Choosing a friend
VINCENT YEOH [SINGAPORE]
“LIFE is to be fortified by many
friendships. To love, and be loved, is the greatest happiness of existence,”
says Sidney Smith. “It is not good for man to be alone,” declares the Lord God.
Man was not created to be a forlorn animal. Man needs other men. Friends add
vivacity to life. However the Bible warns:
“There are friends who pretend to be friends,
but there is a friend who stick closer than a brother” (Prov
Therefore the Bible admonishes:
“A righteous man turns away from evil, but the
way of the wicked leads them astray” (Prov 12:26).
And in the pages of the Bible, God
has left us with some pointers as to how we should choose our friends.
He who can have God as bond
Friendship maybe forged by circumstances
but, as quickly as it began, it maybe lost by circumstances. What happened to
all our school chums after we left school? What happened to all our bridge
partners after we lost interest in the game? Friends are made when we are
thrown together in some common activities or necessities.
And the bond of friendships is as
enduring and true as our interest in such activities or our reliance on such
necessities. It cannot be otherwise because transience is the essence of human
conditions. On the other hand, if God be the bond of your friendship, the
beauty and endurance of true love emerge. In 1 Samuel 18:1; 20:17, the Bible
records that Jonathan loved David as his own life. Their friendship survived
severe opposition. They were able to be the best of friends although Jonathan’s
father, King Saul, sought to kill David. Why? 1 Samuel 20:42 provides the key
to understanding the strength of their friendship:
“And Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in safety,
inasmuch as we have sworn to each other in the name of the Lord saying, The
Lord will be between me and you, and between my
descendants and your descendants forever.’”
They had God as their bond.
Christians should choose friends who can have God as their bond. The truest of
friends walk together in the path of God — keeping the doctrines and the laws
of God together. “Do two walk together, unless they have made an appointment?”
asked the Prophet Amos (Amos 3:3). If you cannot agree with your friend as to
the purpose of life, how can he be your best friend to walk together with you?
Your life’s aims is to serve God, his is to enjoy himself in worldly pursuits.
There is no common destiny. Your mission is to preach the fill gospel of
salvation to all nations, his is to confuse the lost
with the deadly partial truth that one can be saved by merely believing in
Christ. The paths are different. Therefore, if you are looking for a true
friend, look for one who not only believes in God but who will also walk
together with you according to the words of God. In that way, God can be your
bond. And you will be able to join the Psalmist in declaring:
“I am a companion of all who fear thee, of those
who keep thy precepts” (Psalms 119:63).
He who stays in time of troubles
Proverbs 19:4 says, “Wealth brings
many new friends, but a poor man is deserted by his friend.” A man in a
position of power and who is able to give what others want will have many
people flocking to him and claiming to be his friends. But the best test of
friendship is adversity. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times.”
Your true friend will be someone who is by your side in times of trouble.
He who is not bad company
“My son, if
sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, “Come with us, let us
lie in wait for blood, let us wantonly ambush the innocent; like Sheol let us swallow them alive and whole, like those who
go down to the Pit, we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses
with spoil; throw in your lot among us, we will all have one purse” —my son, do
not walk in the way with them, hold back your foot from their paths.” (Prov 1:10-15) Paul in a similar vein says, “Do not be
deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corin
15:33). Avoid the company of so-called friends who walk the path of sin. For
this reason, the Bible tells us to avoid drinkers (Prov
23:20-21) and hot tempered men (Prov 22:24-25).
He who is willing to counsel
The mark of a good friend is his
willingness to counsel. Nobody enjoys criticisms and therefore it takes a
really dose friend to assume the task of pointing out your faults. It is easy,
and very pleasant, to praise because we win favour by
so doing. But we keep friends by giving sincere counsel. Proverbs 27:6 says,
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”
And in verse 9 it says, “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, but the soul is
torn by trouble.” Do not take offence therefore the next time your friend
points out your mistake. He is merely being true to you. The “wounds of a
friend” ought to be appreciated and welcomed rather than shunned.