A TRUE FRIEND
! Bible Reading: Proverbs 17:1-17 Key Verse: Proverbs 17:17- “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Key Words: A friend loveth at all times
Some time back I read this touching story of true friendship; and, indeed, it is a picture of being a true friend.
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 “A friend loveth foxhole. The entire area was under a withering enemy crossfire, and it was suicidal to try to reach at all times, and a him. Yet his friend decided to try. Before he could get out of his own trench, his sergeant brother is born for yanked him back inside and ordered him not to adversity.” 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, when to be there is sacrificially costly. As Proverbs 17:17 puts it, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
What to do: ! Thank God for your “true friend.”
LOVING YOUR FOES
! Bible Reading: Matthew 5:43-48 Key Verse: Matthew 5:44- “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”
Key Words: Love your enemies
Say what?! We are to love our enemies? Wow, that’s difficult, is it not? Not only are we told to love our enemies, we are told how to love them. " Bless them that curse you. " Do good to them that hate you. " Pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.
There is a great illustration of loving your enemies through the life of the widow of Zeev Traum. “In November of 1989, Sergeant Zeev Traum was patrolling the beachfront road south of Gaza City. He and another Israeli soldier were ambushed in their jeep by Palestinian gunmen. The forty-year-old’s death brought a unique dilemma for his widow. She could simply bury her husband, or donate his It’s easy to love heart to an ailing Palestinian. Bittersweet your friends, but revenge could be found if she denied the request and let one of them die, since they killed her the command of husband. Instead, she opted to forgive. So outside the city walls where Jesus Christ replaced God is to love your our heart with his, fifty-four-year-old Hanna Khader, who had waited four months for a heart, enemies. received new life from his political enemy. In response, Zeev’s widow said, ‘If it’s possible to save a man’s life, I think it’s a mitzvah’ (commandment of Jewish law, or meritorious act).” It’s easy to love your friends, but the command of God is to love your enemies. Do you?
What to do: ! Love your enemies.
WHAT IS A FRIEND?
! Bible Reading: I Samuel 18:1-9 Key Verse: I Samuel 18:3- “Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.”
Key Words: because he loved him as his own soul.
A statement I make seldom in public but often in private is that “if you go through your life and have a dozen people that are a true friend, you are indeed a blessed person.” David, during his time of King Saul’s rejection, only had one person who stood with him: his friend, Jonathan. He was such a blessing to David that he said in II Samuel 1:26, “...thy love to me was wonderful.” This raises the question: what is a friend? We have many we call our friend, but who is a true friend? A British publication once offered a prize for the best definition of a friend. Among the thousands of answers received were the following: “One who multiplies joys, divides grief, and whose honesty is inviolable.” “One who understands our silence.” “A volume of sympathy bound in cloth.” “A watch that beats true for all time and never runs down.” The winning definition read: “A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out.” May God bless you with true friends, and I pray God will use you to be a true friend to others. What to do: ! Be a true friend.
VICTORY OVER YOUR FOES
! Bible Reading: Romans 12:9-21 Key Verse: Romans 12:21- “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Key Words: overcome evil with good
One of the most difficult things we as believers must do is to understand that the way to victory over those who hate us doesn’t come by returning evil for evil, but we overcome the enemy by doing good.
Roy Anthony Borges is a prison inmate who, upon becoming a Christian, had some hard lessons to unlearn. All his life he had been taught to hate his enemies, particularly within prison walls. One of his most vexing enemies was Rodney, who stole his radio and headphones one day while Roy was playing volleyball in the prison yard. It was an expensive radio, a gift from his mother. The earphones had been a Christmas present from his sister. Roy was angry and wanted revenge, but as he prayed about it, it seemed to him that God was testing him. Day after day, Roy wanted to respond violently, to knock the wisecrack grin off Rodney’s face, but Romans 12:20-21 kept coming to mind: Paul’s instruction to avoid vengeance, leaving it to God to settle the score. Roy began to look at Rodney through God’s eyes and have compassion on him. He began praying for him. He began trusting God to accomplish something in Rodney’s life. By and by, Roy’s hatred for Rodney began fading, and he found himself helping his enemy and telling him about Jesus. Then one day, Roy later wrote, “I saw Rodney kneeling down next to his bunk reading his Bible, and I knew that good had overcome evil.” It’s not the world’s way to victory, but it is God’s!
What to do: ! Overcome evil with good.
HOW TO HAVE FRIENDS ! Bible Reading: Proverbs 18
Key Verse: Proverbs 18:24- “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Key Words: A man that hath friends must show himself friendly
There is an old saying that goes, “I went out looking for friends and could not find one anywhere. I went out to be a friend and I found friends everywhere.” A man that has friends must show himself friendly. Let me give you the Ten Commandments of friendship. 1. Speak to people. There is something to be said for common courtesy. 2. Smile at people. It helps to brighten up both your day and theirs. 3. Call people by name. This is music to their ears. It says to them: “They know me.”
4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
Be friendly. See key verse above. Be cordial. Anyone can be rude and crude. Be genuinely interested in others. Be generously interested in others. Be considerate of the feelings of others. The biggest lie ever told is “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Not true! Words can crush. 9. Be thoughtful of the opinions of others. 10. Be alert to give service.
Make it your daily responsibility to be friendly. What to do: ! Remember, the only way to have a friend is to be sure you are one.
STANDING ALONE WITH A FRIEND ! Bible Reading: Luke 19:1-10
Key Verse: Luke 19:7- “And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.”
Key Words: And when they saw it, they all murmured
The actions of Jesus were not popular with the “in crowd.” Jesus’ going to be with those who were the outcasts of Jewish society opposed all human thinking and reasoning: “If I stand or sit with them, how can I be popular?”
We need to learn from the actions of Jesus: that life is not about our “popularity” or our standing. Life is about loving and caring and reaching others for the glory of God. This often calls for us to be a friend with those who have no earthly standing and are the outcasts of society.
One example of friendship remains with me as vividly as the moment I first heard of it as a boy. In his first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jackie Robinson, the first black man to play Major League baseball, faced venom nearly everywhere he traveled – fastballs at his head, spikings on the bases, brutal epithets from the opposing dugouts and from the crowds. During one game in Boston, the taunts and racial slurs seemed to reach a peak. In the midst of this, another Dodger, a
Southern white named Pee Wee Reese, called timeout. He walked from his position at shortstop toward Robinson at second base, put his arm around Robinson’s shoulder, and stood there with him for what seemed like a long time. The gesture spoke more eloquently than words: This man is my friend.
Let’s dedicate ourselves to be a friend to one who is friendless. You may find it to be a blessing, not only to them, but to yourself as well.
What to do: ! Be willing to forget popularity and be a friend to the outcast.
THE NATURE OF A FRIEND ! Bible Reading: Matthew 20:1-16
Key Verse: Matthew 20:13- “But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?”
Key Words: Friend, I do thee no wrong
In Matthew 20 Jesus is telling about the kingdom of heaven and uses the analogy of a householder who had a vineyard. The householder went to the work market early in the morning and hired his laborers for a penny a day. At the end of the day, he went back to the work market and hired other laborers, and agreed to pay them a penny a day for their one hour’s worth of work. This upset those who had worked all day for the same pay, and they complained to the householder that this was unfair. It’s the words of the householder to those who are complaining that gets my attention. He calls them a friend. Even though their attitude was not right, it didn’t affect his attitude. He still saw them as a friend. This amazes me! It reminds me of the following story I read in the Eye of the Needle newsletter. “A holy man was engaged in his morning meditation under a tree whose roots stretched out over the riverbank. During his meditation he noticed that the river was rising, and a scorpion caught in the roots was about to drown. He crawled out on the roots and reached down to free the scorpion, but every time he did so, the scorpion struck back at him. An observer came along and said to the holy man, ‘Don’t you know that’s a scorpion, and it’s in the nature of a scorpion to want to
sting?’ To which the holy man replied, ‘That may well be, but it is my nature to save, and must I change my nature because the scorpion does not change its nature?’”
The point being: Our nature should always be one of being friendly even when others aren’t.
What to do: ! Be friendly to everyone, even if they aren’t.
CONSUMED BY HIS ENEMY ! Bible Reading: I Samuel 19:1-18
Key Verse: I Samuel 19:1- “And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David.”
Key Words: that they should kill David
Can you name for me anything good that Saul did for the glory of God? Probably not – because Saul was totally consumed with a man he thought was his enemy.
Is it not true that there are many believers who live like Saul: so consumed with their enemy they forget what they are on this earth for?
I heard about two steamboats that were going down the Mississippi River almost side by side when one crew member called out, “Where are you?” “St. Louie,” called out the crew. “So are we,” echoed back the other crew. The next thing both boats knew was that the race was on. One crew was so determined to win the race that they began to use the material in all the shipping crates as well. They won the race; but at what price? They had gained nothing. They were so consumed with a victory over their enemies, they sacrificed everything.
There are many people like that today. They are so consumed with a victory over their enemies that they accomplish little to nothing else in this life.
Let me remind you that we are not to be filled with envy and jealousy over our enemies; but we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit accomplishing things for God’s glory.
Today, do you want to defeat your foes? Then let them see Jesus in you. What to do: ! Live your life for Christ. Don’t live to see your enemy fall. Let me assure you there is no joy there.
A LESSON IN FRIENDSHIP ! Bible Reading: Proverbs 27:1-10
Key Verse: Proverbs 27:10- “Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.”
Key Words: forsake not
Proverbs is a book of God’s wisdom. In it we find Solomon inspired by the Holy Spirit teaching his sons, Rehoboam and Jeroboam, the wisdom of God.
One of those lessons of wisdom involves true friendship. In verse one, Solomon tells his sons that they are not to forsake, not only their friends, but his friends as well.
The test of true friendship is: who is standing by you during difficult time? A true friend doesn’t forsake you!
Jesse Owens seemed sure to win the long jump at the 1936 games. The year before he had jumped 26 feet, 8 ! inches – a record that would stand for twenty-five years. As he walked to the long-jump pit, however, Owens saw a tall, blue-eyed, blond German taking practice jumps in the 26-foot range. Owens felt nervous. He was acutely aware of the Nazis’ desire to prove “Aryan superiority,” especially over blacks. At this point, the tall German introduced himself as Luz Long. “You should be able to qualify with your eyes closed!” he said to Owens, referring to his two jumps. For the next few moments the black son of a sharecropper and the white model of Nazi manhood chatted. Then Long made a suggestion. Since the qualifying distance was only 23 feet, 5 " inches, why not make a mark several inches before the takeoff board and jump from there, just to play it safe? Owens did and qualified easily. In the finals Owens set an Olympic record and earned the second of four golds. The first person to congratulate him was Luz Long – in full
view of Adolf Hitler. Owens never again saw Long, who was killed in World War II. “You could melt down all the medals and cups I have,” Owens later wrote, “and they wouldn’t be a platting on the 24-carat friendship I felt for Luz Long.”
What to do: ! Dedicate yourself, not just to be an acquaintance, but be a true friend.
! Bible Reading: Proverbs 24:1-18 Key Verse: Proverbs 24:17- “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:”
Key Words: Rejoice not when thy enemy falleth
One of the hardest things that this old flesh has to do is not rejoice when those who have opposed us are going through a difficult time. The natural tendency is to say, “Well, they deserve it.” We are not to be natural, but we are to be spiritual.
In his book, The Grace of Giving, Stephen Olford tells of a Baptist pastor during the American Revolution, Peter Miller, who lives in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, and enjoyed the friendship of George Washington. In Ephrata also lived Michael Wittman, an evil-minded sort who did all he could to oppose and humiliate the pastor. One day Michael Wittman was arrested for treason and sentenced to die. Peter Miller traveled seventy miles on foot to Philadelphia to plead for the life of the traitor. “No, Peter,” General Washington said. “I cannot grant you the life of your friend.” “My friend!” exclaimed the old preacher. “He’s
enemy but a
the bitterest enemy I have.” “What?” cried Washington.
…no longer an
seventy miles to save the life of an enemy? That puts the matter in a different light. I’ll grant your pardon.” And he did. Peter Miller took Michael Wittman back home to Ephrata – no longer an enemy but a friend.
If we could just learn that life is not about you, life is not about me, but life is all about Jesus. It could help us to “rejoice not when thy enemy falleth.”
What to do: ! Be a friend, even to those who claim you as their enemy.
FRIENDS THAT NEED EACH OTHER ! Bible Reading: Proverbs 22:1-11
Key Verse: Proverbs 22:11- “He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.”
Key Words: for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend
A righteous king delights in a pure heart and gracious words. On the other hand, a person full of grace delights in a righteous king. Across the grasslands of east Africa, live some of nature’s most fascinating animals. The rhinoceros, a two-horned terror of tremendous speed, size and agility, is feared by most of the creatures in the wild. Being one of the most dangerous animals in the world, the rhino is avoided by most animals, that is, except the buffalo bird. Watching the rhinoceros in his natural habitat, you would see these birds perched on his back. From time to time, some would be pecking into his back much as a woodpecker would work away at an old tree. Others would be flying about the head of the rhino and still others lighting on his ears and pecking away. The most amazing thing is that the rhino does not attack, for the two have an understanding. From birth, the rhino has poor eyesight. In addition, his body is covered with parasites which he cannot control. The flock of birds on his back does him a great service by eating these parasites, which are the whole of their diet. If there is any danger in the area, these birds let out a shrill call warning the rhino of what he cannot see. In return for this service, they are protected from their natural predators by one of Africa’s largest mammals. In a real sense, these two totally different animals of the world kingdom are fulfilling the responsibilities of mutual friendship. They need each other. So it is in our friendships – we need each other.
What to do: ! Fulfill your role as a “Biblical” friend.
FRIENDS ARE PEACEMAKERS
! Bible Reading: Matthew 5:1-12 Key Verse: Matthew 5:9- “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”
Key Words: Blessed are the peacemakers
We are told in Proverbs 27:9, “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.”
A friend is someone who doesn’t feed the flames of anger and animosity. But they are a calming influence in our lives.
I am reminded of the counsel Naaman received when he became angry over having to go to the Jordan and dip himself. His “friends” did not poke the flames of his wrath, but were a calming influence in his life.
I am reminded of a story I read some years ago about a large statue of Christ that was erected high in the Andes on the border between Argentina and Chile. Called “Christ of the Andes,” the statue symbolizes a pledge between the two countries that as long as the statue stands, there will be peace between Chile and Argentina. Shortly after the statue was erected, the Chileans began to protest that they had been slighted – the statue had its back turned to Chile. Just when tempers were at their highest in Chile, a Chilean newspaperman saved the day. In an editorial that not only satisfied the people but made them laugh, he simply said, “The people of Argentina need more watching over than the Chileans.”
The point is that a friend is not a troublemaker, but a peacemaker...and that’s the type of friend we should all be.
What to do: ! Be a friend that is a peacemaker.
WOUNDS OF A FRIEND
! Bible Reading: II Samuel 12 Key Verse: II Samuel 12:7- “And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;”
Key Words: Thou art the man
The story of Nathan confronting David for his sin with Bathsheba is a very familiar one. While we do not know of Nathan’s and David’s relationship or how close they were to each other, we do know that Nathan acted as a friend. We are told in Proverbs 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.”
General Grant’s faithful friend, his chief of staff, the Galena lawyer, John A. Rawlins...was closer to Grant than any other during the war. It was Rawlins that Grant gave his pledge “Faithful are that he would abstain from intoxicating liquors. When he broke that pledge Rawlins went to him and with the wounds of a great earnestness pleaded with him, for the sake of friend.” himself, and for the sake of the great and holy cause of the nation, to refrain from strong drink. Faithful were the wounds of a friend. In front of the Capitol in Washington today there stands the magnificent monument to General Grant, sitting on his horse in characteristic pose and flanked on either side by stirring battle scenes. But at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a little to the south of the avenue, is Rawlins Park, where there stands a very ordinary, commonplace statue of Rawlins. Whenever I stand before the great monument of Grant on his horse there in front of the Capitol, I think of that other monument. I think of that faithful friend who kept Grant on his horse.
What to do: ! Thank God for a “faithful” friend.
! Bible Reading: Job 5:1-12 Key Verse: Job 5:2- “For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one.” Key Words: envy slayeth the silly one
Think of all those who envied others. Cain envied Abel. Ishmael envied Isaac. Miriam envied Moses. Saul envied David. Envy is a great destroyer. While envy attempts to get even with his “foe,” he destroys himself. According to an ancient Greek legend, a certain athlete ran well but placed second in the race. The winner was encompassed with praise, and eventually a statue was erected in his honor. Envy ate away at the man who had placed second. He resented the winner, and he could think of little else. Eventually he decided to destroy the statue of the winner. Night after night, he went to the statue under cover of darkness, chiseling away at the base to weaken the foundation. But one night as he chiseled in violent anger, he went too far. The heavy marble statue teetered on its base and crashed down on the disgruntled athlete. He died beneath the weight of the marble replica of the man he had grown to hate. His own envy had destroyed him...and it will every time. What to do: ! Love your enemies – it sure beats killing yourself over them.
FRIENDSHIP AND TEAMWORK ! Bible Reading: Matthew 18:1-20
Key Verse: Matthew 18:19- “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.”
Key Words: that if two of you shall agree
We all need friends – someone who helps us, someone who allows us to accomplish what we otherwise could not accomplish.
There’s a wonderful story about Jimmy Durante, one of the great entertainers of a generation ago. He was asked to be a part of a show for World War II veterans. He told them his schedule was very busy and he could afford only a few minutes, but if they wouldn’t mind his doing one short monologue and immediately leaving for his next appointment, he would come. Of course, the show’s director agreed happily. But when Jimmy got on stage, something interesting happened. He went through the short monologue and then stayed. The applause grew louder and louder and he kept staying. Pretty soon, he had been on fifteen, twenty, then thirty minutes. Finally he took a last bow and left the stage. Backstage someone stopped him and said, “I thought you had to go after a few minutes. What happened?”
Jimmy answered, “I did have to go, but I can show you the reason I stayed. You can see for yourself if you’ll look down on the front row.” In the front row were two men, each of whom had lost an arm in the war. One had lost his right arm and the other had lost his left arm. Together, they were able to clap, and that’s exactly what they were doing, loudly and cheerfully.
What to do: ! Remember, friends who team together to bring glory to God can accomplish much.
PERSONAL SACRIFICE ! Bible Reading: Ruth 1:1-22
Key Verse: Ruth 1:19- “So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?”
Key Words: So they two went until they came to Bethlehem
Someone who is a true friend doesn’t think solely of himself, but he puts his friend first. There is no greater example of this than Ruth and Naomi. Naomi put Ruth first by giving Ruth her freedom. We read in verse 8, “And Naomi said unto her two daughters-in-law, Go, return each to her mother’s house.” Then Ruth, who put Naomi first, said in verse 16, “Entreat me not to leave thee.” True friends sacrifice one for the other.
Paul Lee Tom writes, “When you really have a friend, you will disregard personal sacrifice. If you have ever read Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, there is a classic illustration of John 15:13. In fact, Dickens quotes it in the book. “The two people who become friends are Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton. Darnay is a young Frenchman who is thrown in a dungeon and faces the guillotine the next “When you really morning. Carton is a wasted lawyer who has finished his life, as it were, as a loose-living have a friend, you individual there in England. Carton hears of Darnay’s imprisonment and through a chain of will disregard events he gets into the dungeon and he changes garments with Darnay who escapes. The next personal sacrifice.” morning Sydney Carton makes his way up the steps that lead to the guillotine. And Dickens says, as he writes of this, ‘Greater love has no one than this, than one lay down his life for his friend.’ And that’s a classic example of the ultimate in friendship.”
What to do: ! Be a friend – but it will cost you!
THE “COMMAND” TO BE FRIENDLY ! Bible Reading: I Thessalonians 4:5-10
Key Verse: I Thessalonians 4:9- “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.”
Key Words: ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another
The word love comes from the word phileo, where we get the word Philadelphia – you know, the City of Brotherly Love. The word means “to love as a friend.” The command is clear that we are to be a friend to all fellow believers. I find it somewhat unspiritual when someone can’t be friendly with our fellow church members.
Samuel Coleridge wrote a poem titled “Youth and Age” with the line, “Friendship is a sheltering tree.” That is a wonderful word picture. Friends are those whose lives are like branches. They provide shade. They provide refuge from the demanding, irritating, and searing rays of the hot sun. You can find comfort by
them. You can find strength near them. They are tree-like in that they bear fruit that provides nourishment and encouragement. Isn’t it interesting that when something occurs in your life and you are alone, you pick up the phone and call a friend? You want to connect with someone else. Few things are more lonely than going through a sudden test or joy and having no friend to call. All of us can be a shade for those in need.
What to do: ! Be a branch. Provide some shade.
THE WITCH OF WALL STREET ! Bible Reading: Judges 16:1-21
Key Verse: Judges 16:4- “And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.”
Key Words: whose name was Delilah
I guess you could say of Delilah, “With friends like her, who needs enemies?” It reminds me of the story of “The Witch of Wall Street”: Hetty Green could read the newspaper’s financial pages by the age of six. In 1864, at the age of 30, she inherited her father’s million-dollar fortune and began trading on Wall Street with a bold audacity that became legendary. She bought Civil War bonds when others spurned them, and they paid off. Green made ailing businesses profitable by driving stocks up and down. But it was her personal style as much as her skill against such fierce competitors as Jay Gould that earned her the title “the Witch of Wall Street.”
While her peers lived in opulence, Green lived like a pauper. She worked alone on the floor of a bank where she had coerced free space, and for lunch she’d pull a ham sandwich from her grubby pocket.
She married so that her inheritance would go to her children rather than to other relatives. But the children, Ned and Sylvia, were subjected to her brutal thrift. They ate and traveled as cheaply as possible, shuttling to and from dingy hotels to avoid paying property taxes. When Ned was injured in a sledding accident, Green took
him to a charity ward, but she was recognized and charged. Refusing to pay, she treated the wound herself. It festered, and Ned’s leg later had to be amputated.
Hetty Green died in 1916 of a stroke suffered while arguing with a maid over the price of milk.
I’m sure her son, Ned, and others would have said about Hetty, “With a friend like this, who needs enemies?”
What to do: ! Don’t be such a person that when people think of you, they think: “With friends like them, who needs enemies?”
WHEN FRIENDS BECAME FOES ! Bible Reading: Matthew 18:15-22
Key Verse: Matthew 18:15- “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”
Key Words: go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone
Sunrise on July 11, 1804, found Vice President Aaron Burr and former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton standing ten paces apart, each holding a loaded, cocked pistol. They were on a bluff in Weehawken, New Jersey, overlooking the Hudson River. The spot was a popular dueling ground beyond the reach of New York law. Their seconds had measured off the distance. Raising his gun, Hamilton turned it this way and that, and then, apologizing for the delay, he put on his spectacles. This suggested that Hamilton intended to shoot to kill.
On the signal to fire, two shots rang out. Hamilton’s bullet embedded itself in an overhead branch, but Burr’s slammed into Hamilton’s side, sliced through his liver, and lodged in his spine. He died the next day, and the nation he had helped to found reeled in shock.
In the early days of the Republic, there was no law that made dueling illegal; it was a common way for gentlemen to settle differences. Those who refused a challenge were branded cowards, a disgrace to avoid even at the cost of life.
Oddly enough, Hamilton and Burr had once been friends. Both had served in the Continental Army and, after the Revolution, had established successful law
practices in New York, occasionally working on cases together. They both also became involved in politics, Hamilton a Federalist to the core, and Burr favoring a looser coalition of states. Clashing head-on, they became implacable foes, which eventually led to the duel on July 11, 1804.
Now, we would never, never have a gun duel to settle our disputes, but we do tend to shoot people with our tongues. Would you not agree, though, that God has a better plan, and that’s making things right with others?
What to do: ! Handle things God’s way, not man’s way.
FRIENDS LIKE DEMAS ! Bible Reading: II Timothy 4:1-10
Key Verse: II Timothy 4:10- “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.”
Key Words: Demas hath forsaken me
You only read of Demas three times in the Word of God. " Colossians 4:14 ~ Demas greets you. " Philemon 24 ~ He simply mentions the name Demas. " II Timothy 4:10 ~ “Demas hath forsaken me.”
It seems that Demas slowly fell in love with the world and out of love with the Lord and the Apostle Paul.
Demas reminds me of a story I read about John and Dave who were hiking when they spotted a mountain lion staring at them. John froze in his tracks, but Dave sat down on a log, tore off his hiking boots, pulled a pair of running shorts from his backpack and hurriedly began to put them on. “For crying out loud, you can’t outrun a mountain lion!” John hissed. “I don’t have to,” shrugged Dave. “I just have to outrun you.”
Demas certainly was not a friend Paul could count on.
There’s a saying about friends that goes, “Friendship ain’t just claspin’ hands and saying, ‘How do you do.’ Friendship grips a feller’s heart and warms him thru and thru!”
What to do: ! Remember, it’s smart to pick your friends, but not to pieces.
FRIENDS LIKE LUKE ! Bible Reading: II Timothy 4:11-22
Key Verse: II Timothy 4:11- “Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.”
Key Words: only Luke is with me
Is that not what a friend is – someone who is with you? Someone said, “Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Walk beside me and just be my friend.” E. C. McKenzie said, “Some people make enemies instead of friends because it is less trouble.” There is a Russian proverb that states, “An old friend is better than two new ones.” “If you really want to know who your friends are, just make a mistake.” ~ The Bible Friend Someone has said, “A friend is a person who goes around saying nice things about you behind your back.” Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The only way to have a friend is to be sure you are one.” There are two kinds of people: Those who brighten the room when they enter and those who brighten the room when they leave. No doubt, to Paul, Luke was one of those people who brightened the room when he came in, and that’s what I desire to do. Don’t you?
What to do: ! Brighten the corner where you are.
THE FRIEND OF GOD
! Bible Reading: James 2:15-26 Key Verse: James 2:23- “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.”
Key Words: and he was called the Friend of God
I guess there’s nothing quite as touching as hearing someone say, “This is my friend.” Hearing those words speaks of love, companionship, closeness, and joy.
I recently went to the bank, one of my grandsons alongside me. (He goes for the suckers.) After tending to our banking affairs, the bank teller looked at my grandson and began a conversation – something he never shies away from. The conversation was about what he liked to do (play with trains), how old he was (three), where he liked to go (McDonald’s – or any place where he can get a cheeseburger and a milkshake). When the conversation was over and we were heading out the door walking hand-in-hand, the teller said, “Do you love your PawPaw?” Turning and looking at the teller, he smiled and said, “He’s my friend.” My heart melted!!
Can you imagine, though, hearing someone say of you, “They are the friend of God,” or even better yet, one day hearing the Lord say, “You are my friend”? Oh, the joy that would flood our souls!
Let me encourage each of you to live like you are the friend of God. It is and will be worth it all when we see Jesus.
What to do: ! Live and act like the friend of God.
THE ANGRY MAN
! Bible Reading: Proverbs 22:17-29 Key Verse: Proverbs 22:24- “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:”
Key Words: Make no friendship with an angry man
The context of the Scripture is clear regarding friendship with an angry man, but verse 25 tells us why we shouldn’t make friends with a person where anger is a way of life for them, “Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.”
The angry man, as a basic rule, makes hasty, bad decisions. (See Cain, Rehoboam, and King Saul, for example.) But on the other hand, calm people, more often than not, make sound decisions. (See David, Jeroboam, and Isaac, for example.)
Reminds me of the following story: “Many years ago a senior executive of the then Standard Oil Company made a wrong decision that cost the company more than $2 million. John D. Rockefeller was then running the firm. On the day the news leaked out most of the executives of the company were finding various ingenius ways of avoiding Mr. Rockefeller, lest his wrath descend on their heads. “There was one exception; however, he was Edward T. Bedford, a partner in the company. Bedford was scheduled to see Rockefeller that day and he kept the appointment, even though he was prepared to listen to a long harangue against the man who made the error in judgment. “When he entered the office the powerful head of the gigantic Standard Oil empire was bent over his desk busily writing with a pencil on a pad of paper. Bedford stood silently, not wishing to interrupt. After a few minutes Rockefeller looked up. “Oh, it’s you, Bedford,” he said calmly. “I suppose you’ve heard about our loss?” Bedford said that he had. “I’ve been thinking it over,” Rockefeller said, “and before I ask the man in to discuss the matter, I’ve been making some notes.”
Bedford later told the story this way: “Across the top of the page was written, ‘Points in favor of Mr. __________.’ There followed a long list of the man’s virtues, including a brief description of how he
had helped the company make the right decision on three separate occasions that had earned many times the cost of his recent error. “I never forgot that lesson. In later years, whenever I was tempted to rip into anyone, I forced myself first to sit down and thoughtfully compile as long a list of good points as I possibly could. Invariably, by the time I finished my inventory, I would see the matter in its true perspective and keep my temper under control. There is no telling how many times this habit has prevented me from committing one of the costliest mistakes any executive can make – losing his temper. “I commend it to anyone who must deal with people.”
What to do: ! Remember, whatever begins in anger ends in shame. Moral: if you befriend an angry person, shame is just around the corner.
HOW TO TREAT “YOUR ENEMY” ! Bible Reading: Ephesians 4:17-32
Key Verse: Ephesians 4:23- “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;” Key Words: And be renewed in the spirit of your mind
There are at least four things to remember when it comes to the treatment of our enemies.
First of all, remember “To do evil for good is human corruption; to do good for good is civil retribution; but to do good for evil is Christian perfection.” ~ William Secker
Secondly, remember “kindness is the ability to treat your enemy decently.” Thirdly, remember your friends will love you in spite of your faults, but your enemies will hate you in spite of your virtues.
Fourth, remember the words of William Law from the year 1728: “If all people, when they feel the first approaches of resentment, envy, or contempt, towards others; or if in all little disagreements and misunderstandings, they should, instead of indulging their minds with low reflections, have recourse, at such times, to a more particular and extraordinary intercession with God, for such
persons as had raised their envy, resentment, or discontent; this would be a certain way to prevent the growth of all uncharitable tempers.”
Pastor’s translation: “Think on God and you won’t get mad.” Amen and amen!! What to do: ! Remember, it’s never right to do wrong!
FRIENDLINESS AND PEOPLE ! Bible Reading: Acts 2:37-47
Key Verse: Acts 2:47- “Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
Key Words: having favour with all the people
We must remember that as Christians, we are in the people business; and thus we should always be friendly.
In the 1950s, marketing whiz Stanley Arnold was working at Young & Rubicam, where he was asked to come up with a marketing campaign for Remington Rand. The company was among the most conservative in America. Its chairman at the time Let us never was retired General Douglas MacArthur. Although intimidated at first by a company that was so much a “part forget… of America,” Arnold also found in that phrase the first inspiration for a campaign. After thinking about it, he went to the New York offices of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Beane, and placed the ultimate odd-lot order: “I want to purchase,” he told the broker, “one share of every single stock listed on the New York Stock Exchange.” After a vice president tried to talk him out of it, the order was finally placed. It came to more than $42,000 for one share in each of the 1098 companies listed on the Big Board at the time. Arnold now took his diversified portfolio into a meeting of Remington Rand’s board of directors, where he argued passionately for a sweepstakes campaign with the top prize called A Share in America. The conservative old gentlemen shifted around in their seats and discussed the idea for a while. “But Mr. Arnold,” said one, “we are not in the securities business.” Said another, “We are in the shaver business.”
“I agree that you are not in the securities business,” said Arnold, “but I think you also ought to realize that you are not in the shaver business either. You are in the people business.” The company bought the idea.
… we are in the people business.
Let us never forget we are in the people business. So be friendly. What to do: ! Never forget God’s business is “people” and friendliness never hurts.
TO FEEL NEEDED ! Bible Reading: Ecclesiastes 4
Key Verses: Ecclesiastes 4:8,10, and 11- “8 There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?”
Key Word: alone
The first thing that God declared as not good was loneliness. Genesis 2:18a, “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone.” Everyone needs a friend because a friend is someone who makes you feel needed. A rancher’s wife was rushed to the hospital with a ruptured appendix. Despite a successful operation and numerous transfusions, she grew steadily worse. The doctor challenged her, “I thought you would try to be strong like John, your husband.” “But John is so strong, he doesn’t need me,” she confessed. And it was true that John was a strong, self-sufficient individual who seldom expressed his feelings. That night the doctor told John he didn’t think his wife wanted to live. But they would try one more transfusion, direct from John to his wife’s veins. As he lay beside her for the transfusion he said, “I’m going to make you well.” “Why?” she asked.
“Because I need you,” John answered.
Turning her head slowly she said, “You never told me that before.” She lived. Later the doctor wrote, “It wasn’t the transfusion but what went with it.”
Loneliness kills. It kills emotionally, mentally, spiritually. So for all of us who are lonely, remember Jesus is the greatest of all friends; and for those who know someone who is lonely, be a friend!
What to do: ! Be different. Adopt someone who is lonely to be your friend.
THE REBUKE OF A FRIEND
! Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 13:12-18 Key Verse: Deuteronomy 13:14- “Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you;”
Key Words: Then shalt thou enquire
We read in Proverbs 27:5, “Open rebuke is better than secret love.” A friend is someone who can and will correct us when we are wrong.
The following story is taken from The Watchman Examiner: “Dr. McLean tells how he was rebuked and humbled on a certain occasion when he repeated a grave matter he had heard to a friend. His friend opened his Bible to Deuteronomy 13:12 and 14 and read: “If thou shalt hear say...then shalt thou inquire, and make search, and ask diligently, and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you....” “Then his friend turned quietly to him and asked: ‘Have you, dear brother, inquired? Have you made search? Did you ask diligently? Did you try and find out if the story is true? And the thing certain? Is it certain that such abomination is wrought among you?’ “Dr. McLean says he could only acknowledge regretfully that he had not fulfilled one of the six conditions and was repeating the tale from hearsay without making the slightest attempt to act thereon in a Scriptural way.”
While many would not see Dr. McLean’s friend as a friend, the Bible clearly identifies him as one. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Proverbs 27:6a.
What to do: ! Remember, a friend has two great qualities. First, they are truthful. Secondly, they are tactful.
JUST BEING YOURSELF ! Bible Reading: Psalm 65
Key Verse: Psalm 65:8- “They also that dwell in the uttermost parts are afraid at thy tokens: thou makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice.”
Key Words: thou makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice
I realize this verse is referring to God, and there is no friend like God; but there are those in our lives who, when we see them, we rejoice. They are a blessing, not because of what they say or do, they are a blessing because of who they are. An anonymous writer has given us this beautiful tribute of love, which might equally apply to family love or to friendship: “I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for passing over all the foolish, weak things that you can’t help dimly seeing in my heart, and for drawing out into the light all the beautiful belongings that no one else had looked quite far enough to find. I love you because you are helping me to make of the lumber of my life, not a tavern but a temple and out of the works of my every day, not a reproach but a song. I love you because you have done more than any creed could have done to make me happy. You have done it without a touch, without a word, without a song. You have done it by just being yourself.” What a blessing! What a friend! What to do: ! Be a blessing, not a burden.
! Bible Reading: John 11:1-36 Key Verse: John 11:35- “Jesus wept.” Key Words: Jesus wept
If your best friend received good news and immediately broke out in an ear-toear grin, you would hardly say to him, “Now Fred, bear up. Get hold of yourself. Act like a man. Control your emotions. Stop laughing. Eventually, you will recover from the shock of this good news.”
Yet isn’t that exactly what we say when a friend faces the opposite emotion of sorrow? “Now Fred, bear up. Get hold of yourself. Don’t cry. Control your emotions. Everything’s going to be all right.”
Yet it is just as normal to cry when one is sad as to laugh when one is happy. And we do a disservice to a friend or loved one when we encourage him to bottle up his sorrow. Tears are the gift of God that help to dissolve the bitterness of our grief. And if a person is not permitted to cry normally when he is grief-stricken, his sorrow may break out in some abnormal way months or years to come.
That is why Jesus said, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). There is no comfort for those who hide their sorrow. Only those who express grief can find relief from their grief. Ignore sorrow, and it stays around forever. Embrace it, and eventually it leaves. Tears irrigate the soil of human sorrow. Tears turn troubles into trellises along which the vines of faith climb to the sunshine of God’s healing power.
At the grave of Lazarus, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). In this gesture, he showed his humanity. He demonstrated that even the divine Son of God is touched by sorrow. By His example, He taught that it is all right for us to weep also. Only those who are unafraid to weep over losses have courage to rebuild their broken dreams.
What to do: ! Remember, a friend is someone who rejoices with those that rejoice, and weeps with those that weep.
! Bible Reading: Ephesians 5 Key Verse: Ephesians 5:33- “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”
Key Words: Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband
If a marriage is to be successful then your spouse must be your best friend. You must be willing to love them in spite of their “weaknesses.”
Young people often come to the marriage altar with a fairy-tale idealism. That is, they believe that once a person falls in love, he lives happily ever after! But unfortunately, there is no money-back guarantee in marriage. There is no proof of a happy ending. Marriages may be made in heaven, but they must be lived on earth.
A marriage license is something like a fishing license. It doesn’t guarantee success; it just legalizes the try! Happiness is more likely when a bride and groom ask, “What can I give in this marriage?” rather than “What can I get from this marriage?”
An engaged couple was nearing their wedding day. The young man had a disfiguring scar from a childhood injury. Neither had mentioned the blemish. Thinking something should be said before they were married, he found the courage to ask his girlfriend how she felt about it. She gave no answer, but simply reached over and kissed the scar. It was her way of saying that she accepted him as he was, and that together they would build on life as it was, rather than life as it might be.
What to do: ! As mates, you must be friends. Remember, you’re not perfect either.
THE GREATEST FRIEND
! Bible Reading: Matthew 11:1-19 Key Verse: Matthew 11:19- “The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.”
Key Words: a friend of publicans and sinners
We read in Proverbs 18:24, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Have you ever considered why Jesus would be the greatest Friend? The question can have several answers, but one answer would be that He deprived pride from having a place in His life. The life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ are a standing rebuke to every form of pride to which men are liable. Pride of birth and rank. “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” Pride of wealth. “The Son of Man hath not where to lay his head.” Pride of respectability. “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Pride of personal appearance. “He hath no form nor comeliness.” Pride of reputation. “A friend of publicans and sinners!” Pride of learning. “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned.” Pride of superiority. “I am among you as he that serveth.” Pride of success. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” “Neither did his brethren believe on him.” “He was despised and rejected of men.” Pride of ability. “I can of mine own self do nothing.” Pride of self-will. “I seek not mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” Pride of intellect. “As my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.” Pride in death. “He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Don’t let pride get a hold of your life. It will destroy you and separate you from your friends. What to do: ! Live as though Jesus is your Best Friend; and then He will be.
I deeply appreciate the help of Laurie Blankenship Trisha Bookout Kathy Endicott Cathy Fortenberry Sandy Lancaster Cathy Lang Pam Lee Marie Moore Mary Parsons John and Tascha Piatt Reba Pontbriand And my lovely wife, Linda
Without God using these people to help this devotional would not have been possible.
Dr. Mike Rouse