Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Friendship (04/04/05)
TITLE: Re You A Friend Of God?
By Doug Laird
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Acquaintances are many, but friends are few. This is true in the spiritual realm as well as in the natural environment.
The test of any relationship is not to be found in the day of joy and celebration, but in the day of adversity and disappointment. Truly, no greater hurt can be delivered than when the pain is received from someone we knew as a “close friend (Psalms 41:9 NIV)”.
The Bible reveals the characteristics of a true friend in such passages as Proverbs 17: 17, Proverbs 18: 24, Proverbs 27: 6, yet Scripture also warns us to “…put no confidence in a friend. Even with her who lies in your embrace be careful of your words (Micah 7: 5 NIV). Even in the best of human relationships, people are going to disappoint us and we are going to disappoint people.
This does not mean that we are not to make and enjoy relationships and the friendships of others, but that we must be aware that the manifestation of the sin nature (Romans 7) will be found in all of us from time to time.
The essence of this fallen nature is that it primarily functions for self-interests and even the “good” it does for others is often no more than selfish manipulation as “…their flattering lips speak with deception (Psalms 12:2 NIV).
Show me two people who claim that they are never in disagreement with the other or haven’t used the other at one time or other for self-promotion or gratification and I’ll show you at least one liar and at least one fool.
Common interests are what may attract two or more individuals to form a friendship, but it is forgiveness that will preserve the relationships in times of inevitable conflicts and disappointments. Unrealistic expectations and refusing to forgive will ensure the demise of any human relationship.
Abraham was a man of great faith (Gen. 15:6), but Abraham also spoke half-truths (Gen. 20:2, 12) to save his own neck (Gen. 20: 11), was a doubter (Gen. 17:17), and a schemer (Gen. Gen 16:2/Gen. 20).
His domestic situation, like that of David’s, was one of intense conflicts between family members. Interesting enough, these great men of God would have been disqualified as New Testament pastor-teachers is some sectors of the Christian Community (1Tim.3: 4).
Abraham, like Adam (Gen. 3:17), listened to his wife (Gen. 16:2) with the consequences of that decision still being observed in the conflicts of the Middle East to this very day.
Like all of us, Abraham’s behavior and service to God were a mixed bag of success and failures. What then was it that caused Abraham to be called a friend of God (Isa.41: 8)?
Friendship requires intimacy and intimacy requires personal knowledge. Just as a child usually knows without asking what his parents are going to say, the same is true of a child of God who has developed personal intimacy with God.
You cannot be a true friend with a God that you do not know. In the Church Age, what we know (or don’t know) about the Written Word (The Bible) is what we know (or don’t know) about the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:1).
We can be saved (Luke 23: 42, 43/Acts 2: 21/Acts 16: 31, 32) with a minimal amount of Biblical doctrine, but we cannot be a disciple or a friend of God without developing and applying “…the mind of Christ (1Cor. 2: 16NIV).”
We know that we are developing an intimate friendship with God when we no longer have to wonder or research the Scriptures in order to discern God’s viewpoint or specific will in a given situation. No one ever reaches this point in totality in this lifetime, but much can be learned if we have the desire to do so (Jeremiah 29:13).
What value would you place on a friendship in which a “friend” only came to your house because he felt obligated to do so or only talked to you for few minutes occasionally if he had the time? Worse yet, consider the only time you ever heard from him was when he wanted something from you.
As we “Examine ourselves… (2Cor. 13:5 NIV)”, we must ask what kind of friend of His does God consider us to be.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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