The Importance of Right Friendships

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The Importance of Right Friendships

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Some people prefer to be alone. But most want to be around other people. Relationships and associations are important to them. They desire to have and maintain friendships.

Friendship is part of God’s way of life. His Word has much to say about friendship. In fact, God Himself strongly emphasizes His desire for relationships and friendships. Jesus Christ, who is one in mind and Spirit with the Father, will marry the Church. This implies an extremely close relationship as well as a friendship. A major underpinning in God’s plan is healthy, strong, close relationships.

The Scriptures refer to Abraham and Moses as friends of God (Exodus 33:11 Exodus 33:11And the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
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; James 2:23 James 2:23And the scripture was fulfilled which said, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
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). Jesus had close friends. Though the disciples were His closest friends, He had friendly relationships with others, including tax collectors. For this He was soundly condemned by others (Matthew 11:19 Matthew 11:19The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a drunkard, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
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). One of the tax collectors, Matthew, even became a disciple (Matthew 9:9-13 Matthew 9:9-13 9 And as Jesus passed forth from there, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said to him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. 10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to his disciples, Why eats your Master with publicans and sinners? 12 But when Jesus heard that, he said to them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 13 But go you and learn what that means, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
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).

These examples illustrate that it is not wrong to have friends who are not Christian. John, another disciple and a close friend of Jesus, described the danger we must keep in mind: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17 1 John 2:15-17 15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God stays for ever.
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).

We must maintain a proper balance. We are to help people in the world—in society—without becoming part of the way of life of the world.

Among the disciples, the Savior apparently felt especially close to John. He even commissioned this disciple to care for His mother, Mary, after His death. Although Jesus was a friend to many, He appears to have felt a special affinity for John.

John’s epistles dwell on love as a major theme. Since God is love and the Son of God is like His Father (Hebrews 1:3 Hebrews 1:3Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
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), this may be why Jesus felt a special affinity for John. Following Christ’s example, we can see that it’s not wrong for us to have close friends as long as they do not prevent us from helping others and having a positive relationship with them.

People can be so much more effective, so much more balanced and so much wiser as a result of developing and maintaining healthy friendships. The Word of God supports this approach. The book of Proverbs is rife with wise sayings on aspects of friendship. Proverbs focuses on the importance of developing friendships based on the right reasons.

For example, Proverbs 19:4-6 Proverbs 19:4-6 4 Wealth makes many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbor. 5 A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaks lies shall not escape. 6 Many will entreat the favor of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that gives gifts.
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tells us: “Wealth makes many friends, but the poor is separated from his friend…Many entreat the favor of the nobility, and every man is a friend to one who gives gifts.”

Solomon noted that many people make friends for ulterior motives, such as what a friend can do for us. But a true friend is one who will sacrifice for his brother, not one who will sacrifice his brother for gain. A true friend will not be friendly only when things are going well but will love at all times, including periods of adversity (Proverbs 17:17 Proverbs 17:17A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
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A true friend is deeply committed to a relationship. Notice Jesus Christ describing this commitment: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13 John 15:13Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
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). Jesus not only said this, He lived it. It’s quite a challenge for us to follow this wonderful example.

Some believe that to be a friend to someone, one should never stand up to or disagree with him. But there are times when a true friend needs to tell his brother where he is wrong. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend. But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Proverbs 27:6 Proverbs 27:6Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
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Friends should assist and strengthen each other by helping each other grow and improve (Proverbs 27:17 Proverbs 27:17Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
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). People simply do much better by working together. Two really are better than one (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he has not another to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
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God’s way is not one of total independence from others. It is a way of interdependence—of close relationships and of working together as a well-trained team to accomplish the goals He sets before us. All of us need to actively seek, develop and maintain friendships from a godly perspective and motive. We will be better people as a result.

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