Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "All For Jesus"1 (Lyrics)
Have you considered adding your friends to your list of assets? That's what they are — in some way or other.
Proverbs 18:24b – There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (NIV)
I'm learning to value friendships through watching older folk express their commitment to each other. They check on each other, guide each other, and share things like food, recipes, memories, outings, health reports, greeting cards, projects, joys, sorrows, and much more. I see them compensate for each other's deficits. They'll patiently listen to a friend describe endless details. I see behaviours that in my younger years I considered trivial, unproductive, and unnecessary in the bigger scheme. Now I see differently.
I'm discovering how friendships help to diminish the ravages of aging and societal decline. Well-nurtured friendships provide a strong immunity against loneliness, anxieties, and hopelessness. The many small gestures and sacrifices which friends make for each other accumulate over the years — like an investment. One can "cash in" on those "savings" by drawing on friendships forged earlier. It might be simply for a chat, or over a secret crisis.
Friends, unlike agencies, aren't restricted by paperwork or policies. They are free to express their mutual loyalty as best as they can, in whatever path that takes. Friends aren't obligated to "accomplish" anything. Yet, in fact, that's what they do. Friends help shape our character. They can make us better people … or worse people. That's a sobering thought; it's also scriptural:
Proverbs 27:9 – The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. (NLT)
Proverbs 27:17 – Just as iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other. (CEV)
Proverbs 27:6 – You can trust a friend who corrects you, but kisses from an enemy are nothing but lies. (CEV)
Proverbs 22:24 – Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered. (NIV)
Proverbs 12:26 – The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray. (NKJV)
Perhaps the topic of friendship is painful for you. You may have lost friends, and the emptiness still gnaws inside you. Perhaps you were betrayed, used, or let down. Perhaps your treasury of friends is rather empty. To you, I say, Take heart! For there is one friend yet to consider: This is our Lord Jesus. He laid down His life for you — as your Friend.
John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (NIV)
We can enjoy the friendship of Christ through our sacrificial devotion to each other. Through our mutual loyalty, we give of ourselves to Him even as He continues to give of Himself to us. A well-nurtured friendship with our Lord is truly a worthy investment — a treasure both in this life and eternally.
John 15:15 – I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (NIV)
Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to value and nurture the friendships that You provide — above all, the friendship of Your dear Son. Amen.