Are we meant to be social, to have friends and family? Gen 2:18, “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” God knows we need friends and family. But, what does the Bible tell us about friendships?
God is calling each of us to lovingly encourage each other toward good works and away from evil ones, 1 Thes 5:14-15, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” Does God use our friendships to improve our character? Is this why He encourages us to come together regularly? Heb 10:24-25, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Is this part of the reason for church families? Prov 27:17, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Are we stronger and more able to withstand the stresses of this world when we have loving friends? Eccl 4:12, “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
Does this mean that the opposite is also true? Are we weaker and more vulnerable, when we feel lonely? Can we feel lonely when other people surround us? Even ones who call us their friend? It is not the number of people around us, it is the love those people show to us that removes the feeling of loneliness. What exactly is loneliness? Is it the feeling of separation from God the Father, which Jesus felt the moment before He gave up the ghost, Mk 15:34, “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” God gives us friendships, so that we might better understand our relationship with Him. When friends are following God’s path for them, we feel the love and strength of being their friend. We move closer to God and the plan He has for our lives. God’s plan has always included friends. God wanted us to know Abraham was following God, so, God called Abraham His friend, Is 41:8, “But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.” God defines friendship as ones unselfish love of another, Jn 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Who do we know who would be willing to lay down their life for us? We can count that person our friend!
Laying down our lives for our friends might mean dying to protect them. But, it can also mean something as simple as choosing to do what our friend wants to do, or something our friend needs us to do, rather than satisfying our own desires, Ruth 2:11, “And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore.” Ruth sacrificed part of her life for her mother-in-law and God rewarded her for it. Mk 10:45, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Jesus came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give parts of His life as a sacrifice for others. Jesus is our example, 1 Jn 3:16, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” and 1 Jn 2:6, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” Jesus was always thinking of others, sacrificing for others, however, He always made those sacrifices while still remaining in the will of the Father, Jn 4:34, “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” He never used His ministering as an excuse to walk away from God’s calling for His life. God wants us to minister to one another, Rom 12:15, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” And, there are times we just need to comfort each other.
Jn 15:15, “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” Jesus now calls us His friends, because He has shared the Father with us. He now asks us, His friends, to share the Father with everyone we meet, so they too can become Jesus’ friend, Col 3:12-14, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness” and Matt 12:50, “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
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