For the Sake of a Friend

Someone once gave this little nugget of wisdom about friendships:

“Choose your friends wisely… you are who they are.”

Throughout my ministry and more times than I care to remember, I have spoken and counseled people who don’t believe the truth of that simple sentence. “It’s ok pastor. I know they are somewhat of a bad influence, but I don’t let that affect me”. That mantra can be seen written on prison walls and tombstones throughout history. If you don’t think who your friends are matters…

Tell it to the distraught mother whose son is now serving 5 to 10 years because he just happened to be with some “gangbangers” when one of them decided to break the law…

Tell it to the grieving parents who are picking out their daughter’s casket because she got into a car with a friend who had been drinking…

Tell it to the third of the angels who now sit condemned for following Lucifer (Satan) when he rebelled against the Most High God.

However, when we choose our friends based on solid, Godly principles, creative power can flow from that unity. We can find God’s image in the marriage bond between a man and a woman. We can experience His multiplied blessings when, instead of blessing “me” as an individual, He blesses “us”, as friends working together for His kingdom.

Still don’t believe me? Take Abraham for example…

In spite of moments of doubt and disobedience, at the end of the day (and in multiple places in Scripture), Abraham was referred to as “the friend of God”. Because of the friendships that Abraham made, favor and prosperity were released in his life. Abraham discovered the lasting qualities of friendship, and he applied them to his relationship with God.

Abraham discovered that there are friendships that are stronger than family ties. While God always intended for the family to be the ideal, the family is also where sin first entered the world. God called Abraham out from his father’s house (Genesis 12:1), and even at that, many of the problems that Abraham experienced were due to his selfish young nephew, Lot. But still, there are other examples…

We know nothing about Paul’s family, but we know who Barnabas, Silas, Aquila, Priscilla, and Phoebe were…

We know very little about David’s relationship with his brothers, but know a lot about his relationship with Jonathan…

You can probably name many of Jesus’ disciples. Can you name any of his brothers or sisters?

While I don’t mean to disparage the family unit at all, as Christians, we have another family: a spiritual one. Sometimes that family can provide us with the support a physical one cannot.

Abraham gave up a lot to follow Jehovah. Abraham knew that true friendships are worth sacrificing our own personal security. Archaeological excavations have shown that the land of Ur, where Abraham was from, was very beautiful and technologically advanced for its day (indoor gardens, stone houses, indoor plumbing, etc.). However, Abraham was willing to give it all up for the sake of his Divine Friend. Who is the Godly friend that you have that, if they called you up and said, “Let’s go fight Hell with water pistols”, you would say “I’m in!” – no questions asked? I have some friends like that… do you?

Abraham understood that trust is essential in deep, intimate friendship. He believed what God told him, and acted on it. If we are to enjoy real friendship with others, we must have friends we can trust. Words must be followed by integrity. Flaws must be covered by trustworthiness. Secrets must be safe so hearts can be an open book. Friendship is only as deep as the level of trust in a relationship. Abraham’s trust was more important to God than Abraham’s perfection. The Bible says that his trust in God was “credited to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).

I recently heard a story about two young co-workers. As Sandy was leaving work, David was arriving. Sandy said, “You are not going to BELIEVE what happened today… I’ve got to go home and put this on Facebook!” David said, “What happened?”, to which Sandy just said, “Oh… you’ll have to read about it.” David said, “After that, I deleted my Facebook account.” David understood that, when things reach a point where we cannot communicate face-to-face, but instead hide behind text messages, emails, and social media pages, someone has to step up and say, “ENOUGH!” The greatest gift you can give someone else is yourself — live and in-person. Relationships cannot exist in memos and emails. Real friendship is what it takes to build a team… face-to-face and heart-to-heart. This is life’s greatest reward: building and maintaining friendships. Abraham Lincoln once said that, “The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships.”

In Genesis 15:1, God wanted Abraham to understand this when He said, “I am… thy exceeding great reward.” God shows us, through His relationship with Abraham, that friendship maintains open communication, that true friendship carries the highest value, and that the ultimate reward is to have an intimate relationship with Him.

So, with all of that said, what is the real test of friendship?

The real test comes when the relationship costs you something dear. In Abraham’s case, the ultimate test came when God told him to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac (Genesis 22). Through Abraham’s willingness to trust that God knew what He was doing, and by surrendering to His command, Isaac was spared, and Abraham received the astounding message of the resurrection… a resurrection that happened when Jesus gave up His life for the sake of friendship with us. Jesus was the example of the friend who holds nothing back.

So… do you bring these qualities to your friendships? Will you seek to enrich the soil in your circle of friendship by fertilizing these positive character traits? A treasure chest of nourishment and reward is waiting to satisfy your desire for love and fellowship. Will you use these keys to unlock it?

There’s no time like the present to get started! What are you waiting for?

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