FIVE FACTS ABOUT A FRIEND
Like everyone else, I have had friends of all types. I have had: School friends, Social friends, Casual friends, Church friends, Business friends, Fair Weather friends, Good friends, Bad friends, Male friends, Female friends, Friends in high places and Friends in low places. And friends are important. In fact, unless you plan to be cremated, you will have to have six! “It’s a Wonderful Life” is one of the all time classic movies that first appeared in 1946, starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. One of the main lessons in that movie is the statement that the angel (Clarence) made to George, “No man is a failure who has friends!” A cartoon in a newspaper had the first frame showing a thief who was wearing a mask, and his gun was pointed toward a frightened victim. In the next scene the robber is holding out a sack and saying, “Give me all of your valuables!” In the next scene the victim begins stuffing all of his friends into the sack. Friends are one of our most valuable possessions. But we need to know how to be a friend if we are going to have friends. The book of proverbs states “A man who has friends must himself be friendly (Prov. 18:24). An unknown author said:
I went out in the world to find a friend.
And I could not find one there.
Then I went out to be a friend.
And friends were everywhere.
In this article, we will refer to five words to help us understand what a true friend is and how to be a true friend.
1. JOY. A true friend is a “joy.” Webster’s definition of a friend is “one attached to another by affection or esteem.” Close friends are a JOY to have. “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel” (Prov. 27:9). This verse indicates, among other things, that as perfume brings “joy to the heart,” so does the “pleasantness of one’s friend.” Think about friends like “Andy and Barney,” “the Lone Ranger and Tonto,” or “David and Jonathan.” Think about husbands and wives, who are both “friends and lovers.” Think about what the married woman, in the Song of Solomon, said about her husband, “His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my lover, this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem” (ch. 5:16). My wife is my very best and closest friend in the world. It is a joy to have a friend like her and to be a friend to her. When I think of the word friend, I think of the word Joy.
2. ENCOURAGES. The second word is “encourages.” A true friend encourages. Barnabas is known in the Bible as the “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:25). And he had plenty of dear friends. When the church at Jerusalem was sending a letter to the Gentile churches, they “all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul” (Acts 15:25). Barnabas was a dear friend to a lot of people because he was an encourager. He believed in others. When Paul wanted to join the church at Jerusalem, they were afraid of him because of his previous life. But Barnabas took up for him and encouraged them to accept him, which they did (Acts 9:26-28).
3. SUPPORTS. The third word I think of when I think of a friend is “supports.” A friend is one who supports and helps. If one falls down, his friend can help him up But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up (Eccl. 4:10). The Beatles had a song about friends that was really famous at one time in this country. Remember what it was? “I get by with a little help from my friends.”
4. UNDERSTANDS. The fourth word I think about when I think about a friend is the word “understands.” A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity (Prov. 17:17). A friend loves at all times because he understands. We all have “fair-weather” friends who split when adversity strikes. But there is a big difference between a “fair-weather” friend and a “faithful” friend. Someone has said, “A friend is a person who knows all about you, yet loves you anyway.” There was a contest to define the word “friend” and the winning definition read: “A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out.”
5. STICKS. The fifth and final word is the word “sticks.” A friend sticks with you regardless. “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov.18:24). Like Garth Brook’s song, we may have some friends who get in “low places,” but they are still our friends. Another story drives this truth home even more deeply.
“Out of the furnaces of war come many true stories of sacrificial friendship. One such story tells of two friends in World War I, who were inseparable. They had enlisted together, trained together, were shipped overseas together and fought side-by-side in the trenches. During an attack, one of the men was critically wounded in a field filled with barbed wire obstacles, and he was unable to crawl back to his foxhole. The entire area was under a withering enemy crossfire, and it was suicidal to try to reach him. Yet his friend decided to try. Before he could get out of his own trench, his sergeant yanked him back inside and ordered him not to go. “It’s too late. You can’t do him any good, and you’ll only get yourself killed.” A few minutes later, the officer turned his back, and instantly the man was gone after his friend. A few minutes later, he staggered back, mortally wounded, with his friend, now dead, in his arms. The sergeant was both angry and deeply moved. “What a waste,” he blurted out. “He’s dead and you’re dying. It just wasn’t worth it. “With almost his last breath, the dying man replied, “Oh, yes, it was, Sarge. When I got to him, the only thing he said was, ‘I knew you’d come, Jim!’”
One of the true marks of a friend is that he is there when there is every reason for him not to be. As Proverbs 17:17 puts it, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Remember these words when you think of a friend: A true friend is a Joy because he Encourages, Supports, Understands, and Sticks. Now I must admit that I have not always been the friend I should have been. I have let my friends down more times than I like to admit. But this article is really not about us. It is about Jesus, our Savior and Friend. Do you remember that Jesus was known as “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matt. 11:19). And when I think of the word FRIEND, I think of JESUS. That’s J.E.S.U.S. He is the perfect and the ideal friend. The words that we have used to describe a real friend describe Him exactly. He is a JOY to us because He ENCOURAGES us, SUPPORTS us, UNDERSTANDS us and STICKS with us. When you spell His name you can be reminded of these words:
J oy. Joy to the world, the Lord has come (Luke 2:10).
E ncourages. The words I have spoken are spirit and are life (Jn 6:63).
S upports. The Lord is my helper (Heb. 13:6).
U nderstands. He can sympathize with our weaknesses (Heb. 4:15).
S ticks. He said, I will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5).
WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS!!!!