Wednesday, July 5, 2023

The Perfect Friend (Proverbs 18:24; John 13:1–17)

"… there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Prov. 18:24b).

If you do not know how to be a friend, learn from Him who is the perfect friend. Jesus Christ gave His life for the salvation of those who scorned Him, mocked Him, and beat Him with all the hatred of the world. But because He loved His people so much, He suffered the humiliation of this world to provide a way for the lost to be found.

Jesus Christ “is a friend to them that have no other friend; to those who have been His bitterest enemies,” Bridges wrote, “a friend who abides, when all others have passed away. Mark Him as a present friend, known and tried, able to enter into all that most deeply affects us; in temptation opening, when needed, ‘a way of escape;’ in affliction cheering with the Divine Comforter; ‘in sickness making our bed;’ in death sustaining us by ‘His rod and staff;’ in eternity ‘receiving us to Himself.’ ”

The friendship of Christ is not earned. He loves us even when we fail to return that love. His love perseveres despite our sin and over-looks our folly. He loves with an everlasting, faithful, and tender love. What stronger proof is there of our depravity than for us to reject such a friend? While we desperately need Him, not only as our example, but as our Savior, we would have nothing to do with Him.

In times of sorrow, grief, and pain, what earthly friend can provide the comfort Christ provides? When the crisis demands more than the inadequate and temporary salves of this world; when we lie gasping on the edge of time between this world and the next, looking back with regret and forward with fear; when the faces of friends appear helpless about us; then, more than ever, do we need a friend that sticks closer than a brother. When we face the judgment of God, when eternity spreads before us, when we finally approach a divided road—one leading to eternal bliss, the other to eternal torment—then great is our need of Christ. Only He can be the friend who can carry us through the veil of death, speak for us on the day of judgment, and fill us with joy for eternity. This friend, who humbled Himself, suffered the trials of this life, died on a cross in shame and humiliation—this is the friend we need to fill our lonely lives and teach us to love others, even as He has loved us.

Ask your pastor or an elder if there is anyone in the church who seems to be lonely, or is going through a difficult time and needs a friend. Pray about whether this is someone to whom God wants you to minister. Think of ways you can be a friend to that person. Give them a call, make them dinner, invite them for a Sunday visit, etc.