Scripture References: Exo.33:11; Deut.13:6; 1 Sam. 18:1-3; 2 Chron. 20:7; Job 6:14; Pr. 17:17; Pr. 18:24; Pr. 19:4, 6; Pr. 27:6, 9, 17; Mic. 7:5; John 15:14; 2 Tim. 3:1-5
Text: Ecc. 4:9-12 TCEV
Several years ago Pepper Rodgers was in the middle of a terrible season as football coach at UCLA. It even got so bad that it upset his home life. He recalls, "My dog was my only friend. I told my wife that a man needs at least two friends - so she bought me another dog."
Well, I don't know if we need two friends, but I do know that we need at least one. Theocritus, a philosopher who lived in the third century BC, once wrote,
"Heaven's eternal wisdom has decreed that man should
ever stand in need of man."
We have a more sure word given to us in the Bible. In Genesis 2:18 we find these words from God Himself:
"It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him."
W.A. Crisswell writes:
The woman was to be a help to the man: (1) as a spiritual partner to assist the man in obeying the word of God and being active in spiritual ministry; (2) as man's partner in the divinely assigned process of procreation, in order to assure the continuation of the race (1:28); (3) as man's friend to offer comfort and fellowship (vv. 23, 24); and (4) as man's encouragement and inspiration. The woman is the perfect counterpart of man, possessing neither inferiority nor superiority, but being like and equal in personhood, and unique and different in function.
And then in Ecclesiastes we read:
"You are better off to have a friend than to be all alone, because then you will get more enjoyment out of what you earn. If you fall, your friend can help you up. But if you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble. If you sleep alone, you won't have anyone to keep you warm on a cold night. Someone might be able to beat up one of you, but not both of you. As the saying goes, "A rope made from three strands of cord is hard to break." Ecc. 4:9-12 (TCEV)
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
But a faithful friend is hard to find these days. We live in a world where friendship and commitment no longer mean anything. The Bible says this would be characteristic of the last days:
2 Timothy 3:1-5
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
There are many who say they are your friend, but who would betray you at a moment's notice. And then there are many who befriend you, but only for the sake of gain.
Consider the following verses:
Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour.
Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts.
I would like to take a few moments to describe the characteristics of a true or faithful friend. But before I do, let me first define what it means to be a friend.
Here is the essence of true friendship:
1 Samuel 18:1-3
And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2 And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house. 3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.
Aristotle echoed the same truth in his definition of a friend:
"What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies."
The Characteristics of A Faithful Friend:
A true or faithful friend is one who...
1. Listens Intently
A friend is a person with whom I may think aloud. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
By Listening intently I mean three things:
One who listens...
2. Loves Unconditionally
A friend loveth at all times...
A friend you have to buy won't be worth what you pay for him.
George D. Prentice (1802-1870)
3. Leads Faithfully
Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend
by hearty counsel.
Remember as you lead: "It is better to keep a friend from falling than to help him up."
Be careful when choosing your friends.
"Don't fool yourselves. Bad friends will destroy you" (1 Cor. 15:33 TCEV)
These words from Charles Spurgeon are most appropriate:
When cast by providence among sinful people who respect us, we ought to be particularly watchful. The hatred of the ungodly when poured on Christians in the form of persecution is seldom harmful to their spiritual nature, but the friendship of the world is always to be suspected. When the servants of the high priest allowed Peter to warm his hands at the fire, had Peter been a wise man, he would have been afraid that evil would come of it. We are disarmed by kindness, but it is never safe to be disarmed in an enemy's country. "Who," says the old proverb, "could live in Rome and yet be at war with the pope?" Who can have much to do with sinners and not have something to do with their sins? The smiling daughters of Moab did more mischief to Israel than all Balak's frowning warriors. All Philistia could not have blinded Samson if Delilah's charms had not deluded him. Our worst foes will be found among our ungodly friends. Those who are false to God are not likely to be true to us. Walk carefully, believer, if your way lies by the sinner's door, and especially if that sinner has acted a friendly part to you.
A Faithful Friend is one who leads in paths of rightness. In doing so he/she...
A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly:
It has often been said that a leader is "someone who knows the way, who shows the way, and who goes the way."
Rather than tearing you down, a friend seeks to build you up. They focus not on the negative aspects of your life, but on the positive.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Right quickly, let me show you how all of these characteristics apply to Christ.
Christ listens intently:
As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
Christ loves unconditionally:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Christ leads faithfully:
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
There are those who pass like ships in the night.
Who meet for a moment, then sail out of sight
With never a backward glance of regret;
Folks we know briefly then quickly forget.
Then there are friends who sail together
Through quiet waters and stormy weather
Helping each other through joy and through strife.
And they are the kind who give meaning to life