One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)
I am so thankful for friends! God has blessed my life with some pretty amazing people, and to be quite honest, I cannot imagine where I would be without my fellow sojourners! We are all on a journey, and God has been so gracious to provide kindred spirits, brothers and sisters, who travel with us.
The apostle Paul was blessed with some pretty amazing friends himself. We heard about them in the Habits of Happiness sermon this past Sunday. Timothy and Epaphroditus were personally endorsed by Paul as role models, and we can clearly see some admirable qualities in them. They cared about others and were willing and available to serve. They were trustworthy and genuine. Both were considerate of the needs of others. They were cooperative “team players”, so to speak. They took their calling and responsibilities as apostles, “sent ones”, very seriously. They had counted the cost. Both lived for something worth dying for. They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11)
The character traits seen in these two friends of Paul remind me a lot of my friend who sticks closer than a brother… Jesus! Timothy and Epaphroditus, like Paul… like Jesus, were poured-out servants, fully surrendered to the Gospel.
And we, too, as Christ followers, can be this kind of friend. Actually, as we live completely surrendered to the life of Jesus in and through us, we won’t be able to help but be this kind of friend. His life, in us, will be what people encounter. Countless times I have experienced Jesus through the lives of my friends!
What kind of friend are you? Are you willing to serve others like Jesus served, doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility do you consider others better than yourself? “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Are you trustworthy and genuine? Are you living for something… Someone… worth dying for? Only as we lay down our lives for others can Christ’s life be manifested in us. Timothy and Epaphroditus were willing to lay their lives down, and Jesus did lay His life down! He shed His blood on the cross, paying the price for our sin, so that by believing in Him we receive the gift of salvation and eternal life. His death bought our life! Jesus paid it all and all to Him I owe!
Consider His words to His disciples regarding their relationship to each other.
“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. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” ~Jesus in John 15:12-17
Jesus has chosen me and you! He calls us His “friend”! He invites us to abide in Him and participate in bearing fruit – fruit that will last! How exciting is that!?
What a friend we have in Jesus! All our sins and griefs to bear. And what a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer! (Sorry… sometimes I just can’t help but to burst into song!)