Proverbs 18:24, “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother”
The word friend is defined as “one attached to another by affection, regard, or esteem; an intimate acquaintance.” All of us need at least one or two close friends. A small boy defined a friend as “someone who knows all about you and likes you just the same.” A friend is one to whom we can tell everything and who will never betray a confidence. A friend will not say anything that will injure you. A friend is one in whose presence we can be ourselves without the fear of being misunderstood. Ralph Waldo Emerson said this of a friend, “The only reward of virtue is virtue; the only way to have a friend is to be one.” Samuel Johnston said, “True happiness consists not in the multitude of friends, but in their worth and choice.”
I don’t know about you, but, whenever I read the story of the paralyzed man who was healed by Jesus, I think about his friends, who cared enough about this man to bring him to Jesus so he could be healed (Luke 5:17-26). Have you ever been in a situation where you needed friends to help you? Maybe your car needed some minor repairs. Maybe there was a time when you needed some help in moving to your new apartment. Looking back on my own life, I can remember numerous times when I needed a helping hand, and my friends, those who knew Jesus as their Savior and those who didn’t came to my rescue. During those times, it gave me an opportunity to share my faith about Jesus Christ with those who didn’t know Him.
I’m mindful of the apostle Paul who was locked in a damp Roman dungeon, awaiting execution. He couldn’t help but feel hurt that many former friends had deserted him. Oh, how grateful he was for the friendship of Onesiphorus! This man left his family and an active ministry in Ephesus to befriend Paul. When he arrived in Rome, he searched diligently to find where Paul was imprisoned (2 Timothy 1:17). And he courageously visited the apostle again and again. Paul said of Onesiphorus, “He often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain” (2 timothy 1:16). Our world has so many people who need just one friend to change their life. Solomon wrote, “A friend loves at all times especially in adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).
My brethren, we cannot improve on that definition. To have someone who remains true to us under all circumstances is one of life’s choicest blessings. The support and encouragement that only an intimate friend can offer is sorely needed when the burdens of life weight heavily upon us. As believers in Christ, we know and experience the love of God (1 John 3:16), so we are especially able to reach out to people and share that love and become a friend. What a wonderful gift we can give by standing faithfully with a friend in need! There are enough people to go around so that everyone can have friends. Simply put, a true friend helps you keep going when you feel like giving up. Like Onesiphorus, let’s commit ourselves to being faithful to our friends.
Thinking it over:
Read Proverbs 27:17. What does it mean for friends to “sharpen” each other as iron sharpens iron? Lastly, do any of your friendships sharpen you?
Adversity is the test of true friendship.