Tuesday, 5 March 2013

A True friend stays closer than a Brother

 “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24NKJV)

The Scriptures speak much to us about friendship. The subject of friendship is given a high priority in the Bible. We are warned, for instance, of the evil of friendships with the world (James 4:4). He who will be the friend of the world is the enemy of God. Further, the Bible teaches us that we are to establish our friendships based upon faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  

King Solomon here recommends friendship to us, and shows, what we must do that we may bond and cultivate friendship; we must show ourselves friendly. This is one of the greatest verses on the subject of friendship, and it makes two vital points. First, to have friends we must be friendly. In other words, the secret to meaningful relationships is not found in seeking friends but in being a friend. The second is an ultimate Friend for each of us, a Friend who is closer than a brother, a Friend who is truly interested in us with no thought of what's in it for Him. Somewhere there's someone who cares about us more than anyone else. There is someone who loved and laid His life for me and you. His Name Is Jesus, he said …. “You are my friends.....I have called you friends" (John 15:13-15) This is why  Joseph M. Scriven wrote in his poem, “What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grief’s to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer, what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.” Jesus alone knows our every thought, word, and deed; past, present, and future, yet still pours out his love. Not only does Jesus love us, but he extends his grace to free us from our self-afflicted failures.

Generally speaking whatever age you are, your friends are an important element in your life. Here are few compelling reasons to keep friendships alive while making new ones. Changes are inevitable, an ongoing part of our lives. However, we can continue nurturing our friendships if we have the desire to do so.  A true friend will try to understand the absence of a friend in times of crisis and would accept any forms of connection that is available. In this world of technology, distance is no longer a burden in nurturing a friendship. We can always connect if we find way because according the secular research friendship is greatly beneficial to the following areas of our life.

1)     Edify us to overcome Anxiety and worry. We all know that loneliness makes us unhappy, but research suggests it can be a killer, too. A study found lonely people reacted more intensely to life’s challenges. For some people, that led to elevated levels of the stress hormone epinephrine, which can result in high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes over time.

2)     Motivate us to maintain Physical fitness-Health habits can be contagious among friends, so lead the way. US researchers who analyzed the social ties of more than 12,000 people found clusters of obese people and clusters of thin people, suggesting that friends have a strong influence on each other’s weight.

3)     Help us to live Longer Life-Reach out to friends with health problems – they may find it tough to ask for your support. According to researchers  who looked at 500 women with symptoms of coronary artery disease, those with few personal contacts in their day-to- day life were twice as likely to die over the following two to four years as those who had more friends.

4)     Encourage us to keep Healthy relationships- Friendships give you the opportunity to sharpen your relationships skills, which, research suggests, can help pave the way for stronger intimate relationships. Studies indicate that people who lack close relationships are more prone to depression, alcohol and drug abuse.

5)     Inspire us to be Creative and Proactive- Children who are good at sports tend to be happier with their friendships, and researchers say the same applies to adults. Bolster your friendships by exercising with pals.
There is an example of true friendship in the Bible between David and Saul's son Jonathan, who, in spite of his father Saul's pursuit of David and attempts to kill him, stood by his friend. You will find that story in 1 Samuel chapter 18 through chapter 20. These two men truly cared for each other and had great trust and confidence in one another. David was running for his life from Jonathan's father, Saul. Jonathan recognized that David was innocent. Because of the true friendship they shared, David survived Saul's assassination attempts and went on to become one of Israel's greatest. Proverbs is another good source of wisdom regarding friends. "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity" (proverbs 17:17). "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (proverbs 18:24). The issue here is that in order to have a friend, one must be a friend. "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses" (proverbs 27:6).

Later King David was disappointed in his friends. He could not trust his closest friend. (Psa. 35:14-16) This is not so with our friend Jesus. He is a forever friend, when we are faithful like Abraham. (Isa 41:8) He is a friend who “loves at all times”. (Prov. 17:17) He will "stick closer than a brother". (Prov.18:24)

The important trait of such true friendship is that we are not much worried about exposing ourselves. We speak about everything in our mind without worrying about what our friends will think. We are sure that they will take our talk in the spirit it was made. We are unguarded and open with friends in our talk. The book of Proverbs is another good source of wisdom regarding friends. “A friend loves at all times, and a A true friend is a little more than a very good friend. A true friend will support you even if it hurts his/her own interest. A true friend will understand your motives and needs and will be with you without any analysis or criticism. A true friend will come forward to help without any request and be with us in need without showing it or expecting anything in return. With a true friend, you can be sure that you will get help to the extent possible by him/her. Nothing will remain unturned. A mother is a true friend of her children. If we share such relations with an adult we can say that we are true friends. Friends are of like mind, as most common principle of friendship goes” Can two walk   together, except they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3)

True friendship stories are found throughout the Bible. In Genesis 18:17-33, we read about God sharing His intentions with Abraham. Abraham responds by telling God his thoughts and feelings about the situation. God and Abraham are able to do this because they trusted and respected each other. 

In Exodus 33:11, “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.” God spoke to Moses like a friend directly, face to face. It is more like a meeting a person and speaking directly instead of talking over the phone. If we therefore spend time with God through prayer and walk according to His word, He will talk with us and lead us by His hand. A true friend will share what he has. This is so with Jesus. We do not have to be rich to have the friendship of Jesus. He was sent to poor of this world.( Luke. 4:18 ) " Though He was rich , yet for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might become rich. (11Cor. 8:9)

Our text in New Living Translation says “There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” And NIV says “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24) We should translate our text this way: A man of friends may be broken up, but (by contrast) there is lover who sticks closer than a brother. The idea is that the first part of the verse, the first clause, emphasizes the truth of the limitation of human friendships, of even hallowed and intimate friendships in this present life. A man of friends, that is, a person who possesses friends, may be broken up. He may still suffer an experience in life which devastates him. The word "broken up" literally means "to break in pieces by a blow." But, and here is the contrast, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” There is a friend whose friendship has no limitations. There is a friend whose friendship will never fail, nothing can separate you from it, and nothing can part us from Him.

Paul said in Romans 8:35, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, For I am persuaded that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Jesus Christ is the unique friend. He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother. He is in a class by Himself. No one else can be a friend as He is a friend that stays closer than a brother, and that friend is Jesus. Jesus Himself identifies Himself as the friend of God's people in John 15:13-15. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down 
one’s life for one’s 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.”It is in this aspect, as a friend, that He discloses to us the depths of His heart, the depths of God's purpose and love.

Jesus is the friend that sticks closer than a brother was testified also by His enemies, in Mathew 11:19. His enemies identified Him as our friend when, observing His mingling with His people whom He had come to call to repentance, and seeing that He was unafraid to associate Himself with them, they said in mockery: "He is a friend of publicans and sinners."

And, if you still have any doubt that this is Jesus Christ who is the friend that stays closer than a brother, then hear His own words in Mathew 28:20 when He ascended up into heaven. He said, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."  There is a limitation of all human friendships. No matter how close and intimate, no matter how holy and sanctified in Jesus Christ, a person who has friends may yet be broken up. The mere fact of human friendship cannot protect you from being devastated. You may, indeed, come to a point where your friends, your intimate friends, a husband or a wife or that close friend, cannot stand between you and death and adversity.

 Do you have friends? Yet, you may be broken up, that is, you may come to a time in your life's journey where these friends cannot walk with you. It may be some mental agony, some profound and deep anxiety or anguish. It may be some personal fear or struggle that you simply cannot divulge to anybody, that you do not even know words that could explain what you are feeling. It may be upon a bed of pain with your friends and loved ones standing by you, unable to know what you are experiencing at that moment in your heart. Then there is death. What friend on the earth, no matter how intimate that person may be with you, will go with you in death, will be able to hold your hand as you pass through death? No. No matter how intimate your friends are, the hand of that friendship is parted in death. They let go of you in death. You pass over without them, without your wife, without your husband, without your friend, without your dear loved one.
Yes, he who has friends may be broken up. But there is a friend that stays closer than a brother. There is a friend to whom there are no limitations. That is, there is no darkness or pain, sorrow or fear, not even death and the grave, that can part us from Him. There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. You see, behind this proverb is the great truth revealed in the Bible that God, of free grace, has placed His children in Jesus Christ, and has done this before the world began.

Now, when it speaks here of a brother, it is referring to the highest affection which is known among men, the affection of a physical brother to his physical brother. Under the blessing of God, that is a very intimate tie. That, too, needs the grace of God and the cultivating of the Word of God because that is not always so. Sometimes physical brothers can be opposites. They can be so different. The Bible gives us the example of Jacob and Esau. They were twin brothers, yet they were not close. Spiritually they were different, totally different. But yet, it is true that between one's physical brother or sister can exist a most intimate bond and tie. There is nothing so precious as to love your flesh and blood brother or sister, to enjoy each other's company, to have an ease in each other's fellowship, to have a kindred feeling and to know what the other person is feeling, and to have someone who is of a kindred soul and has sympathy for your thoughts and loves you to such an extent that he will die for you. Oh, the love between brothers can be so deep and intimate and real.

But Scripture is declaring here that Jesus Christ sticks closer than any brother. He is the faithful friend. The word "sticks" is literally "cleave" or "adhere." It refers to the soldering of metals, of joining metals together. Jesus Christ is the one who sticks, who is faithful to His children. Jesus Christ, the friend who is closer than any brother,  He was our friend to stand in our place and to die for us. 2 Timothy 2:13, "He cannot deny himself." He abode faithful; He is the friend closer than any brother. Do you live in the consciousness of His abiding faithfulness and love? if you live in sin He will not give you to know that He is your friend. If you walk in deception or self-righteousness He will put distance between you and Him, He will not give you to experience this blessing. No, He grants it only in the way of obedience, only in the way of knowing and confessing and hating our sins. In that way He reveals the blessedness and the wonder that He is our faithful friend and Savior.

In your hour of desperation, a true friend will support you even if the whole world opposes you. As Jesus taught in the parable of Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) A true friend is not an opportunist.  Rather he understands and readily willing to help and share compassionate feelings in soul, body and mind. There is a true friend who chosen you first and knew you before you were born. Jesus Christ the son of the living God. He is the truest friend, who will never forsake or disappoint.  He’s a friend that you can count on, and trust. Jesus is the only friend you can call a True Friend, who is always faithful and just. Your heart, your soul, your mind, Jesus is the greatest friend you are ever going to find. A friend who will stand by you, Is a real friend, indeed. Jesus is the one true friend; you are always going to need.

 Jesus is the only true friend, who loved us unconditionally, revealing all that the Father said, in the scriptures. He revealed it to his disciples from time to time. Only when a friend shares his secrets with the other, he is a real friend.  Jesus never revealed your secrets to other, he forgives your sin, when you confess, and forgets it forever. A true friend forgives once you confess your sins, believe Jesus has forgiven you, don’t keep on having the same guilt inside your heart, even after you confess. But if you don’t confess, he will reveal the same through his chosen servants. God reveals his secrets to his servants; nothing can be hidden from the servants of God.

True friendship involves relationship. Many people say, "Oh, he's a good friend of mine," yet they never take time to spend time with that "good friend." Friendship takes time: time to get to know each other, time to build shared memories, time to invest in each other's growth. Honesty is always first and foremost in a relationship. Even when speaking the truth in love is difficult and painful, a true friend will lovingly confront. Jesus is our best friend for he will not fail us, but always corrects us when we need it. Freedom exists in our relationship with Jesus to be forthright; he will confront our faults as only a true friend can do. Jesus is an excellent friend.

A good friend understands and emotionally supports their companion even if their failures are the result of their own stupidity and stubbornness. True friends trust in one another implicitly even when circumstances would question that loyalty. Jesus made a covenant bond with us; he will never leave us or forsake us. Jesus is a truly reliable friend. Finding a good friend is like looking for a diamond on a beach of glass. They all sparkle but the true valuable diamond that is worth everything, and is oh so hard to find. That’s the challenge of finding a true friend. What characteristics make up a true friend? Let’s find out.

A true friend is always “there” for you. When your heart is broken over a lost lover or a missed promotion or when someone has been cruel to you. That friend is there to listen, let you vent, hold you, and give good council

A true friend is there in spite of your bad choices. That friend will stand by you when everyone else around you has written you off as a loser. That friend will help you up, dust you off and walk with you in spite of public opinion against them for doing it. A good friend like this is almost impossible to find; a true diamond among glass. If you can find one friend like this, you can be counted among the richest people in the world regardless of how much money you have in the bank.

I’m sure that there are people out there who can be considered true friends. I have few friends that I know I can go to when I’m in trouble, but the ONLY friend I have that I can talk to every day, tell my deepest feelings and secrets to any time; day or night; and know that it will go no further. That friend is Jesus. He is very real and very near to me. He loves me when I’m right or wrong, when I screw up and make a total mess of my life. The Bible says that he is a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

A true friend is like a gem, but many a times, we tend to take friends for granted, just as we take this short journey through life for granted. “Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”What is it that you cherish most in life? Some say it would be their closest and best friends. At the root of it all, we must always maintain the center of our being and know that there is only true friendship in Jesus Christ...the only one who is the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6)...the friend and companion that we must know, like and trust. In a nutshell; He was killed for your sins and He rose again on the third day because He was a sinless person. His death and resurrection allows you to come to Him freely to enter in to a personal relationship with Him. To become His friend! To finally have a friend who is always on your side and won’t desert you no matter what you do.
Even if you are one of those lucky people who have a lot of people who really care about you, there is no friendship that can compare to the friendship that a relationship with Jesus Christ has. There is one thing that Jesus has that NO human or any other leader has: the PEACE that passes all understanding. That peace is so powerful. It helps get you through the toughest times and makes the good times so much more wonderful. He alone can give you that peace.

Trust is essential to true friendship. We all need someone with whom we can share our lives, thoughts, feelings, and frustrations. We need to be able to share our deepest secrets with someone, without worrying that those secrets will end up on the media and Internet the next day! Failing to be trustworthy with those intimate secrets can destroy a friendship in a hurry. Faithfulness and loyalty are key to true friendship. Without them, we often feel betrayed, left out, and lonely. In true friendship, there is no backbiting, no negative thoughts, no turning away.

True friendship requires certain accountability factors. Real friends encourage one another and forgive one another where there has been an offense. Genuine friendship supports during times of struggle. Friends are dependable. In true friendship, unconditional love develops. We love our friends no matter what and we always want the best for our friends.

Real and true friendship involves freedom of choice, responsibility, truth, and forgiveness. Peter and Jesus give us this example: Peter, afraid for his life after Jesus is led away from the Garden of Gethsemane, denies knowing Jesus (John 18). As He is led away by His accusers, Jesus casts a look toward Peter that says, "I knew you would deny Me, and I forgive you" (John 21).

Real friendship looks at the heart, not just the "packaging." Genuine friendship loves for love's sake, not just for what it can get in return. True friendship is both challenging and exciting. It risks, it overlooks faults, and it loves unconditionally, but it also involves being truthful, even though it may hurt. Genuine friendship, also called "agape" love, comes from the Lord. The Lord Jesus calls us His friends and He laid down His life for us (John 15).

A real friend is one who shares your feelings and be with you in all your troubles. In our world there are lots of friendships. We share messages / sms with our friends and also celebrate a day called ‘friendship day’. But there are very few friends in this world who care for us and help us in our troubles. Real friends need to share, help and revive each other, if you can’t do that, you cannot be called a trust worthy and true friend.

Finally, the real definition of a true friend comes from the Apostle Paul: "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:7-8). "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends." (John 15:13). Now, that is true friendship! We give gifts and sometimes very valuable ones, to our friends but the love and sacrifice of Jesus is incomparable to our earthly friendship. John 15:14 says- “You are my friends if you do what I command”.You don’t have to die for Jesus, but you only obey his commandments you will indeed become his true friend.

We all really need friends. It should be true in our marriages, with our children, and even with extended family members. The Lord desires this kind of truly deep-level committed friendships to become more of a reality in our lives instead of something that is a rarity. This must begin with our own motivation to be a covenant friend, like Jesus: A covenant friend who really loves you by covering your sin. A friend who loves you for the rest of your life and will always be there for you when you are going through life’s hardest times. A true friend will give you wise counsel and tell you the Truth instead of manipulating you. He will listen to you when you need to get the pain of your heart out in the open even when you’re wrong. Christ is a real friend who is a source of comfort in times of grief and pain. He is a faithful friend who gives the grace of God to strengthen and encourage your soul and a caring friend with whom you are able to share your life’s deepest hopes, dreams and desires without rejection. He is a compassionate friend who weeps with you when you are weeping and a passionate friend who laughs with you when you are laughing. Jesus Christ is a reliable and trustworthy friend with whom you are able to share your life’s deepest secrets and feel confident that He will always love you.

To be a covenant friend you must love Christ first, – And a covenant friend, is willing to lay down his life for you because he has truly known the love of Christ. Do you need a friend? God wants to be your true friend. Are you longing for companionship? God is always with you (Hebrews 13:5). Who do you know who needs a true friend today? God wants you to befriend others. He calls us to be His hands and feet in a world starving for true friendship.

Now, Jesus already knows all about you, as does His Father, God, in Heaven. They designed and created you, saw all the unfortunate things that have happened in your life, and have been waiting patiently all your life for you to reach the point where you want good fellowship restored between you and them, as it was meant to be. This happens when you believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and acknowledge and confess your sin. When you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and accept Him as your personal Savoir and Lord immediately you are cleansed of every wrong thought, word or deed you have ever done or had. God completely washes away every record of sin tied to your name! You may or may not have a tremendous sense of a lifting of guilt and shame. This is a spiritual transaction, and sometimes emotions don't catch up until later. If a sense of guilt or depression continues, it might be wise to list all the sins that have been plaguing your conscience and one by one, tell God you are sorry for them, and would like them washed away in the blood Jesus shed on the cross for you. If you have been sincere, with nothing held back, then you may just as confidently claim the promise in I John 1:9, where we are told, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will cleanse us of every sin."

Believe also that Jesus rose again from the dead and went back to Heaven to prepare a home for us. If He had not, we might be forgiven but would have no power to live holy and pleasingly before God. The same Jesus that forgives us, by His resurrection, helps us to be good. If you want to meet Jesus now, you can. He is waiting to hear your cry and call to Him. He desperately wants to come into your heart and be your Lord and best friend.
 God Bless you