Of Friends and Family

Proverb 18: 24

God’s Word

Friends can destroy one another, but a loving friend can stick closer than family.


One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

I have been thinking about friendship much lately. To capture what I have been thinking I need both translations above. First, a good friend can be a source of tremendous joy and support. There is a type of friend who loves, accepts and supports better than family. They honor their friends and appreciates their achievements without being judgmental of the failures. If you have the great fortune to have this kind of friend, hang on to them. They are a pure joy, a blessing from heaven. David had a friend like this. King Saul’s son, Jonathan, loved David like a brother, or even better. Their hearts were knit together.

There is also the other kind of “friend” mentioned in the verse above. Some people call themselves a friend but are more likely to bring you to ruin than to help you grow. They truly have the power to destroy and they wield it. It is sad when friends injure friends, but it happens. In those times, you realize they were not truly friends at all. True friends should be as Jesus, sacrificial. They should exhibit the Christ like ideal of serving others rather than being so self-absorbed. One of the problems we encounter in the world is that people are damaged commodities.

None of us get through this world unscathed. It is only the love of the Father and the healing touch of Jesus which repairs the injuries we pick up as we travel through the world. So, those who do not allow themselves to be healed, will often hurt others. It’s not that they intend to cause harm, but they are so busy protecting themselves and looking after their self-interests that they will cause injury to others. Of course, they have a way of justifying their behavior. Mostly, they will blame the person to whom they owe fealty but abandon. To put it plainly, they will stab you in the back, yet blame you. In their brokenness, they must find a way to excuse their behavior because in their hearts, they know they are wrong.

Most of you have experienced both kinds of friends. The one who love you better than your family is a treasure more valuable than gold. The other kind of friend will cause you deep pain, hurt and confusion. Here is my advice for both kinds of friends: thank God for the former and pray for the latter. Certainly, do a self-evaluation and prayerfully consider whether there is something within you which needs addressing but don’t carry other people’s damage in your heart. Pray for them and let them go.

Spend time with Jesus and become close with him. Actually, spend enough quality time talking with him that he feels like a good friend to, you. Tell him your thoughts and invite him to your events. You may find there are times you don’t want to be around other humans because it interferes with your time shared with Jesus. Don’t apologize for that. You need it and Jesus wants to hang out with you.

I want you to have close human friends upon whom you can rely. I want you to enjoy what those special friends can bring to your life. However, I also want you to be so close in your relationship with Jesus that you are never alone. He is the ultimate friend, the friend who loves you even more than family, the friend who will never let you down. He is the best friend any of us can have.

Jesus, Your Brother

Luke 8: 21                  NIV

He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”

Jesus taught how we can be one of his relations, or part of his family.  It is a two-step process.  First we must hear God’s word.  Second, we must put it into practice.  His brother James was listening.  James later wrote, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers, who delude themselves” (James 1: 22).  He said we are supposed to “receive the word implanted” (v. 21).

First we must each ask ourselves, “Do we want to be close with Jesus, even as close as a brother?”  Secondly, “What are we willing to do in order to achieve that personal closeness with him?”  Frankly, not everyone is willing to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus.  That’s okay, it is a personal choice but for those who do crave intimacy with the Lord Jesus he has shown the way. 

Jesus put an emphasis on God’s word.  He told us we must put ourselves in a position to hear God’s word.  Bear in mind they didn’t have the written word in abundance like we do today.  We can “hear” the word in many ways.  One of those ways, I would suggest, is in reading it for ourselves.  Furthermore, there is an incredible amount of free teaching available on television, radio and the internet.  Many ministers even allow people to download this content to their own device.  I find that remarkable.  What other profession gives away their work product for free?  We can hear great messages every single day. 

Brother James teaches us that we are to receive this word implanted.  When you hear the word, you must then receive it.  Just hearing someone speak the Word of the God won’t do a thing for you if you don’t receive it.  I believe James is telling us to plant the Word of God in our hearts.  This principle is well taught by Jesus in Luke 8: 15 where the sower sows the word to our hearts.  There are quite a few scriptures that speak about the relationship between God’s Word and our hearts.  Look at Deuteronomy 6:6 for example, “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.”  This is our starting place then.  We can’t do God’s Word if we do not first hear it and in that hearing receive it into our hearts.  This is not a brain game.  It is a matter of the heart.  What, then, is the condition of your heart?  Is it the good soil that Jesus speaks about in Luke 8 or is it hard like the stony ground?

Fellowship with Jesus begins with God’s Word.  Perhaps hearing that thrills you.  I hope so.  Maybe, though, you are one of those who does not want to give time and place to the Word of God.  I am very sorry because there is no getting around this one.  No amount of intellectualization, even, is going to provide an argument that supports that position.  We must all come to a place in our lives where we are willing to let Jesus be the absolute Lord of our lives and do, therefore, what he says.  Either he is Lord of our lives or he is not but if he is then we should follow his instructions and his teachings.  He came to give us abundant life.  That is all he is trying to do with his instruction.  He is trying to bless us but in order for us to receive the greatest of gifts we are going to have to taste humility.

As you turn your face to Jesus, soften your heart and receive his word implanted therein.  Then we can talk about putting it into practice.  Then we probably won’t have to.