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- A True and Eternal Friend –

Job 6:14, “To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend.”

Galatians 6:10, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith".

A faithful Christian friend is indeed an eternal treasure. The book of Proverbs tell us “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). We can’t 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 weigh heavily upon us. Webster defines the word friend as … one attached to another by affection or esteem or a favored companion.

Ralph Waldo Emerson defined friendship, as the only way to have a friend is to be one. Eleanor Roosevelt penned these words … “We must first make friends with ourselves” and Walter Winchell put it this way, "A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out". Authors write about friendship. People talk about friendship. However, the Bible provides us with many examples of friendship. David and Jonathan are perhaps the best-known friends in the bible. The book of James refers to Abraham as the “Friend of God”.

Jesus referred to His disciples as friends suggesting that this is a two-way relationship. But, He added one important condition: We must walk obediently with Him. Only then can we testify, “Whatever happens, Jesus remains my friend. The apostle Paul had several close friends who stuck by him even during the most difficult times. In the book of Daniel … Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were faithful friends who supported one another during times of temptation.

Who is a true friend? Some has said, “It is someone who sticks with you through thick and thin, and doesn’t leave you when things get rough. God’s Word has much to say about the Lord Jesus Christ as a friend, not in the common sense of simply being ‘friendly,’ but in the true sense of love, attachment, and faithfulness. Socrates once asked a simple old man what he was most thankful for. The man replied, “That being such as I am, I have had the friends I have had.” Someone has said, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” That little saying probably came about as a result of considering those who are loyal and dependable in times of hardship and adversity. Solomon addressed the characteristics and value of a faithful and true friend in several of his proverbs as a:

(1) Stable Companion … a friend is someone we would like to spend time with. Companionship is a well-suited synonym for friendship. Solomon wrote about a friend who is always there. A genuine friend sets us free to be whom and what we are. We can pour out our doubts and talk freely about the wolves howling at the door of our life. A faithful friend will also affirm our worth. Solomon described a faithful friend who stays loyal even in times of tribulation or intense trouble. When afflictions are severe and hope dims, the faithful friend stands close. A true friend can be counted on to stand close even when the afflicted person's family members have bailed out (Proverbs 27:10).

(2) Sensitive Counsel … Proverbs 27:9 affirms the welcome counsel of a friend. Solomon wrote, "Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel." Seeking advice is a strategic function of wisdom. Solomon often referred to the wisdom of "many" counselors. But the counsel of a friend is especially encouraging. It's acceptable for friends to disagree occasionally. They can be honest and forthright without disrupting their friendship. Their security is in their love for and commitment to each other. The healthy exchange of ideas and opinions can serve to sharpen both. They experience growth and development of personality and maturity. Proverbs 27:17 states, "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."

(3) Loving Confronter … Confrontation is always a risky process, but it has the potential to restore a wayward brother or sister. Proverbs 27:17 may suggest confrontation as an additional aspect of sharpening. The apostle Paul challenged his Galatian readers, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:1, 2). A true friend cares enough to confront. The pledge of silence that characterizes an "I'm okay, you're okay" society is deadly. The Bible confirms the idea that a faithful friend confronts another out of love and concern. The true friend will not let a friend persist in inappropriate or sinful behavior. He will confront in love to recover and restore.

The wisdom of being a faithful friend is clearly presented in the book of Proverbs". Moreover, faithful friends are just that … faithful, and are evident in both good and bad times. Now let’s look at some ways Jesus Christ is compared to a true friend.

A TRUE FRIEND loves at all times, Proverbs 17:17. Even as God is eternal, so His love is everlasting, therefore, those who are loved of God in Christ are loved from eternity, and forever. This is a great source of comfort and security to those He loves. He loves them to the end, John 13:1.

A TRUE FRIEND is ever present, no matter what the time or need. Christ encouraged his disciples with this truth saying, “I will not leave you comfortless (orphans): I will come to you,” John 14:18. He also told them (and his church), “…lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world,” Matthew 28:20.

A TRUE FRIEND defends the cause of those that He loves and takes their cares and infirmities on Himself, Hebrews 4:15. Before a Holy God, He is their Substitute and Sin-Bearer who intercedes on their behalf. Before Satan, sin, and the world, he is their advocate, taking on himself ALL of their faults and accusations. Whatever wrong is done to his people, he takes it as done to himself, Acts 9:4, 5.

A TRUE FRIEND does not seek his own honor but the good of the other. While the Lord Christ is worthy of all honor, He does not keep it for himself, but shares it with his saints to such a degree that what may be said of him, is attributed to them, Romans 8:17; I John 4:17. He being the Son of God, holy and exalted on high, makes his people to be sons of God, holy and exalted with him on high, Ephesians 2:6.

A TRUE FRIEND will do what he has promised; swearing to his own hurt, rather than go back on his word, Psalm 15:4. Christ, the Word of God, cannot lie nor fail to accomplish what He has promised. He is faithful and therefore He is trustworthy. Has he said it? He will do it!

A TRUE FRIEND spares no cost, effort, or sacrifice for those that he loves, 2 Corinthians 8:9. Christ spared no pains nor cost in saving those that the Father gave him, and He is ever faithful in keeping them at all costs, John 10:28, 29. He so loves them that he will never cast them off, nor put them away. His word is his bond!

Closing thoughts:

The story has been told of a young man who wished to marry the farmer's beautiful daughter. He went to the farmer to ask his permission. The farmer looked him over and responded, "Son, go stand out in that field and I'm going to release three bulls, one at a time. If you can catch the tail of any one of the three bulls, you can marry my daughter." The barn door opened and out ran the biggest, meanest-looking bull he had ever seen. He decided that one of the next bulls had to be a better choice than this one, so he ran over to the side and let the bull pass through the pasture. The barn door opened again. Unbelievable. He had never seen anything so big and fierce in his life. It stood — pawing the ground, grunting, slinging slobber — as it eyed him.

Whatever the next bull was like, it had to be a better choice than this one. He ran to the fence and let the bull pass through the pasture out the back gate. The door opened a third time. A smile came across his face. This was the weakest, scrawniest little bull he had ever seen. This one was his bull. As the bull came running by, he positioned himself just right and jumped at just the exact moment. He grabbed ... but the bull had no tail!

My beloved, life is full of opportunities for us every day. Some will be easy to take advantage of, some will be difficult. However, once we let them pass, often in hopes of something better, those opportunities may never again be available. The same thing is also true of opportunities to serve and witness for Christ. God often opens doors of opportunities for us to:

(1) Speak up for Him,
(2) Minister in His name,
(3) Minister to someone in need,
(4) Be an influence on individuals.

However, if we allow them to pass by (perhaps because we are waiting for something easier to come along), we may miss out on them altogether. The Bible has a message of the good news about the Friend (Jesus Christ) who cared enough for you to die as your substitute on the cross of calvary. Jesus Christ is the friend of the lonely, the friend of the unhappy, and the friend of the unloved. It’s about the Friend who loves each of us with a love that can never be alienated, who sticks closer than a brother, and who understands us completely. My friend, if you don’t know Him as Savior, He extends His nail-scarred hand and invites you to be His friend and Savior. Essentially we have two choices … keep to ourselves or open the door of our heart to a friendship of unlimited love, guidance and eternal life.

Though human friendships may sometimes fail, Christ’s friendship will always prevail.