By Elder Larry Wise

It is a great blessing to have friends while we live in this earth below, but the scriptures tell us of a friend that sticketh closer than any natural blood brother. (Prov. 18:24). I understand this to mean that Jesus Christ is that special friend. Christ demonstrated His friendship toward His people who were anything but friends toward Him in their vile natures. He is not ashamed to call His people brethren as He lay down His life at Calvary for those who were sanctified and set apart by God and given to Him as His bride. Even though His bride was an enemy toward Him, He reckoned her as friend because of His great love and subsequent shed blood. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). Christ died for sinners whom He loved. “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:7-8). Jesus is the best friend of a born again child of God. However, Jesus told His disciples that, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (John 15:14).

Is Jesus going to be my friend if I keep His commandments? No, He is always going to be my friend. He has shown His great love through His death at Calvary. His voice I trust has spoken to me when I was dead in trespasses and sins and brought me forth from darkness into His kingdom. (Col. 1:13). He is now working in me both to will and to do of His good pleasure. This cannot be changed; consequently, He is always my friend that sticketh
closer than a brother. The other side of the coin is that I show I’m a friend to Jesus when I keep His commandments as Jesus plainly said. He called His disciples friends because He had shown them all things He had heard of His Father. (John 15:15). He had chosen them, and they had not chosen Him; He ordained them to go forth and bring forth fruit.  They could not bring forth fruit without keeping what had been made known unto them; they kept the commandments. As long as they kept His commandments, they were His friends and had fellowship with Him.

When I follow the leadership of the Spirit as commanded, being a child of the King, I show my friendship toward the One that loved me with an everlasting love just as Jesus told His disciples. I need to follow the example of Abraham and avoid having to ask the question, “Whose friend am I”. James tells of a faithful Abraham, “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” (James 2:22-23). If I desire to be called the friend of God and of Christ, I must be obedient, just like Abraham. This is justification by faith in the court of my own mind and gives great assurance of salvation.

Jesus arose from the dead as the victorious Saviour over death and the grave and is seated at the right hand of God as intercessor. If I have risen with Him, legally and vitally, then what am I commanded to do? “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Col. 3:1-2).  If my mind is contaminated with the things of the world to the extent that my mind is removed from Christ and His resurrection, then I cease to be His friend, and I become a friend to something else. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (James 4:4). I might attempt to justify myself and say, “Wait a minute; I haven’t been guilty of adultery; therefore, I cannot be an enemy of God.” It is true that I may not have physically committed adultery with a member of the opposite sex, but if I have left my affection for the bridegroom and set my affection on anyone or anything else to the exclusion of Christ, I am guilty of spiritual adultery. I have left my first love and gone after other gods in this world and cease to be called the friend of God.

There are certain people in this world with whom I do not need to be friends. I should choose my friends wisely because evil communications corrupt good manners. I can reason with myself and try to convince myself that seeing and listening to anything will not affect my conduct and attitude. I would be wrong because God says it is wrong. I do not think it shows cowardice to run away from corruption and evil, unless of course you have the ability and opportunity to do away with it. Joseph tore his clothes to run away from the
enticements of Pharaoh’s wife rather than sin a great sin against God. Paul tells Timothy, “Flee also youthful lusts, but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call of the Lord out of a pure heart.” (II Tim. 2:22). Rather than an act of cowardice, it is an act of bravery to follow the command of God and keep myself unspotted from the world. There are times I might be called upon to stand up against the forces of evil and lift up a
standard against the enemies of God, but this is an entirely different context. Let us rightly divide the word of truth.

I am informed by the word of God about the consequences of being submissive to anger and subsequent unfriendliness toward God.  This anger grieves the Holy Spirit. “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice” (Eph. 4:30-31). If this is a grievance against the Spirit of God, then why would I want to be a friend and in company with someone who is always angry with himself and the world? “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.” (Prov. 22:24-25). Satan lays many snares in an attempt to afflict my spiritual soul and friendship with Jesus and God. Anger is one of those snares that brings no peace as long as it is harbored in the port of the heart. I must put it aside if I am to grow in grace and knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ.

Whose friend am I? If I am a friend of God and Christ, I will shun the ways of the ungodly and desire to cultivate friendship with those whose life reflects the true virtues of God. It
doesn’t matter if someone I know is involved in something the scripture forbids and is attempting to get me involved. I cannot lower my standards because I am held accountable to God and should be a witness against such conduct by my own actions. I trust at the end of each day that I can say I am a friend to God and Jesus Christ. May God give strength to be more friendly toward the One whom I should love with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.