Greetings to you on this lovely summer evening.  We’ve had a lovely Lord’s Day here In Virginia and heard a wonderful message on God’s love and the certainty of it.  We are so blessed to serve a God who loves and provides for us.  As Jesus tells us in John 15:15 “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.“, we see that we are called friends by our Lord.

 

I think of Abraham and his relationship with God as James 2:23 relates “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.“   John 15:17 “These things I command you, that ye love one another.”  When we believe God, and trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior, His Spirit takes up residence in our hearts.  Romans 5:1-5 reveals our new relationship with God, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”  Hence we see that the “love of God” is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who comes to lead us into all truth (John 16:13).  As the Spirit bestows God’s love within us, we are enabled to be a “friend” to others.  I’d like us to look at friendship this week.  After spending the last few weeks with some dear and long-term friends, I have been thinking about the blessing and joy of having and being “friends”.

Proverbs 18:24 “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”  How do we make friends?  There are many answers but I’d like to focus on this Biblical answer.  To have friends we must be willing to be a friend.  I once heard Charles Stanley relate a comment, which I paraphrase; “we can never earnestly pray for that, for which we are unwilling to be used as the answer”.  I found that to be most profound.  We often make requests of God when we are unwilling to be part of the answer.  I think this can have a direct correlation to friendship!!!  To have a friend we must be willing to “BE” a friend.  When we are willing to be a friend we will find that God brings people into our lives who not only need a friend, but also can become a true and dear friend to us.  How many blessings do we miss because we aren’t paying attention to those around us?

What does a friend look like?  Exodus 33:11 “And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend…”  A friend is one to whom we can speak “face to face”, with confidence and trust.  Job 6:14 “To him that is afflicted pity should be shewed from his friend…”,  one who can empathize, sympathize and relate to our grief, sorrow or our times of confusion.  How often do people languish away for lack of a “friend”?  How many people spend tens of thousands of dollars on psychiatrists and psychologists, when a good friend could have met the need, and been an ear to hear.  Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”—One of my favorite “friend” verses tells us here that a “real” friend loves at all times—ALL TIMES!!  That treasured friend who knows all our bumps and warts, and still loves and encourages us.  The one who helps us get up and start over again!!!   Proverbs 27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”   Oh, how blessed we are when we have a friend (and if you have more than one you are abundantly blessed) who will speak the truth when we’d rather not hear it!!   One who cares enough to help us see ourselves as we really are, and as we ought to be.  Also Proverbs 27:9 “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.”  A friend that leads and directs us to the word and heart of God rather than to the world=hearty counsel. As Mark 5:19 says, “Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.”  The greatest thing a friend can do is to share Christ.  Do our friends know that Jesus is the most important person in our lives?  Are we living in a way that reflects His love and Holiness to our friends—to all?  Am I calling those around me to a higher way or settling for what the world offers?

John 15:13 calls us to the highest,  “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  Mostly we think of this verse in light of “dying” for ones friends, but I think there is a deeper, harder meaning here.  I believe that many times it is easier to “die” for something/someone, but much more difficult to “LIVE” for that thing/person.  What limits do I put on those who need me?  Now I am not saying that we shouldn’t have healthy boundaries, but are we willing to be available for those who need us, when they need us?

Oft times friendship, true friendship is costly in time, emotions and energy.  Am I willing to be there when others need me, or am I more concerned with convenience than the sacrifices of friendship?  It is sometimes very “inconvenient” to be there when our friends need us.  Let’s determine to be a friend to Jesus, first of all and then, by His grace and power (which His Spirit supplies), to be Jesus to the world.  As a contemporary song illustrates with the little blind girl, who asks if the one helping her is Jesus, let us commit ourselves to be “Jesus” to others.  Not only to those whom we easily love but to all those that God places in our path—especially those who may be difficult to love.  Keep your heart door open—God may have a new friend right around the corner.  And don’t forget to treasure those old and dear ones who have walked through the fire with us!!

May God bless you to not only be a godly friend, but to be abundantly blessed with a friend like Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”   May we be iron sharpening iron each to the other—godly, Biblically faithful, loving friends.