The Treasure of True Christian Friendship
by Tom Stewart
December 11, 2000
Greetings in the name of the LORD, "true
yokefellow" (Philippians 4:3)! The
Eternal God has been faithful in upholding you. "Faithful
is He that calleth you, who also will do it" (5:24). It is never a question of His faithfulness, but of ours. Our many failures
are occasioned by the "little foxes, that
spoil the vines" (Song of Solomon 2:15).
We become so engrossed with the mechanics of living and surviving, that we forget
that the Father is actively and sovereignly using our circumstances to conform us
"to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29). It is difficult to imagine, but the
LORD Jesus had to experience the frailties, limitations, and humiliations of the
"body of this death" (7:24). But, unlike our often failings, He did what
we also need to do. We need to learn our lessons of life in the School of Suffering,
for "all that will live Godly in Christ
Jesus shall suffer" (2Timothy 3:12).
"Though He were a Son, yet learned He
obedience by the things which He suffered" (Hebrews
5:8). In effect, we learn from God, only what we put into our lessons.
"Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh
to you" (James 4:8).
Our assurance that we will always find the oasis of "streams in the desert" (Isaiah 35:6), is twofold.
Remember, God never gives us commands or responsibilities that
are impossible or grievous to be borne. "For
this is the Love of God, that we keep His Commandments: and His Commandments are
not grievous" (1John 5:3). If we
fulfill our twofold responsibility, we will always be fruitful and prosper. "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers
of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither;
and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper" (Psalm 1:3).
The Master said, "Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you" (John 15:14). True Christian friendship is based on sharing a common yoke of service to the LORD. "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3). Christian friends share a common goal of reaching the Celestial City. "10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 16 But now they desire a Better Country, that is, an Heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city" (Hebrews 11:10, 16). A common fellowship of the Word of God is shared in True Christian Friendship, to which the nominally professed Christian pays but lip service. "I am a companion of all them that fear Thee, and of them that keep Thy Precepts" (Psalm 119:63). Dwelling in the midst of a Laodicean Church, it is especially important that True Christian Friends keep the bonds of fellowship strong with those who are serving on the same front. "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the Common Salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the Faith which was once delivered unto the Saints" (Jude 3).
Between Christian Friends, sharing the Word is the "joy and rejoicing of [our] heart[s]" (Jeremiah 15:16). Remember, our obligation to minister the Word to each other is a mutual bond of love. "Fellowlabourer[s] in the Gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith" (1Thessalonians 3:2)-- as much required of one as the other. "For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's" (Philippians 2:20-21). Seeking out the fellowship and friendship of the Godly helps to keep us from forming wrong attachments to the world. "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4). In fact, if our hope is placed firmly in the Word of God, True Christian Friendship is the ultimate result, when the Godly meet. "They that fear Thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in Thy Word" (Psalm 119:74).
Regardless of the degree of success that we may experience in finding True Christian Friends, we can be assured that "there is a Friend [Jesus] that sticketh closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24). And, if True Christian Friends are worth keeping, then periodically, it may become necessary to lovingly reprove the wrong actions of a Christian Friend. "1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the Spirit of Meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the Law of Christ" (Galatians 6:1-2). Even the early apostles had to strive to keep the Unity of Friendship, attempting to set aside unnecessary, non-sinful differences. "Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3). Just as a Christian husband and wife would not allow a non-sinful difference to become an issue to divide them, True Christian Friends will resolve their differences, likewise. "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath" (4:26).
Interceding in prayer for the spiritual and physical needs of especially our True Christian Friends is an obligation of love. "Brethren, pray for us" (1Thessalonians 5:25; 2Thessalonians 3:1; Hebrews 13:18). We may be unable to supply the physical needs of our True Christian Friends-- much less of ourselves-- but, we can intercede to the One Who owns the "cattle upon a thousand hills" (Psalms 50:10). Our agreement in prayer is especially powerful in securing blessing upon the Body of Christ-- and the world. "Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on Earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in Heaven" (Matthew 18:19).
May God bless His people with True Christian Friendship. "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour" (Ecclesiastes 4:9).
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