by Justin Cooper
John 15:13-14 says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”
We will find no greater example or case-study in Christian friendship than we will find as we study the life of Christ. Jesus was the perfect friend. In Him we find our example of how to be a friend, as well as attributes that we ought to look for in finding a true friend.
In Proverbs 18:24, Solomon makes the statement, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”
The hymn “What a Friend We have in Jesus” was made popular in D.L. Moody’s revival campaigns, but it was written by a man named Joseph Scriven many years before Moody discovered it. Scriven was a good man. He had devoted his life to caring for the less fortunate. He took a vow of poverty to help the less fortunate. Scriven fell in love with a young lady. The day before their wedding, the young lady drowned. A few years later, Scriven was again in love. His new fiancé, Eliza Rice, fell sick and she died before the two could be married. Ten years later, Scriven’s mother passed away and he was unable to be at her side due to his impoverished condition of living. The hymn he wrote was birthed from his deep trial and his finding that in that trial he had a Friend!
“Jesus is all the world to me: My life, my joy, my all.
He is my strength from day to day; Without Him I would fall.
When I am sad, to Him I go; No other one can cheer me so.
When I am sad, He makes me glad; He’s my Friend.”
“Jesus! what a friend for sinners! Jesus! lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me, He, my Savior, makes me whole.”
If we utilize Jesus as our example of perfect friendship, we will find that friendship is defined in short by:
- Selflessness, as seen in Jesus being our Shepherd.
- Wisdom, as seen in Jesus being our Wonderful Counselor.
- Sacrifice, as seen in Jesus being our Passover Lamb.
- Compassion, as seen in Jesus being our Great Physician.
- Loyalty, as seen in Jesus being our Advocate and Intercessor.
Friendship is a Biblical relationship. It is a beneficial relationship. It is a help and a blessing, especially to those who are in the ministry. The loneliest place we will find ourselves is often in the work of God! We will need friends.
I ought to choose to be friendly toward everybody, but I cannot be friends with just anybody. When it comes to friendliness we ought to cast a wide net. When it comes to real friendships we must set more narrow standards.
I must remember that friendships are extras. My walk with God and my relationship with Him is foremost. I cannot be friendship driven. Friendship ought to be found along the pathway of walking with God. I have found that if I first hunger to be friends with God and get to the point that He all by Himself satisfies me, God brings the right kind of people into my life.
I Samuel 18:1, “And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. 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.”
I choose my friends based on my targeted tomorrow, not my today!
Philippians 3:14, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
I choose my friends based upon their position on Bible truth!
II Corinthians 6:14-17, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”
Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”
I choose my friends based upon their disposition and attitude!
Personality probably does more to impact and influence people than principle or philosophy.
I choose my friends based upon their philosophy of ministry!
When it comes to actual friendships in ministry, I am not just concerned with what people do, but how they do it and why they do it that way.
I choose my friends based upon their relationship to others they consider to be their friends!
I choose my friends based upon their ability to allow me to be myself within the basic guidelines and expectations of friendship!
I choose my friends based upon their allowance of me to be a friend to them!
Proverbs 18:24a, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly:…”
My obligation to my friends:
- I owe it to my friends to be their friend.
- I owe it to my friends to not be needy in those friendships.
- I owe it to my friends to be truthful and to be a sharpener without being a discourager.