Thanks for joining us today, and a special welcome to first-time readers.
If you are blessed with close friends, you love them dearly and know the feeling is reciprocal. Love of friends is rooted in God’s love – the creator of love. He loves us, we love Him, and we shower our friends with that God-given emotion.
Having a friend(s) means we are engaged in a relationship where we positively and sometimes negatively influence each other while negotiating life’s ups and downs. Unfortunately, close friends can also turn into ruthless enemies, which is heartbreaking. As we know, life is complicated, ever-changing, and reflected in the arc of our friendships.
With those thoughts in mind, we begin with verses addressing how friends can impact each other. Do these verses prove that our mothers were quoting the Bible when they warned us about falling in with the “wrong crowd” and how we would be judged by the company we keep? The Hebrew Bible book of Proverbs could be the source behind those motherly concerns:
“The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Proverbs 12:26).
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20).
“A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28).
“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared” (Proverbs 22:24-25).
Always remember this sound advice from St. Paul in the New Testament:
“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character’ ” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Now we turn to verses about the love, joy, and comfort that friends offer each other:
“My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend” (Job 16:20-21).
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice” (Proverbs 27:9).
Never forget this timeless, biblical advice about how to sustain long term friendships:
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:8-10).
We are reminded that there are Godly consequences for not being a good friend:
“Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:14).
The Hebrew Bible tells us why we should value our friends:
“If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Ecclesiastes 4:10).
Praying for your friends is highly recommended:
“After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10).
For believers in Christ – St. Paul justifies why we must encourage our friends:
“For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing ” (1 Thessalonians 5: 9-11).
St. Paul also teaches us how to be a good friend:
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10).
Most important of all is Jesus’s “command” about love and friends, but with a caveat:
“My command is this: ‘Love each other as I have loved you. 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’ ” (John 15:12-14).
And the big takeaway this Sunday is acknowledging that Jesus is your best friend on Heaven and earth. To remind us, is country singer Alan Jackson with his rendition of the traditional hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Pay close attention to the lyrics for a lesson that will strengthen and sustain you and your friends through difficult times.
Myra Kahn Adams is a conservative political and religious writer with numerous national credits. Her book, “Bible Study For Those Who Don’t Read The Bible,” reprints the first 56 volumes of this popular study. Myra is also Executive Director of SignFromGod.org, a ministry dedicated to Shroud of Turin education. NEWS FLASH: SignFromGod is a proud sponsor of Museum of the Bible’s two opening events for its six-month, high-tech exhibition about the Shroud of Turin. The preview is on February 23, and the grand opening event, February 26. Contact: MyraAdams01@gmail.com or Twitter @MyraKAdams.