I have been blessed in my life to have a hand full of good friends. These would not be mere acquaintances, but true friends by every definition of the word. My friends have seen my good and bad sides, and have carried me through both, enduring the celebration that comes from achievement, and keeping me from hitting bottom as a result of disappointment. They truly know me, and like me anyway. My friends come near when needed, often without being asked. They stay in touch for no reason at all. They speak into my life what I need to hear, not what I want to hear. Though we may be separated by many miles, we pick up right where we left off when we come together. They have forgiven me for thoughtless things I have said and done, not because I deserved forgiveness, but because our friendship was more important. These relationships have stood the test of time. I am currently working on a few new friendships I believe will endure, although I have learned to proceed slowly when cultivating an acquaintance into a friendship. There is great joy in having a true friend.
The Bible has much to say on friends and friendship. From the Book of Proverbs, consider
- 17:17- “A friend loves at all times.”
- 18:24- “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
- 27:6- “Wounds from a friend can be trusted.”
- 27:10- “Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father.”
- 27:17- “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another [his friend-Amplified Version].
The Bible mentions some who were friends of God. In Genesis 5: 21-24, we see that Enoch walked with God 300 years, then he was no more, because God translated him to heaven without him dying. This is confirmed in Hebrews 11: 6, which goes on to say Enoch was commended as one who pleased God. He not only spoke with God and walked with Him as a friend for 300 years, he spoke for God, as we see in his prophesy recorded in Jude 14.
Moses also spoke with God as a friend, face to face in the tent of meeting, according to Exodus 33: 11. God told Moses His presence would go with him as he led the people on the exodus from Egypt, and would give him rest (v.14). In verse 17, God said He was pleased with Moses, and knew him by name. Their friendship was such that when Moses died, God buried him in a place known only to God (Deuteronomy 34: 6). In Jude 9, the archangel Michael was dispatched to handle the dispute with the devil over Moses’ body. God was very faithful to His friend Moses.
Starting in Genesis Chapter 12, we see Abraham followed and obeyed God, and his faith was credited to him as righteousness. God promised to bless him and make his descendants a great nation, as numerous as the stars and the grains of sand. He appeared to Abraham to tell him of His plans to destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. God blessed him and his wife Sarah with a son at an old age. In James 2: 23, “he was called God’s friend.”
John Chapter 11 tells the story of Jesus and his friends Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, who were brother and sisters. In Luke 7: 36-50, we learn that Mary had lived a sinful life, yet was so grateful for Jesus’ love and forgiveness she poured an expensive bottle of perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. When Lazarus became sick the sisters sent word to Jesus. Jesus waited and prayed, because He only did what the Father told Him to do. When He was released to go and finally arrived, Lazarus was dead. Jesus was deeply moved and troubled in His spirit. He wept out of great love for His friend and his sisters. Although Lazarus was already four days in the grave, Jesus was not too late. By prayer, He knew what His friends needed as compared to what they wanted. He raised Lazarus from the dead and freed him from the tomb. A true friend loves the ones said to be unlovable, comes when trouble arises, and by prayer brings them what they need.
Finally, in John 15: 12-15, Jesus gave His disciples the model for friendship that is passed on to all believers. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
The ancients in the Bible that are called friends of God not only knew God, but they obeyed Him out of love and trust. In the Scripture above, we are called to love each other, and to love God. We show our love for God by obeying Him. We do not obey Him because we are slaves. He has our best interest in mind when he calls us to obey Him. If we know and love him, we will trust His intentions for us and His good plan for our lives. We will then obey out of love, not out of slavery. In verses 9-11 of John 15, Jesus says “Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
My true friends here on earth are a highly esteemed treasure. I would not trade them for anything. However, I earnestly desire a friendship with the Creator of the universe. His word tells me He wants that same friendship with me. Such a relationship would complete my joy. Love, trust, and obedience are the keys to being called a friend of God. There is great joy in having a true friend. I will not be fulfilled until I hear Him say “I call you friend.”