In the concluding part of our series on “Friendship”; today we focus on the final two dimensions of Friendship…
For a moment, let’s remain in the realm of inter-personal relationships within the Church. Jesus, our greatest everlasting friend, “…comforts us in all our affliction…” (2 Cor 1:4a ESV), then should we not do the same in our earthly relationships with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? Of course: “…so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor. 1:4b ESV)
A true friend is one who will love us at all times (SeeProv. 17:17), and especially by comforting us during adverse times. Now, who do you think would go out and search for David the fugitive to comfort and encourage him whilst he was fleeing from the murderous and envious King Saul? You guessed it, it was Jonathan (See1 Sam 23:16-18)!
The same could also be said about a certain man named Onesiphorus. If you’re having a hard time recalling who he is, don’t worry about it. He may not be as well-known as, say, Paul, or Peter, but his actions deserve to be noted here! The Apostle Paul himself issues a “friendship certificate”, so to speak, to this resident of Ephesus. According to scripture:
“As you know, all the Christians who came here from Asia have deserted me; even Phygellus and Hermogenes are gone. May the Lord bless Onesiphorus and all his family because he visited me and encouraged me often. His visits revived me like a breath of fresh air, and he was never ashamed of my being in jail. In fact, when he came to Rome, he searched everywhere trying to find me, and finally did. May the Lord give him a special blessing at the day of Christ’s return. And you know better than I can tell you how much he helped me at Ephesus.” (2 Tim 1:15-18 TLB)
On the subject of comfort, on the flipside are the so-called “friends” of Job. It has been said that with the kind of friends Job had, he did not need any more enemies (although they did eventually repent for their misdeeds, and thus, that is a different matter altogether. SeeJob 42:7-10). Rather than comforting Job in the midst of his severe troubles, there they were attributing Job’s woes to his “secret sins” (SeeJob 11:14-15), virtually rubbing salt into his wounds. No wonder Job called them “miserable comforters” (Job 16:2 TLB)!
Time for an introspective; do we belong in Jonathan’s calibre of friendship, or should we end up in Job’s “friends” category?
There should be no secrets hidden between friends. Do you have any pressing problems in which certain details must not be revealed to anyone of this World? Then look to what Joseph Scriven, the writer of “What a Friend we Have in Jesus”, did and bring it in prayer before your most trustworthy friend, Jesus.
Conversely, does God hide His plans from His friends? Of course, He doesn’t!
“Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence Him,” declares the Psalmist. He goes on to add, “With them alone he shares the secrets of his promises.” (Psalm 25:14-TLB ).
Our Heavenly Father would not hide His plans from His friend Abraham (Gen 18:17/2 Chro 20:7/James 2:23), nor would Christ, who elevated His disciples from the position of mere servants to that of His friends: “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15 ESV).
On the meaning of our friendship with the Lord, St. Augustine of Hippo wisely declared that “The Bible was composed in such a way that as beginners mature, its meaning grows with them.” As our Friendship with our Lord grows deeper and deeper more and more treasures within it become accessible to us, making us fall even more in love with the Almighty One (Dan 2:22)!
Oh, what a friend we have in Jesus! Besides just comforting us at all times, He also confides in us his Heavenly matters–even as we grow in Him! Hallelujah!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we are eternally grateful for treating us as Your friends and confiding many spiritual secrets with us. May we always be grateful to Thee who loved us first, even while we were Your enemies. We glorify Thee out of love borne out of gratitude. Amen
An unworthy servant
J and SM Ministries
(To access the entire “What a Friend” mini-series, please click here.)