A few months ago I invited my church to participate in a survey. I asked the participants to consider, prioritize and list, with 1 at the top, the 10 most important things in their lives. Then, based upon what they shared, I have been teaching a series entitled, “The Most Important Things in Our Lives.” With very little divergence, a relationship with God through Christ held the number one position. Family came second, with marriage relationships being highlighted as paramount. Friendship placed third…and that is my topic for this article.
Just for fun, I googled “friendship in the Bible”, with a resultant 23,200,000 possible hits. I narrowed the horizon by doing an electronic search of “friend” in the Bible, and discovered that the word is used 134 times. That is still a lot, so in the space that remains, I have limited my observation of friendship to the following three aspects.
First, the power of friendship. Acts 9:10–31 mentions Ananias and Barnabas, two friends to Saul of Tarsus, whom we know of as the apostle Paul. Without these friends there would have been no apostle Paul, but because they came alongside, supported and endorsed him, he was accepted, affirmed and subsequently engaged in a ministry that, apart from the work of the Lord Jesus Himself, has been unparalleled in its impact.
Second, a pattern for friendship was provided by Jesus in John 15. An oversight of what He taught in this passage indicates that the basis for friendship is love (vs. 12). The nature of friendship is exhibited by selfless, sacrificial giving (vs. 13). The ultimate proof, Jesus said, was laying down our lives for a friend; however, the giving of our time, talent, or treasure in smaller quantities also qualifies.
Jesus went on to say that information is also evidence of true friendship. He told them that they could know they were His friends because He had “told them everything” (vs. 15). If we are uninformed or kept in the dark, this is an indication that the friendship is weak (perhaps even nonexistent).
Friendships are enduring. I phoned a gentleman whom I refer to as “my old coffee buddy” a few days ago. We were able to pick up where we left off, though it has been more than a decade since we lived in the same town. Jesus’ friendship, is of course superlative in this area, for He promised “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
True friendship is rare and it is not indestructible. Because of this, friendship should be treasured and maintained carefully. Like health, we don’t realize what a gift friends are until we lose them.
Friends are fragile…handle with prayer!