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Friends:  How are good ones made? 

Gary Googe Jan 01

I think most people would think of family for this.  They would say family members are closest.  But is this what Jesus taught? Look carefully at His words.

Matthew 12:46-50

46 While he [Jesus] yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren [ADELPHOI = ones of the same womb] stood without, desiring to speak with him.

47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.

48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?

49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. [Emphasis added]

This by no means minimizes the importance of family relationships, but it emphasizes the importance and the superiority of spiritual family relationships.  Certainly, our most important relationship is with God, our Savior Jesus Christ.  But fellow believers who love our Savior occupy a position greater than the other people we know.  For one thing, with them we have an everlasting relationship.  Yes, we’ll still have one with them when we’re in Heaven.  That’s not the case with most people we’ve met in this life.  Apart from salvation, they won’t even be in Heaven.  We’ll be separated from them forever.  Remember the words of our Lord about this concerning the man Lazarus and the rich man.

Luke 16:22-26

22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. [Emphasis added]

One thing I’ve found in life is that if you want friends, you must work to be a friend. Those who’ve made some contribution to your life are the ones you’re drawn to for friendship. Others remain as acquaintances and only potential friends.

Deep friendship requires intimacy in the relationship.  There’s nothing in all of life that can create that like spiritual truths you have in common with certain people.  We are foolish if we let other relationships have priority over the development of these.  However, such people will be few and far between.  Truly spiritually mature people are extremely rare.  That’s why you should treat them as treasure when you find them.  This is why the great apostle Paul had so few friends.  Even today Paul is not treasured by most churchgoers.  During his lifetime, most people deserted him.  This was true even after his many years of quality service in ministry to so many.

1 Timothy 1:19-20

19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put awayconcerning faith have made shipwreck [they had become spiritual casualties]:

20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. [Emphasis added]

These men were apparently at one time companions and close friends to the apostle Paul.  But it was their rejection of the authority of God’s word over their lives that eventually separated them.

2 Timothy 2:16-18

16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

17 And their word will eat as doth a canker [GANGRAINA =  corruption (where we get the word gangrene)]: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;

18 Who concerning the truth have erred [ASTOCHEO = swerved], saying that the resurrection [speaking of the Rapture] is past already; and overthrow the faith [PISTIS = beliefs] of some. [Emphasis added]

Again, this great man, the apostle Paul, died with few friends.  Nevertheless, he died a wealthy man, having some true friends who loved our Lord like he did.  So many rejected Paul’s teaching just as they do today.  Even so many churchgoers today pay little attention to it.

Friendship demands love for one another and love for the same things.  The apostle Peter spoke of this.

1 Peter 1:22-23

22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned [ANUPOKRITOS = non hypocritical or genuine] love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. [Emphasis added]

It is being regenerate [or born again] and fully influenced by the word of God that produces in us the capacity for such love.

If you’re married, ideally your mate should be the best friend you’ll ever have.  A wife, of course, needs to be the object of her husband’s ongoing love.

Ephesians 5:1-3

1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness [all being enemies of true love], let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; [Emphasis added]

Later in the chapter Paul tells us we’re to have this love for our wives.

Ephesians 5:25

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; [Emphasis added]

What a high standard has been set! We all need to work at following it.  This love demands the ongoing initiation of expressions of love! It first represents a mental attitude. When that attitude is present it will spontaneously manifest itself in many wonderful ways. Paul gives us a full description of this love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

4 Charity [AGAPE = love] suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. [Emphasis added]

The expression of such love provides the greatest possibility for a positive response and resultant friendship.  Through our familiarity with God’s love for us through our study of His word we’re positioned to imitate His love toward others, including love for one’s spouse. That end is also spoken of in Scripture as love, but another Greek word is used for it.  It is called PHILOS love which is a rapport or friendship kind of love.  This is the “building material” for a harmonious relationship.  It also creates an ongoing bond in people creating true friendship.

We find in Scripture that the second great commandment is to treat others as you would have them treat you.  Such is certainly the way great friendships are developed.

Luke 6:31

31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. [Emphasis added]

A higher form of this is to love others as God has loved us.  But of course, to do this one must become familiar with the way God has loved us. That demands some consistent study of God’s word in one’s Bible. Such love is not built overnight.  It takes time in development.  The Bible speaks of this when it mentions people becoming friends with God.  Notice the comment James makes about this when speaking of Abraham.

James 2:23

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. [Emphasis added]

Could God speak of you as His friend? Do you have a truly close relationship with Him through your knowledge and your love for His word? Again, such an intimate relationship isn’t built overnight.

My wife and I have been married for over fifty years.  The love we have for one another has taken many years to develop.  At the heart of it is our knowledge of one another.  If you were to ask me about her likes or dislikes about nearly anything, I could answer you correctly.  She could do the same with me.  But that knowledge didn’t come instantly.  It has required years to develop.  We have spent many hours together talking about all kinds of things.  It is in this manner that we’ve come to know each other so well.  It is much the same in our relationship with God, our Savior. We speak to Him in prayer, but He speaks, and He reveals Himself to us through the Bible.  And what He has to say to us is far more important than anything we’ve ever had to say to Him.  That’s why our study of the Bible far outweighs the importance of the time we spend in prayer.

A person who makes friends with God will have no difficulty in having the capacity for being a good friend to people.  However, few will ever have that capacity to be a friend to Him because of their limited knowledge of Him.  They’ve chosen to spend so little time in the study of His Word and getting to know Him.  This is at the heart of why we have commands like this one Peter sets forth.

2 Peter 3:18

18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. [Emphasis added] 

We are told that God spoke to Moses as one would speak to a friend. They clearly had an intimate relationship.

Exodus 33:11-12 

11 And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.

12 And Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. [Emphasis added]

Truly one of the greatest friendships recorded in the Bible is the one that existed between David and Jonathan, King Saul’s oldest son.

1 Samuel 18:1

1 And it came to pass, when he [David] had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. [Emphasis added]

It appears that this friendship developed quickly.  Jonathan saw David’s God- derived thinking and was immediately drawn by it.  Their relationship was built upon their mutual love for our Lord.  This always makes for the best in personal relationships.

To die with a few truly good friends is to die wealthy.  In times of suffering and grief, these friends can bring comfort and encouragement.

Job 2:11

11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.

However, in this case, they had no way of knowing what God was doing in this special situation.  Explaining this would be another whole article for another day.  Nevertheless, the intentions of these men appear to have been good.  What should be obvious is that Job had somehow merited the favor of these men causing them to think of themselves as his friends.


Friends are earned. You will normally gain true friends by how you treat people.  As you treat people in the manner in which you wish to be treated, you will tend to make friends.  Wealthy people often foolishly believe they have many friends, but it is usually because the collection of people that gather around them only want something from them.  This is why wealthy people are among the loneliest you’ll ever know.  They live a life wondering if those around them only want something.  They usually never know who their true friends are, even if they have some.

Proverbs 14:20

20 The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends. [Emphasis added]

The kind of “friends” spoken of here only wants to profit from those with whom they have a relationship.  There’s a sense in which they always have their hand out.  Because they want something they only pretend to be friends.  True friends love the person, not just the temporal things they believe they can gain by having a “friendship” with them.

The best true friends you’ll ever have are those you impact spiritually.  This occurs in giving people the gospel message and information by which they can grow spiritually.  The people who do this are like rare gems.  They are priceless! And they have the capacity to become the best of friends.  But spiritually bankrupt people don’t have the capacity to be good friends.  And as long as they’re only interested in temporal things, that will never change.  So, draw close to those who truly love God’s word because, if they’re not already, they are the ones who may become your true and best friends.

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