One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
- The need for friendship
A friend is described as a companion or individual with whom one has mutual affection. There is a between a friend and an acquaintance. An acquaintance is someone you know a little about but they are not an intimate friend. Our focus here is on a true friend not an acquaintance. From the beginning of time when God created man, He saw the need for companionship and friendship.
And the Lord God said, “it is not good that man should be alone, I will make him a help comparable to him.”
We see that as human beings we are designed for friendship and companionship with other people. As a young believer you don’t have a choice when it comes to the family you a born in, your brothers and sisters but you have a choice on who your friends are. The foundation of any friendship is important because it has an impact on your life and destiny.
There is are sayings which go “show me your friends and I will show you your future” or “show me your friends and I will tell you what your are”. This highlights how important friendships are because they give an indication of your destiny and your character as a person.
- We all need a friend
As a young believer, throughout your life you may build various friendships in different environments. For example, you may have friends at school, home, church, sports team etc. In whatever environment your friendships maybe formed, it is important that they are founded on God being at the centre. Indeed all other common things you like may supplement the bond but the core must be in God.
There must be a mutual desire to please God by both you and you friend. Some friendships may exist for a season in your life, some friendships may last for a couple of years, and others for a life time. What keeps friendships alive is the mutual affection between the two people who have chosen to be friends. When the mutual affection dies the friendship also dies. With many friendships, when the one thing which brings you together is non-existent then the friendship dies e.g. you stop going to the same school or working for the same company. True and solid friendships continue despite distance, time apart and difficult times.
We a living at a time when people have many superficial “friends” or “followers” on social media. The question is, are those genuine friends ? or are they just individuals you know or don’t know that have taken interested in being connected on cyberspace for whatsoever reasons. The scripture says one who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin – meaning if you have many friends who not dependable or cannot be trusted to be with you through thick and thin then you may end up in trouble…
A true friend is one who sticks with you through the good and bad times. That is why marriage is an excellent example of what true friendship is all about. Its about freely choosing someone and that person choosing you. Understanding that this other person has weaknesses and strengths, but still deciding to stick together for life regardless of the circumstances that may come.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
- The impact of a friend
A true friend will give you Godly advise that will lead you to life and not death. In II Samuel 13:1-6 we see the impact of a friend’s advice on the destiny of other people. In this scripture Amnon (David’s son) gets bad advice from Jonadab his friend. He advises him to commit sin and Amnon takes Jonodab’s advise which ultimately leads to the destruction of Tamar, himself and David’s family. A friend who advises you to commit sin is not a true friend, run from such a person, they will lead you to destruction.
- Sharpening and exampleship
A true friend to help and sharpen you to become a better person. If you have a friendship with someone and you realise that your relationship with that person is making you worse off, that person is not a true friend. A true friend corrects you and encourages you to make wise choices and live according to God’s will. When a true friend corrects or helps you, if for your own good and to protect you from harm.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend…
In the New Testament Jesus had a profound impact on His disciples, such that from being ordinary fishermen they had been transformed to such an extent that other people could see the impact of the teachings and life of Jesus on their life.
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
As young believers we are called to reach out and have an impact on the lost but to build friendships with believers. When you are bound with unbelievers there is a tendency to get drawn into their sinful practices which will draw you away from God. In the old testament God expected His children to live separated lives – not to get involved or intermarry with the nations in the promised land because they would influence them to worship idols (e.g. Exodus 34:16).
1 Corinthians 15:33
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
II Corinthians 6:14
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man,
- Characteristics of true friendship
- A true friend loves and protects
A true friend shows love and cares for the other person. In I Samuel 18:1 we see an example of a true friendship between Jonathan and David. Their friendship extended from just physical care for one another but to a spiritual connection.
I Samuel 18:1
After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.
Jonathan loved David so much that when he had to choose who He would be loyal to between his family and David. He was loyal to his friend David. David loved Jonathan so much as well that He mourned for him and even after His death showed kindness to Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth (II Samuel 9:7). A true friend with sticks with you even when they have to make difficult sacrifices that may affect their own destiny.
- True friends stick together
As a young person, you will go through many situations in life. Some will be great and some will be difficult. A true friend stays by your side through it all. A true acquaintance is one that sticks with you through the good and bad times. They don’t abandon you when you need them the most. When Job lost everything, he was visited by His three friends who instead of encouraging him through the difficulties he was going through condemned him but God vindicated him. Naomi and Ruth are an example of a relationship which went through the good and the bad but yet their friendship remained intact because of love.
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God
- A true friend does not betray
In our scripture in Proverbs it refers to one who sticks closer than a brother. This is someone who will not betray by turning against you for self-gain. As a child of God you may encounter such friends within you circles as you progress in life. Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot and in Psalms 55 David describes betrayal by a close friend:
Psalms 55:12 – 14
If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide but it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God as we walked about among the worshipers.
When you encounter such people, forgive them and move on with life. Pray for them and avoid keeping bitterness within your heart.
- The greatest friend of all
The greatest friend of all is one who is willing to lay down his life for a friend. That is what Jesus Christ our Lord and saviour was willing to do for every person. Whilst you and me did not deserve, He was willing to die for our sins. When we accept Jesus into our hearts through faith we are able to have a genuine friendship with Him. To be friends with God requires that we become enemies with the world (James 4:4). As a Young person, you cannot be a friend of God and a friend of the world.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Like Abraham (James 2:23), when you have faith and you are obedient to God, you can establish a friendship with the Heavenly Father. God is an ever reliable friend that you can trust. He will be with you through thick and thin; highs and lows; happiness and sadness.
In this lesson, as young people we are encouraged to choose are friends carefully because they have an impact on our destiny. As you build friendship, possess the characteristics of a ture friend and look for the signs of a true friend. In closing, consider the friends you have within your surroundings, are they drawing you closer to God or away from God? Are you having a positive impact on your friends?