the best advice will need to be taken to God’s word to make sure that it’s the right way to go. Friends can sometimes get things wrong, even if their intentions are good. But we should be able at least to know that our friends have the best for us in view when they share their thoughts. We need to have the same goal also when we counsel others.
- Another good reminder is that we shouldn’t take old friendships for granted. An old tree in order to survive and bear fruit needs to be watered too. “Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” (Proverbs 27:17) When iron sharpens iron there will occasionally be sparks. Friends can disagree. Sometimes it can be pretty strong. Remember the Apostle Paul’s disagreement with his friend and colleague Barnabas in Acts 15:1-2.
- “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lays down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) We know that this is a clear description of Christ’s love and work. This also means that if we would be friends with God and His people, it may cost us plenty. If we understand the treasure of friendship in Christ, that cost will seem small. An old Latin proverb says, ““Amicus vitae solatium.” (“A friend is the comfort of life.”) We need friends, and need to be friends that have such sacrificial love.
May the Lord be pleased to teach us the beauty of covenant friendship in Christ our Lord.