The Value Of Friendship
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Joe had seen his comfortable, stable, happy life crumble over the last few months. Demands of his in-laws created tension with his wife, and the tension continued to escalate. He found himself figuratively kicking the dog and literally yelling at the children. The strain spilled over into his work because he was so preoccupied with the problems at home. He noticed his circle of friends gradually diminished. It seemed that few of them wanted to hang around somebody who wasn’t much fun anymore.
“I’ve never felt so lonely in my life,” he reported later. “I thought they’d all leave, but Phil stayed. When I was at my worst, he didn’t walk away. You have no idea what that meant- and still means-to me.”
All significant relationships are tested by disputes and difficulties. It’s easy to walk away when friends no longer give as much as they take, but a true friend moves toward someone who is hurting. He or she provides stability when life is out of control and a listening ear when no one else wants to understand. A true friend doesn’t jump in to fix problems. He or she offers advice sparingly.
We all want friends like this. To have a friend who cares about us during difficult times, we need to be this kind of friend.
The best way to have more friends is to be a friend.
Be slow in choosing a friend….even slower leaving a friend.
Jimmy Stewart, in the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” finds himself at the end of his rope. As we watch his life, we discover a person who deeply cares for others. He gives up his plans so that his brother can go to college, he gives them up again to run the Bailey Savings and Loans when his father dies, and he even gives up his honeymoon to save the day when the economic collapse.happens. He watches his friends prosper while he struggles along and he feels that his accomplishments are few and little in comparison. When uncle Billy misplaces the $8000, he takes the responsibility and when he can find no means to make it up, he decides his life isn’t worth living. And he is given a gift. He gets to view life without him and he discovers that the most important gift that one can give or have is friendship. He learns that because he was a friend and cared, his brother was rescued, the druggist was kept from accidentally poisoning a client, and because he gave to others sacrificially, there were families living in their own homes. Jimmy Stewart learns that no life lived is useless and the greatest among us is the one who is a friend. The powerful moment in the movie is when all those who he befriended over the years, come to his rescue and raise the money to keep him from being arrested. The power of friendship can never be overstated and those of us who have at least one trusted friend are numbered among the truly wealthy. Friends are good to have and I know we are all thankful for each of them.
But those who know Christ, are truly blessed with having Him as a friend. While we may have friends who listen and to some degree understand us or at least are patient with us, there is no human friend who understands us, loves us, and cares for us anywhere close to how Jesus does.
The songwriters penned powerful words to describe such a relationship.
Johnson Oatman penned these words:
There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus,
No not one, no not one.
None else could heal our soul’s diseases.
No not one, no not one.
Jesus knows all about our struggles.
He will guide till the day is done
There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus
No not one, no not one.
And Joseph Scriven wrote these words:
What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.
Oh what peace we often forfeit
Oh what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.
Both of these songs remind us that we indeed have a true friend. He doesn’t have to “discover” us or “learn” us. He already knows everything about us. We never have to fear that some hidden secret will come to light and damage or destroy our friendship since nothing is ever hidden from Him.
As a matter of fact Scripture tells us that Jesus is a friend like no other.
“ No one has greater love [nor stronger commitment] than to lay down his own life for his friends. You are my friends if you keep on doing what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you [My] friends, because I have revealed to you everything that I have heard from My Father. You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed placed purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain be lasting, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name [as My representative] He may give to you.”
As we begin a new year let us pause for a moment and give thanks for our friendships. Let us take time to seek out those who have been our friends, especially those we haven’t connected with in a while and tell them what their friendship means to us. We don’t have to wait for a crisis or some life-threatening event. We can choose to make our appreciation known today. More importantly, let us pause in our prayers for help and thank Christ for being our friend and ever present help in the time of trouble. Just as friends are those who celebrate with us, who support us, who love us, and who comfort us as life moves through its cycles, let us build such a relationship with Christ who wants to celebrate our victories, comfort us in our sorrows, strengthen us in our battles and encourage us in our struggles.
There truly is not a friend like Jesus and what a friend He is. If you you know Him as Savior, you also know Him as friend. If for some reason you’re reading this devotion and you don’t know Him either as friend or Savior, why don’t you invite Him to be so. He has already chosen you to be His friend, He’s waiting for you to respond and accept His offer.
Dr. John Thompson