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Bible verses about Friendship
(From Forerunner Commentary)

God Almighty has set in motion the laws that bond one person to another and groups of people to each other. He invented friendship and has set into motion laws that sustain it.

The God of the Old Testament, who later became Christ, actually formed several friendships with human beings. The Bible refers to David as a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22; I Samuel 13:14). Abraham is called the "friend of God" several times:

» And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God. (James 2:23)

» But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham, My friend. (Isaiah 41:8)

» Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? (II Chronicles 20:7)

David F. Maas
Godly Friendship: A Priceless Commodity


 

Here is a recap of the essential characteristics of a Christian friendship:

1. It places God first, the middle strand in a threefold cord (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

2. It follows the principles or laws of bonding (interest in the same things), which include at the forefront a love for godly principles.

3. It involves a give-and-take communication involving advice, criticism, and encouragement.

4. It involves a climate in which the most sensitive of confidences can be exchanged without fear of betrayal.

5. It consists of an unbreakable bond that lasts through good and bad times.

A minister once taught, "A friend is someone, who, if you make a colossal botch of something, doesn't think you've made a permanent job of it." God is such a friend. Let us try to emulate Him.

David F. Maas
Godly Friendship: A Priceless Commodity


 

Proverbs 13:20

We are admonished to bond with people who will encourage our better behaviors and characteristics. We eventually take on the characteristics of the people with whom we bond. We find numerous biblical cautions on this principle or law of bonding:

» Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? (Amos 3:3)

» He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed. (Proverbs 13:20)

» Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul. (Proverbs 22:24-25)

The world's psychology claims that friendship is enhanced by communication. Godly psychology stresses communication but with a slightly different emphasis. Encounter groups (products of well-meaning but misguided psychological principle) encourage, "Let it all hang out—give vent to your pent up feelings." One psychologist suggests that, if one genuinely feels like saying, "I hate you! I hate you!" he should just say it, if it is an honest feeling. However, consider God's instruction: "A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back" (Proverbs 29:11).

God's psychology insists that friends build up instead of tear down. The Scripture gives ample instructions for godly communication between friends: "Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful" (Proverbs 27:5-6).

A friend ought to be able both to offer and receive encouragement and loving criticism. As we in our local memberships now number in the teens rather than the hundreds, our faults become more transparent to one another. We need to come to appreciate both the encouragement and the candid criticism from our friends, as well as their kindness and generosity.

A friend should never commiserate with or encourage his friend's bitter attitude or rebellion against any of God's laws, statutes, or principles but should encourage him to change course:

» Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man's friend does so by hearty counsel. [A true friend both gives and accepts good counsel.] (Proverbs 27:9)

» As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. (Proverbs 27:17)

Godly communication between friends involves sharing common interests, giving and accepting advice, giving and accepting criticism, and giving and accepting encouragement. A healthy relationship requires both giving and receiving, with the primary emphasis on the way of give.

David F. Maas
Godly Friendship: A Priceless Commodity


 

Proverbs 18:24

Proverbs 18:24 is a mild caution against having too many friends, of spreading oneself too thin. It is better to have truly good friends who will stick with us through thick and thin. Understood within the context of these four verses is a warning that, if one has too many interests as a result of having too many friends, the one true friendship we can develop with Christ—who really will stick with us through thick and thin—will probably be the one pushed aside. It is better to be loyal to one true friend who is faithful at all times than numerous unreliable ones.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Four): Obligation


 

Proverbs 27:10

Proverbs 27:10 directly confronts the subject of obligation and loyalty in human experience. The first clause is simply a Hebraic way of saying, "Don't desert tried and true friends." An available friend is better than an unavailable relative. The second and third clauses reinforce the first. Be loyal to and rely upon help that is near, tried, and true.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Four): Obligation


 

Ecclesiastes 4:4-7

The major reason for hard work among men is rivalry, competition. Someone is trying to outdo somebody else, and success breeds envy in neighbors. So a person engages in hard work to outclass somebody else.

Solomon, however, reaches the conclusion that rivalry does not produce lasting companionship. What do rivalry and competition produce? Enemies. He then concludes that contentment is two times better than the futility of pursuing after gain, that is, keeping up with the Joneses is a futile thing for a person to do.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 2)


 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

The last portion of the passage refers to a threefold cord. If one individual and another individual make a twofold cord, the threefold cord must have an additional element that we can infer to be God Almighty. If God is not placed first in every liaison that we human beings make (marriage, friendship, or church fellowship) the relationship will be short lived.

Consider these scriptural warnings:

» Though they join forces, the wicked will not go unpunished; but the posterity of the righteous will be delivered. (Proverbs 11:21)

» Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; though they join forces, none will go unpunished. (Proverbs 16:5)

Any alliance or friendship not based upon God's laws and principles will not succeed. We are warned to stay away from any such bond:

If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, "Let us go and serve other gods," which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, . . . you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him. . . . (Deuteronomy 13:6, 8)

Close or intimate friends should have an intense love for God's law. Any alliance made between two people that explicitly or implicitly subverts God's laws is destined to be destroyed.

God set in motion those immutable laws that bind one person to another. There are laws of attraction that bring human beings with similar traits together. Cliques also adhere or cohere on this principle.

Some studies in human behavior suggest that people bond with one another because they see aspects of their own personalities in others (sometimes good, such as a common love for music or literature, and sometimes bad, such as a proclivity to be a clutter-bug or indecisive). The recognition of a parallel trait in someone else causes us to feel protective toward that person.

For instance, some social analysts have speculated that the reason the United States Senate did not carry out the House of Representatives recommendations to expel President Bill Clinton from office was a timidity rising from their own parallel sins and iniquities. As the wife of a prominent radio commentator has suggested, "Bill Clinton makes us comfortable with our own sins."

David F. Maas
Godly Friendship: A Priceless Commodity


 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Companionship has the benefit of producing strength. In unity, there is strength. In these proverbs given in verses 9-12, he means not only, for example, is there help in companionship for somebody who literally falls in a ditch (verse 10), but also, if somebody makes a mistake, a companion can cover it and maybe help him out so that the error does not hurt him so badly. Companionship gives strength because a companion can offer so much help.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 2)


 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

A Jewish proverb says, “A friendless man is like a left hand bereft of the right.” Consider how much having only one hand hinders productivity. When both hands are available, much more can be accomplished and every activity is easier. How much greater is the production of two people doing a task than if the labor is restricted to only one? Even when the two divide the profits, each receives a better return for his efforts than if each had worked alone.

The instruction moves on to contemplating that, if there is trouble along the way, two are more likely to come up with a solution than one working alone. If a person is working alone and falls, no one else is around to help him.

What happens when we stumble during our spiritual walk? Is it not good to have a friend off whom we can bounce things and from whom we can receive correction and encouragement in love? Galatians 6:1-2 addresses this issue: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Ecclesiastes 4:11-12 seem to be calling to mind traveling by foot in ancient Israel where it might be cold during the winter months and perhaps dangerous to life and limb because of attacks by robbers. There is greater productivity, warmth, and security in numbers. II Samuel 21:15-17 recounts a time a younger man came to King David's aid when he was in need:

When the Philistines were at war again with Israel, David and his servants with him went down and fought against the Philistines; and David grew faint. Then Ishbi-Benob, who was one of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose bronze spear was three hundred shekels, who was bearing a new sword, thought he could kill David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid, and struck the Philistine and killed him. Then the men of David swore to him, saying, “You shall go out no more with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel.”

Ecclesiastes 4:12 provides us with an example of a peculiarity of Hebrew writing that is seen in a number of places in the Old Testament. This literary device makes comparisons by using the term “better.” He first uses “better” in verse 3, then again in verse 6, and finally in verse 9 as he reaches the section's conclusion. His overall point seems to be that in most cases more is better than less: One cord may be easily broken; two would require greater strength; but three would be very difficult to break. One traveler might invite danger; two would add to both travelers' safety; but three travelers would fare even better.

What he has in mind is the matter of how unity adds to productivity, how safety is greatly increased, and how partnership with real friendship and thus greater unity makes an activity more immune to failure. Think of this as it applies to families. One person does not even qualify as a family. A husband and wife working in harmony can add immensely to each spouse's quality of life, and if Jesus Christ is the third Person in that group, the strength He contributes is immeasurably positive. Interestingly, families with many children seldom break up.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Five): Comparisons


 

Ecclesiastes 12:3-5

Solomon employs interesting metaphors in this passage. The "keepers of the house" in verse 3 are a person's arms. We work with our hands and arms, and they keep the house. In time, they begin to tremble—he is referring to the progression of old age.

"The strong men bow down"—the legs, the knees, begin to get weary, to bow from the weight of the body on top of them.

"When the grinders cease"—a person's teeth—"because they are few"—they are falling out. "And those that look through the windows"—are the eyes, which are growing dim.

"When the doors are shut"—when the older person tends to stay inside because he feels more comfortable and safe being closed up in the house. He does not worry about having a heart attack out on the street. Many older people become reclusive as they age.

"And the sound of grinding is low"—he refers to work cycles, using the grinding of grain as a representation of work in general. Apparently, in those days, the whole community ground grain together. The town would have one mill, and everyone would come and have a lot of fun, laughing and enjoying the friendship, companionship, and fellowship with others at the mill. But as a person gets old, he does not have the strength to go to the mill and enjoy the pleasures of that work.

"When the almond tree blossoms"—it turns white. Solomon is talking about the hair turning gray and then white.

"And the grasshopper is a burden" is an interesting picture. Everybody knows how light a grasshopper is, but even the lightest thing becomes a burden to an older person because he is losing his strength.

"For man goes to his eternal home"—the grave—"and the mourners go about the streets." Death is seen as the climax of a process that began with birth and the strength of youth.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 2)


 

John 11:1

Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus. The text indicates that His love for them was more than a passing friendship but something far closer. The scriptures suggest that when Jesus traveled to Jerusalem, He stayed at their home. He slept in their house, ate meals with them, and undoubtedly conversed with them a great deal.

Consider their being that close to Him, spending long hours talking with Him, sharing their lives with Him. They had a closeness that other people (other than the apostles) did not have. They really knew and trusted Him. They relied on Him in a way that few people could.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith and Prayer


 

John 11:3-5

His relationship with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus was different from the relationship He had with other people. Why? One reason is, as we find in other places, He stayed with this family when He was near Jerusalem. He had undoubtedly eaten quite a number of meals at their home, and they had had ample time to talk about the plan of God, as well as their hopes and dreams, problems, trials, and difficulties. Jesus likely counseled them in these matters. As a result of this fellowship, within this family atmosphere, grew an intimacy of thinking that He did not have with many others. The Bible does not say all that often that He loved somebody the way He loved these.

Trust in a historical fact can be essentially passive, but so what? It might not be a vital part of life. However, a Christian cannot have the kind of conviction needed unless he recognizes that he is fellowshipping with a very wonderful, living, dynamic, and gracious Personality. When we pray to Him, He wants us to think about that relationship, about Him, His power, His willingness, His purpose, and everything connected with Him in His relationship with us.

Trust in a Personality energizes the quality of the prayer. In this case, it infuses the trust with a firsthand knowledge of the Being to whom we are appealing. Prayer's most important fruit may well be the understanding gained of this Personality: what He is and what He does.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prayer and Fervency


 

John 15:13-14

We like to think of ourselves as rising to the occasion when a time of great crisis arises. We all hope to emulate what the heroes of faith did. But as great as they were, Jesus says here, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you." It is very easy to think of the sacrifice implied in "lay[ing] down one's life" as dying for another in one moment of time. Though that may occasionally occur, the context shows this sacrifice within the framework of friendship. Friendship occurs over months and years, not just in one moment in time.

In true friendships, because we are eager to help, we willingly spend ourselves ungrudgingly, without tallying the cost. Friends open their hearts and minds to each other without secrecy, which one would not do for a mere acquaintance. True friends allow the other to see right in and know them as they really are. Friends share what they have learned. Finally, and most importantly for this article, a friend trusts the one who believes in him, and risks that the other will never doubt his loyalty but look upon him with proven confidence.

Though the principle given by Christ is applicable to all friendships, He has one specific friendship as His primary focus: ours with Him, or more generally, ours with God. Proverbs 18:24 says, "A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." That friend is Jesus of Nazareth, but He made it very clear that if we are His friends, we will show it in our obedience to His commands. But before we can obey, we must trust Him.

Take a moment to evaluate yourself. Are you as open and frank with Him as He is with us through His Word? Often our prayers are stiff and formal, not truly honest. Besides that, sometimes we become bored in His presence and soon have nothing to say to Him. Is it not true that we do not trust Him as fully as we should? That we are often quick to doubt Him? That we easily grow suspicious of Him? That we lose heart or fear that He has forgotten us? That He is not really trying or is unequal to the task of shepherding us into His Kingdom? Though He has never failed us, we are so quick to suspect and blame Him!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Wandering the Wilderness in Faith


 

1 Corinthians 15:33

Paul is talking about those people with whom we associate or fellowship. We tend to take on the character of the group with which we associate. If we associate with people of bad character, they will succeed in pulling us down to their level.

It is not likely that we will succeed in pulling them up. It is much easier to go down than to go up, especially if those with whom you keep company have no reason to go up, being comfortable with the level at which they are at the time.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is Prayer?


 

Ephesians 2:1-3

From the time we were born, Satan began to inject us with his mind, thoughts, ways, attitudes, and purposes, so by the time that God gets to us—but in God's good time He calls us and begins to convert us—we are in union with Satan. All our lives, he has been broadcasting, and we are in agreement with him. This is what has to be overcome.

Satan is with us always. But we have to understand that nobody, not even God, can take away our right of choice of whom we want to be in union with. When God begins to convert us, He makes us well aware that we have a choice and that we can resist and determine who we want to be united with—God or Satan—just as we can determine in our own lives who we want to be friends with.

We can choose our friends. We can choose, then, the kind of relationships we have with them. We can walk away from them, if they are pulling us down—away from union with God.

Unfortunately, that has to be done sometimes so that we be in union, at one with, the Father. We hope that does not happen very often. Parents know that at times they have tell their children, "We don't want you to hang out with him or her." Why? Because they know that that other kid will pull their children down, so they do not want them in union with him. It is a simple principle.

God has put us into the position where we have the opportunity to use our time and energy to make the choice of whether we will be in union with Him. He leaves the choice to us. It is a tremendous thing that He does this because it produces wonderful effects.

So we are juxtaposed between, on the one hand, God, and on the other hand, Satan. But we are free from Satan because we have the choice of whom we want to be in union with.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 4)


 

Find more Bible verses about Friendship:
Friendship {Nave's}
 




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