And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God,

and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.

(James 2:23)

After the institutions of marriage and the family, friendship is the most honored human relationship in which we can participate. The book of Proverbs, in fact, provides us with a brief “doctrine of friendship,” we might say. Understanding is compared to “an intimate friend,” indicating the positive nature of human friendship. (Pro. 7:4) The love of a true friend is constant. (17:17; 18:24) There is such a thing as false friendship that is based on some perceived personal advantage. (19:4, 6) Graciousness attracts important friends. (22:11) Even the painful counsel of a true friend is a great benefit. (27:6, 9) The bonds of friendship are to be preserved. (27:10)

There is little doubt that most people could point to at least one or two people they consider close friends. In some cases, we have those we identify as lifelong friends. I have such a lifelong friend. We met in college in the late 70’s. We rarely see one another, but our relationship has remained strong over the years. As described in Proverbs, I have experienced many of the positive aspects of such a friendship. Therefore, I am truly thankful for the blessing of friendship.

For most of my adult life, I have not been one to cultivate friendships. Until the past few years, I tended to let the ministry stand in the way of personal relationships (the one wonderful exception is my wife). But, as just indicated, I now have a number of men who I consider good friends and most of these relationships have formed in the midst of my service in the Church. Some of these men have been fellow-officers and some have been brothers in Christ who stepped up to offer support in a time of crisis. One thing I can now say with full confidence is that I am far better off as a Christian man with these friends in my life. I enjoy their company and look forward to seeing them after a period of separation.

The significance of friendship is implied in the verse I selected for this devotional: “And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.” (James 2:23) Friendship was chosen to describe the nature of Abraham’s association with God. This fact adds dignity to friendship. It is not a relationship to be taken for granted, nor should it be easily wounded or dissolved. This might require the extension of patience and forgiveness beyond the ordinary, but when the benefits of friendship are understood, we realize that such relationships are worth the extra effort.

Lately, I’ve gone out of my way to let my friends know how much I appreciate them and how genuinely helpful they have been in my life. Take a moment and think of one of your close friends. Perhaps you will want to do the same.

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