Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no-one to help him up! (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
The Bible contains such lofty themes. But then it surprises us by coming down to earth so hard that we can hardly believe it. Paul, for example, explored divine mysteries; yet he it was who wrote in 2 Corinthians, ‘I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there’ (2:13) and ‘God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus’ (7:6). How ‘ordinary’! To worry about a friend and need him to come and cheer you up! Paul clearly understood the blessing of friends!
Friends stand by us, especially in hard times. As Solomon put it, ‘A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity’ (Proverbs 17:17). But real friends are also not afraid to challenge us and tell us the truth; and if we are wise, we will listen. As Solomon put it again, ‘Wounds from a friend can be trusted’ (Proverbs 27:6).
The Bible contains many examples of good friendships that we could study to good profit: people like Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1:15-18), David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-4), Elijah and Elisha (2 Kings 2:1-14), Jesus and the Twelve (John 15:9-17), Paul and Luke (Colossians 4:14), Paul and Timothy (2 Timothy 1:2-5).
Sadly, the church is often seen by many as an institution or organization, rather than what God intends it to be: a family (e.g., Matthew 12:46-50; Galatians 6:10; Ephesians 2:19) and a friendship group (e.g., John 15:13-15; 1 John 3:1-3; Jude vv. 1-3). This is why the New Testament letters were written, not to a ‘flock’ or a ‘group’, but to ‘friends’. (Do a word search around ‘friends’ and you will quickly see!)
Today, be grateful for your friends and pray for them. Don’t take them for granted, but tell them you appreciate them. Thank those who have loved you enough to tell you the truth about yourself. And don’t sit waiting for people to come and be a friend to you; go out and be a friend to them!
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:11)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont
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