Thursday, July 6, 2023

A Faithful Friend (Proverbs 17:17)

"A friend loves at all times" (Prov. 17:17).

In his allegorical classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan poignantly portrays the Christian’s long and often lonely journey to the Celestial City. He tells of Christian’s flight from the City of Destruction, his struggle to enter the wicket gate, his conviction at the Interpreter’s House, and his discovery of freedom and forgiveness at the Cross. Once on his Way, Christian encounters tempters of wealth, of self-righteousness, and of sloth. He even engages in a battle with Satan himself. Alone and without the comfort of a friend, Christian plunges his way through the snares and pitfalls of this world. Until at last, God blesses him with a companion to give him comfort along the way and to sharpen him with godly conversation and reproof. Bunyan calls the friend “Faithful.”

Bunyan captured the one attribute that most characterizes a true friend—he is faithful even in the midst of adversity. And do we not see this attribute perfectly portrayed in the person of Christ? He, above all others, is faithful. When we need a friend most, often one is not there. It is the common experience that the company of friends is rich—even carefree—in times of pleasure, but it is when times are difficult that the love of a friend is most meaningful. Are you that kind of friend? Are you like Christ who “loves at all times”? Do you love even when you disagree with your friend? Do you love when others have forsaken your friend? Are you faithful to meet the needs of your friend even when it costs you dearly? Christ is such a friend, and are we not called to be like Christ?

Such a calling is not so heavenly that it transcends the everyday relationships of this world. Instead, it has direct bearing on those relationships. Conformity to Christ means you love the unlovely. Jesus touched the man afflicted by leprosy, he walked among the outcasts and the poor. He fed the hungry and gave sight to the blind. He ate with tax collectors and sinners. Do you strive to be such a friend? Are you willing to remain faithful to your friends, even when the world mocks you, beats you, and threatens you with a horrible death? This was the kind of friend Faithful was to Christian, and this is the kind of friend Christ is to you. Go, then, and do likewise.

Have you snubbed someone because they didn’t measure up, or because they did something you didn’t like? If so, apologize to that friend for your unfaithfulness. Have you been rejected by a friend? Pray about the situation and ask the person to see beyond your faults even as Christ has seen beyond theirs.