I put a very high value on those I call friend, and feel that my friends have played a significant role in my growth as a Christian. The dictionary defines a friend as, “One who cherishes kind regard for another person; an intimate and trustworthy companion.” I’ve heard it said that:
- A friend is one who multiplies joys and divides grief.
- Real friends are those, who when you’ve made a fool of yourself, don’t feel that you’ve done a permanent job.
- A friend is one who comes in when the whole world has gone out.
- A friend is one who knows all about you, and still likes you anyway.
- A friend is a person with whom you dare to be yourself.
I’m not talking about a person you simply say “hello” to on Sunday morning. I’m talking about a person you can trust. Someone you can share your heart with.
When the Bible talks about friendship, it uses words like “companion, clansman, beloved, dear one, to be joined together, and one who is as your own soul”. The Old Testament refers to friends or friendship eighty-eight times, while the New Testament talks about the concept close to forty times. What was most interesting to me though was that the word most often translated “friend” in both the Old and New Testament comes from the same root word as we get our word LOVE from. In Greek the word is PHILOS. Sound familiar? Phileo-brotherly love, tender affection. “A cherishing of the object of love above all else, manifesting an affection characterized by constancy, from the motive of the highest veneration of the other.”
The biblical concept of a friend is not simply someone you like to have fun with, but someone you love, stick by, cherish, and even esteem as higher or more important than yourself. The basis of any close friendship is love. Both the “phileo” love, that enjoys the other person’s company, and the “agape” love that is willing to sacrifice for the good of the other.
Some of you have probably heard the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
There is another that goes like this:
“I went out to find some friends, but there was no one there; I went out to be a friend, and friends were everywhere.”
The key to having friendships is not to seek them out. It’s to treat people in a way that makes them feel loved and accepted. Not looking for what you can get from people, but what you can offer to them. As we concentrate on meeting the needs of others, and being a friend, God has a wonderful way of meeting our needs along the way.
I just want to mention one Proverb in closing, and that’s Proverbs 18:24. It says, “A man of many friends comes to ruin but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” I believe that the ultimate friend is Jesus Christ. And no matter how many friends you may have, in the end, that will not matter. If you can’t say you are a friend of Jesus, you will come to ruin. And in Biblical terms, that means you will end up in a place of eternal destruction. But, on the other hand, if you can call Jesus your friend, if you have put your trust in Him, and come to know Him as your personal Savior, no matter how difficult life gets, you have a friend that sticks closer than a brother. You have a relationship with the one who shows us how to love. One who gave the ultimate sacrifice when He died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins. He promises that if you ask Him to forgive you of your sins and commit your eternal destiny into His hands, that He will save you. He promises in Hebrews 13:5 that He will never desert you or forsake you. If you don’t know Jesus, you’re missing out on the most precious friendship you can ever experience. And I invite you to come to Him today to start that relationship. He’s willing to be your friend. If you’ll ask Him to come into your life.
Steve is an elder and full-time worker at Hillview Bible Chapel in Cupertino, CA. He serves in the college ministry, preaching, teaching, and counseling. He is also a director of the DITP in Lubbock, Texas.