Friendship

David Thomas Jr.


This morning I would like to say a few words about friendship. There are three tests that must always be present in a friendship whether it is between brethren and sisters or between believers and nonbelievers.

The first test is like-mindedness.

People need to have the same values, attitudes, and feelings or there is no common ground on which the friendship can develop. This is not to say that people must be exactly the same. But people will have a hard time being friends if they are opposites in attitudes and life styles.

The second test is unselfishness.

A relationship cannot be one-sided with one side taking advantage of the other. We will read later how Soloman felt that his friendships were one-sided with his friends seeking his wealth first. Jesus was the greatest example of an unselfish friend because he gave his life for us. John 15: 13 says "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

John 10:14-15 says, "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep."

Romans 5:6-8 says, "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some will even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

A third test of friendship is constancy.

As Proverbs says, "A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born in adversity." A friend doesn't let us down when times are bad.

We may not think of Jesus' disciples as being his friends. But they lived, ate, and preached with him. To them he was another human being like themselves. Jesus didn't look down on his disciples as being inferior. He says 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 heard of my Father I have made known unto you."

A master keeps his distance from his servants. He doesn't get too close to his servants because he wants to keep that superiority. Jesus didn't feel that way with his disciples. He felt that they were equal. He shared everything he knew with them. In Luke 22:28 Jesus said to his disciples "ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations".

However, Jesus said his followers were only his friends as long as they kept his Father's commandments. "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." This reminds us of the test of like-mindedness. We may be friends with those who may not be Christadelphians but who respect our beliefs. But we do no seek friendships with those who openly disregard God's commandments. Jesus felt that those who disobey his and his Fathers commandments had no common ground with him.

Perhaps Jesus had a difficult time finding friends his age when he was younger. We have no direct proof of this, but we know he was advanced for his age. We read that when he was 12 years old he was being questioned by doctors and answering their questions. He might have had a difficult time communicating with his peers since he was much more advanced.

We know that Jesus was forsaken by his friends at his crucifixion. All of his disciples forsook him except Peter and John, and even Peter denied him. Yet Jesus died for his friends.

Friend of God

It is interesting to note that God can also be a friend to those who follow him. Abraham was emphasized in the Bible as being the friend of God. James 2:23 says, "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."

Isaiah 41:8 says, "But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend."

2 Chron. 20:7 says, "Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever."
These verses show that Abraham had a special relationship with God. We all feel God is our friend, but Abraham seems to have been singled out as the friend of God.

If we have a friend, we will go out of our way to help him or her. In the same way, God will help us if we ask him. Luke 11:5-9 says, "And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his ,journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?

And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

And I say unto you, ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."

Friendship can take many forms.

In the book of Ruth we see a strong friendship between Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi. It is interesting to note that the name Ruth signifies "friendship" in Hebrew.

Naomi was returning to Judah with Ruth and Orphah her two daughters-in-law. Naomi told them to return to Moab. All of their husbands had died in Moab. Naomi wanted Ruth and Orphah to go and start new lives for themselves. She felt they would be better off to return to Moab than following her to Judah. Naomi was at a low point in her life and she would have been alone if both Ruth and Orphah returned to Moab. Orphah returned to Moab, but Ruth wanted to stay with her mother-in-law. Ruth said in chapter 1:16,

"In treat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God."

The story, of course had a happy ending. Ruth married Boaz who was a mighty man of wealth. We mentioned earlier that constancy was a test of friendship. Friends stand with us in our bad times as well as our good. Ruth wasn't a friend to Naomi only when it was in her best interest. She was just as much a friend in the bad times.

Solomon

In contrast to Ruth and Naomi, Solomon felt those who said they were his friends stood by him only because of his wealth and power. Proverbs 14:20 says, "The poor is hated even of his own neighbor: but the rich hath many friends".
Proverbs 19:4 says, "Wealth maketh many friends".
Proverbs 19:6 says, "Many will In treat the favor of the prince: and every man is a friend of him that giveth gifts. All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him."

Solomon describes true friendship

Proverbs 17:17, "A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born in adversity." When we see the comments Solomon makes about friendship in Proverbs and also consider Ecclesiastes were he says that all his labor and wealth were vanity, we can conclude that Solomon must have felt some frustrations with his friends. Poor people have friends too, of course, but Solomon knew that his wealth brought many people to him who didn't really care for him as a person. They wanted to share some of his wealth and power.

The definition of friendship Solomon gives in Proverbs 17:17 matches the definition of constancy as we indicated earlier.

David and Jonathan

Possibly the strongest example of friendship in the Bible is the friendship between David and Jonathan.

In 1 Sam. 20:16, 17 we read the following. "So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the Lord even require it at the hand of David's enemies. And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul."

David's life meant as much to Jonathan as his own life did. This may remind us of John 15: 13 which said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Jonathan protected David from his own father, Saul, who wanted to kill David. David told Jonathan that the following day he would miss a meal with Saul. If Saul asked Jonathan where David was, Jonathan was to tell Saul that David went to Bethlehem for a yearly sacrifice with his family. If Saul was angry that David was not present then Jonathan would know that Saul had evil intentions. After three days, Jonathan would go out into the field and shoot 3 arrows as though he was shooting at a mark. He would tell a young lad to go and find the arrows. If he said, "The arrows are on this side" then there would be peace between David and Saul. But if Jonathan says to the lad that the "arrows are beyond thee", then David would know that Saul sought to kill David. It turned out that Saul did want to kill David. Saul was so angry that David was not at the meal with him, he threw a javelin at his own son Jonathan.

It would have been in Jonathan's best interest not to be David's friend. Jonathan could have claimed that he had more of a right to be the king of Israel after his father, but David's friendship meant more to him than this.

The friendship between David and Jonathan met the three tests of friendship. They were like-minded, Jonathan showed complete unselfishness in putting David first before his father, and Jonathan showed constancy in standing by David during the bad times as well as the good.

Proverbs 27:17 describes how a friend can influence us. "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." That is why it is so important to be careful when choosing our friends. They can influence our spiritual well being. 1 Cor. 15:33 says, "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners."

Proverbs 22:24,25 says, "Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go. Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul."

James 4:4 says, "whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."

Proverbs 13:20 says, "He who walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed."

As we partake of the emblems this morning let us remember Christ sacrifice for us. He died for us because we are his friends. We should remember the three tests of friendship: like-mindedness, unselfishness, and constancy. We should pick friends who are like-minded. We shouldn't be selfish and try to make friends just for our own selfish purposes. We should always stay by our friends during the bad times as well as the good. Let us remember some of the best examples of friendship such as Ruth and Naomi, and David and Jonathan. Both Ruth and Jonathan put their friends first before their own benefit.

David Thomas Jr.


HOME | ADDRESS AND DIRECTIONS | DIRECTORY | EXHORTATIONS | BIBLE STUDIES | SCHEDULE | LINKS | EMAIL