WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
NOVEMBER 17, 2021
TOPIC: ESSENTIALS OF TRUE FRIENDSHIP
BY T. O. BANSO
“‘Is this the way you treat your friend David?’ Absalom asked him. ‘Why aren’t you with him?’” (2 Samuel 16:17 New King James Version)
It is one thing to be a friend to someone and another thing for the person to be one’s friend. Perhaps, I should put it this way: Does the person you call your friend see you as his friend?
It’s possible for someone you regard as your friend not to see you as his friend. In that case, investment in the relationship or sacrifice will be one-sided. Because your friendship is not reciprocated, it shows the person does not appreciate you or value the relationship.
Friendship is vital in human existence. God created man for relationships – relationships with Him and with fellow human beings. You can relate with others without being their friends or them being your friends. But the people that some folks consider as their friends are not true friends.
Jesus said in Luke 16:9, “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home” (New King James Version). Another translation says, “And I say to you, Make friends for yourselves through the wealth of this life, so that when it comes to an end, you may be taken into the eternal resting-places” (Bible in Basic English).
In Luke 11, we see the importance of true friendship in Jesus’ parable on prayer where a friend arrived at midnight in a friend’s house from a journey and the host did not have any food to set before him. He had to go and knock at another friend’s house, trouble him, and knock to borrow three loaves.
Although the parable is on prayer, it also points out something about true friendship. That friend didn’t want his friend to sleep without eating so he had to go and trouble another friend at an odd hour. And because of his persistence, his request was granted (Luke 11:5-8). Can your friends inconvenience themselves for you in your time of need? Can you do the same for them?
Friendship has both positive and negative impacts on people’s lives. Some people are regretting today because of what some friends caused in their lives while some have attained greatness or living better and happier lives because of good friendships. Bad company corrupts good character (1 Corinthians 15:33). Proverbs 13:20 says He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.
You need true friends so that you can enjoy the benefits of friendship. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labour. You need healthy friendship. Loneliness could put people at the risk of physical illness, mental health problems, sleep disorders, depression, or suicide. Studies have shown that friendship is associated with greater happiness, physical health, well-being, healthy self-esteem, longevity, etc. You need to cultivate good friendships. You need true friends in your life.
Are you a true friend? Will you consider your friends as true friends? Are they selfless or selfish? Are you using them or are they using you? “All the brothers of the poor hate him; how much more do his friends go far from him! He may pursue them with words, yet they abandon him” (Proverbs 19:7 New King James Version). Are your friends only after your money or is your interest in their wealth? Proverbs 14:20 says the poor man is hated even by his own neighbour, but the rich has many friends.
The goal of friendship is more than selfish financial or material benefit. True friendship will impact your life positively, affecting your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Jesus told the demon-possessed man he healed in Mark 5 but did not permit to go with him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you” (Mark 5:19 New King James Version).
You and your friends need each other. But you must choose your friends carefully. When Lazarus was sick, his sister, Mary and Martha, sent for Jesus, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick” (John 11:3 New King James Version). Lazarus was Jesus’ friend.
John 11:5 says Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Jesus later told His disciples, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up” (verse 11). By that, He meant that Lazarus was dead. He delayed two days before he went to Lazarus’ house at Bethany and he had been dead for four days and buried when he got there. But Jesus raised him back to life.
What kind of friends do you have? David sent his friend, Hushai, as a mole to Absalom, his son, to defeat Ahitophel’s counsel after he had fled Jerusalem following Absalom’s rebellion. Thinking that Hushai had truly abandoned his father for him, Absalom asked Hushai two important questions which point out one essential thing about true friendship. “‘Is this the way you treat your friend David?’ Absalom asked him. ‘Why aren’t you with him?’” (2 Samuel 16:17 New King James Version).
Hushai was a true friend of David and God used him to turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness as David had prayed (2 Samuel 15:31). Loyalty is important in true friendship. Are you loyal to your friends?
If you’re a true friend or your friends are, the following essentials should be evident in your friendship:
1. There should be mutual love and acceptance. Mutual love and acceptance should be evident in true friendship. You should love and accept each other for who you are, which discourages undue criticisms and imposition of one person’s values and ideas on the other. The Bible says to love your neighbour as yourself (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8). This is the kind of love true friends have. “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other” (Romans12:10 New Living Translation).
True friends respect each other and acknowledge their differences as love rules their relationship. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 New King James Version).
2. You should be loyal and dependable. “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need” (Proverbs 17:17 New Living Translation). Be loyal. Be dependable. Don’t be a Judas. Don’t betray your friends. Proverbs 18:24 says, “There are friends who may be a man’s destruction, but there is a lover who keeps nearer than a brother” (Bible in Basic English).
3. You should be trustworthy and honest. You should be real and not pretend. There should be no lying or deceit. Don’t flatter your friends; tell them the painful truth but speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Proverbs 27:5-6 says, “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (New King James Version).
Be truthful and sincere. No gossip. “Gossip separates the best of friends” (Proverbs 16:28b New Living Translation). Being trustworthy and honest also includes keeping your promises. Don’t have reputation for breaking your word.
4. You should be available for each other. If you are too busy to visit your friend or phone him/her from time to time, you’re not a true friend. There can’t be true friendship without communication and fellowship. True friends make out time for each other. If it is one-sided, it could mean the other person doesn’t value the relationship. You will invest time in what you value.
If someone is truly your friend, you’re always looking forward to meeting him/her or talking with him/her because you enjoy, not endure, the person’s presence or company. The person is not a burden to you. Are you always excited to chat or discuss with your friend or are you always excusing yourself? “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17 New King James Version).
Lack of communication or fellowship kills relationships. If you cannot make out time for your time, especially when he/she needs you, it’s doubtful that you’re truly his/her friend. Maybe the fellow is just trying to force himself/herself on you.
5. You should keep each other’s secrets. Can you or do you confide in each other? If you can’t or don’t, it shows there is a deficit of trust. Some people have been betrayed in the past by supposed friends. This has made them extremely cautious about confiding in their friends. You must earn people’s trust before they can confide in you. “Do not trust in a friend; do not put your confidence in a companion; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your bosom” (Micah 7:5 New King James Version).
6. You should advise, encourage, and support each other. Friendship should edify you, not destroy you. This is why you should be careful about the person you choose as your friend. Amnon, David’s oldest son, would not have died prematurely if he had not chosen Jonadab as his friend. He advised Amnon on how to rape his half-sister, Tamar. Jonadab was a very subtle man (2 Samuel 13:3). Two years later, Absalom, Tarma’s brother from the same father and mother, murdered Amnon (verses 23-38).
True friends give each other godly counsel based on the Word of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Proverbs 27:9 says, “The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense” (New Living Translation). They also encourage each other, especially during difficult times. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 New King James Version). The New Living Translation says, “Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”
Be an encourager like Barnabas, the Son of Encouragement (Acts 4:36). Encourage yourself with the Word of God. Psalm 64:5a says the wicked encourage themselves in an evil matter. But true friends should encourage themselves to do what is right. “Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24 New Living Translation).
True friends should comfort each other. “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 New King James Version). The Bible says of Jonathan, David’s covenant friend, “Then Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God” (1 Samuel 23:16 New King James Version).
7. You should be secure and not envious of each other. Job 5:2b says envy slays a simple one and Proverbs 14:30b says envy is rottenness to the bones. Pilate knew the religious leaders handed over Jesus to him to be crucified because of envy (Matthew 27:18; Mark 15:10). True friends are secure are not envious of the success of each other. They celebrate each other. If friends are envious of each other, they’re not true friends.
Jonathan, whom his father, Saul, wanted to succeed him as king was not envious of David. He said to David, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Even my father Saul knows that” (1 Samuel 23:17 New King James Version).
8. You should avoid selfishness. Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (New King James Version).
Selflessness, not selfishness, is one of the requirements of true friendship. True friends put their friends first. They are generous and kind but don’t abuse it, knowing that everyone has his/her own issues. Be selfless and kind. Job said, “To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend” (Job 6:14a New King James Version).
9. You should be patient and forgiving. True friendship also requires that you are patient with each other and forgiving. Lack of this destroys friendship. Colossians 3:13 says we should bear with and forgive one another, even as Christ forgave us
Friendship will, sometimes, develop relational problems but true friends will always pursue peace (Hebrews 12:14, Romans 12:18; 14:19). “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1 New King James Version).
True friends should willingly forgive each other. “He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends” (Proverbs 17:9 New King James Version). The apostle Peter said, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins’” (1 Peter 4:8 New King James Version).
10. You should pray for each other. Do you pray for your friends? Whereas sinner-friends meet to gossip and commit other sins, true, godly friends should pray for each other and together. Jesus said, “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:19 new King James Version).
Pray for your friends just as you chat. Forgive each other so that your prayers will not be hindered. Job 42:10 says, “And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before” (New King James Version).
Are you a true friend? Do you have true friends?
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, help me to choose my friends wisely. Father, give me true friends that we will enrich each other’s life and our lives will be better. I shall treat my friend well in Jesus’ name.
(For over 600 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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