“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)
Who would not want to have a friend? Sometimes after a person dies, he is eulogized with the statement that that he didn’t have an enemy in the world. Truthfully, for my own part I would not want that. I hope I am an enemy of those who hate God, despise the cross of Christ, and show spite towards His people and His gospel. If I am to be a friend of that which is good, I must be the enemy of that which is evil.
On the other hand, what a sad thing it is when it is said of someone, “They do not have friend in the world”. That is truly sad and worthy of our sympathy. You can be without any earthly friends and still not be friendless for “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother”. What a Friend He is! He is described so well in that well known hymn, What a Friend We Have in Jesus. One line says,
Can we find a friend so faithful Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness – Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Isn’t that something worth singing about? To have a Friend who knows your every weakness, yet still loves you at all times and is never closer than when you are in adversity. Christ is not to be compared to this world’s friends. He is incomparable in all His attributes. Solomon attempted to describe the loveliness of the Lord in Song of Solomon chapter 5. And at the end he says of Him, “yea He is altogether lovely. This is my beloved and this is my friend. (v.16).
So how do we contrast this world’s friends to the Great Friend, Jesus Christ?
1. Sometimes of course our friends are not really our friends. They are friends in name, but not in reality.
But Jesus is not a Friend only in name, but a Friend in truth. He will be all that a Friend ought to be and change not.
Sometimes circumstances and situations reveal to us that people we thought were our friends, turned out to be anything but. Something happens and we find out their true feelings on some matters, the end result being we find out what they really think, and it proves that a friend in name is not always a friend in reality.
Has this ever happened to you? Maybe not in a dramatic fashion, but somehow you have found that a friend you had trusted, counted on and even confided in turned out to be quite different than what you had thought or hoped was the case.
Such is not the case with our Lord. He is a faithful Friend. He is ever faithful, ever true. And He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He will not be your Friend in fair times and turn away from you when you need Him most; He will not be your Friend in the fair sunshine of life and desert you when you come to the valley of the shadow death. And while you may often change in your love towards Him, Praise God He will never change in His constant love for you!
2. Sometimes our Friends will not speak the truth faithfully
The Bible says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Proverbs 27:6)
A true friend will tell you the truth (although it must be done in a loving, caring attitude), and will not turn away from the truth even when it may cause you hurt. Why? Because a true friend has your best interests at heart, and would rather suffer your displeasure than have you carry on in your sin either in ignorance or willfully.
It is no sign of friendship to speak well when all is not well. Who wants a doctor to tell him all is well, when he knows you are riddled with disease and your time is short? And what kind of friend is it that will refuse to say the hard things, while remaining your friend at the same time? The Bible says he is not a friend, but rather an enemy!
J.C. Ryle once showed the contrast between man’s friendship and the Lord’s in the following words:
“Man’s friendship is sadly blind. He often injures those he loves by overbearing kindness: he often errs in the counsel he gives; he often leads his friends into trouble by bad advice, even when he means to help them. He sometimes keeps them back from the way of life, and entangles them in the vanities of the world, when they have almost escaped. The friendship of the Lord Jesus is not that way: it always does us good, and never evil.”
Let me ask you, is Christ your Friend? If He is not, if I would be a true friend to you I must tell you that you are a lost man or woman, and are not saved. How can I be so sure? Because all whom Jesus saves, He befriends. You cannot have Christ as a Saviour and not have Him as your Friend.
But the question cuts two ways: let me turn the page and ask now whether you are Christ’s friend? That is just as important, because like our text at the beginning states, “a friend loveth at all times”. So let me ask you, Do you love the things Christ loves … at all times?
Do you love His people? He loves His people.
Do you love His church? Christ loves His church and gave himself for it.
Do you love His Father? Christ loved His Heavenly Father and proved it by His obedience. If we love Him, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15). Not only that, our Lord defines His friends by their obedience to Him! He says, “Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14)
Do you love God’s Word? Christ loved God’s Word and proved it not just by His teaching, but by His example.
These are searching questions and if you would be a friend to your own soul you must answer them. Do not rest until you have settled this matter and it is well with your soul and then you’ll be able to sing with assurance:
What a Friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer.