Everybody needs good friends. God Himself has friends! God made us to be social—people who naturally desire the company of other people. Life would be pretty dull without family and friends.
But how do you choose and make good friends, and how do you treat them once you have them? How do you become a friend of God? The Bible has a lot to say about friendships with other people—and with Jesus Christ.
Let’s review some key verses about friendship, considering them in terms of having Jesus Christ as our best friend. If Christ is our best friend, He will help us live in a way that will prepare us for an eternal, abundant life, and He will help us become better friends to those around us.
1. Whom did God consider to be His friends? Exodus 33:11; 2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23.
Both Moses and Abraham were God’s friends. God spoke with Moses face to face, just as you speak to your friends at school or Sabbath services. God promised to give Abraham—His friend—great blessings through his descendants.
2. How did Moses and Abraham become friends of God—and how do we become His friends? John 15:14. In a similar vein, how do we show our love to God? John 14:15; 1 John 5:3.
In James 2:23, Abraham is called a friend of God because of his faith, but we know that faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Thus, in order to become God’s friend, Abraham had to both obey God and have faith in God. He had to keep God’s commandments.
True friends love each other. If we are going to be God’s friends, we must love Him, and we show our love to Him by keeping His commandments.
3. Are God’s commandments a burden, or do they make our lives easier? Matthew 11:28-30. Does keeping God’s commandments lead to an abundant life? John 10:10.
The influences of society may make it seem like God’s commandments are extreme, but Christ Himself says that keeping His commands leads to abundance and joy. These commands are clear and make good sense. They are for the benefit of everyone: Love God, don’t put anyone or anything before Him, respect His name, keep His Sabbaths, honor your parents, don’t kill, don’t participate in sex outside of marriage, don’t steal, lie or covet. These commands are practical, and they outline a healthy and enjoyable way to live. And when we obey them, God considers us to be His friends.
A True Friend
1. Did God create humans to need companionship? Genesis 2:18. Does God consider it better to be alone or to have friends? Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.
When God created Adam, He knew that he needed a helpmeet. Likewise, God created all of us to need people to confide in—people for us to look after and people to look after us.
Two are better than one, and when the other is Christ walking with us, we can most certainly look forward to a good reward for our labor with Him. If we fall, we can depend on Him to lift us up again. He has promised that when we walk in His way and keep His commandments, we have the protection of His friendship.
2. Are true friends loyal? Proverbs 17:17; Proverbs 18:24.
True friends are there in the good times and the bad times, and the most perfect example of this is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is perfectly loyal to His friends—He is always there for us. He is not just a fair-weather friend who is there in times of prosperity, but He is a supportive, faithful friend in times of adversity as well. He is there when other “friends” forsake us.
3. Do true friends offer sound advice? Proverbs 27:9.
A good friend will give advice that helps us become better people. This is the counsel that Jesus Christ gives us when we study His Word. His Word can be pleasant, like a favorite perfume. It can also make us think, and it can correct us.
4. Do true friends also provide us with positive peer pressure as well as a source of honest feedback and, if we need it, correction? Verses 5-6, 17.
A true friend can help us change a bad habit by his or her counsel or example. He can also cause us to deeply meditate on our purpose in life and our destiny—and there is no better friend for this than the Bible, which is Jesus Christ in print. If we read the Bible for correction and direction, it will sharpen us and make us better tools for God like no physical friend ever could (Hebrews 4:12). Any time we open our Bible, we have an opportunity to visit with our closest friend and benefit from what He speaks about in the scriptures.
If you have a true friend, you can trust what he or she says, even when it hurts. Your enemies want to hurt you even if they are pretending to be nice, but a true friend exhorts you because he or she knows it is for your own good. It is good for us to be exhorted by our friends when we veer off the strait and narrow path.
Once again, Christ is the best of friends in this respect. He is discreet with us in His correction—if we listen to Him in our daily Bible study. When we do, His reproof comes to us through His written Word, which we receive in the privacy of wherever we choose to do our Bible study. He is still bold in His correction, and it hurts sometimes to read His condemnation of something we do or something we are. But we know that we can trust Him and that these words are for our good—for He is our truest friend of all.
Being a Friend
1. Is it important to be circumspect in whom we choose as friends? Proverbs 13:20; 22:24-25.
The character of our friends has an effect on us. If we associate with people of high character, our character will be better for it. But if we associate with people of low character, we will become as they are.
2. How do we make the right kinds of friends? Proverbs 18:24.
The best way to have the right kind of friend is to be the right kind of friend—to be a friend to others like Christ is to us! As we walk with Christ and do what He commands, we seal our friendship with Him. And as we do for others what He does for us, we become more and more like Him. This means that we will be better friends to those around us. Christ is the perfect example of the kind of friend we should be to our friends.
Do you have Christ’s friendship qualities toward your friends? Are you loyal to them in their prosperous times and when they face adversity? Do you study God’s Word daily to learn to give good advice? Can you give a friend godly wisdom in a way that makes you a joy to talk to and causes your friends to stop, think and change for the better? Do you tell your friends the truth even if it hurts—such as if they are slipping into harmful habits or pursuing worldly interests that end in slavery to sin? Christ does this for us when we read His Word, and we should do this for our friends—in love—even if it is uncomfortable for them to see the truth of their wrong behavior. In the long run, it will be for their benefit.
Walk in Christ’s example with those you choose as friends, and treat them as Christ treats you. If you do, you will have true, good, lasting friends.