May 21st, 2020
The Depth of Friendship
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends -John 15:13
One could not but be moved by the story of the soldier who asked his officer if he might go out into "No Man's Land" between the trenches in World War I to bring in one of his comrades who lay grievously wounded. "You can go," said the officer, "but it's not worth it. Your friend is probably killed, and you will throw your own life away." But the man went. Somehow he managed to get to his friend, hoist him onto his shoulder, and bring him back to the trenches. The two of them tumbled in together and lay in the trench bottom. The officer looked very tenderly on the would-be rescuer, and then he said, "I told you it wouldn't be worth it. Your friend is dead and you are mortally wounded." "It was worth it, though, sir," he said. "How do you mean, 'worth it'? I tell you your friend is dead." "Yes, sir," the boy answered, "but it was worth it, because when I got to him he was still alive, and he said to me, 'Jim, I knew you'd come.'"
Proverbs 17:17 states, “A friend loves at all times.” God’s intention of friendship is love. Friendship should be less about what we get out of it and more about how we can serve God and others through it. 1 Corinthians 13:13 reminds us that out of “faith, hope, and love... the greatest of these is love.”
Jesus reiterated the importance of love when he reminded His followers to love God first with all their heart and soul (Matthew 22:37) and then love our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:39) When we put God first and model our friendships after his example to us, we will experience friendship the way God intended us to.
I am reminded of the story of Ruth and Naomi. The world around us can be overwhelming sometimes, and in the most desperate places of our lives, we are tempted to think about what anyone other than God says about us. Naomi was having a devastating moment such as this.
Naomi's life seemingly had been taken from her. First, her husband died. Within ten years, both of her sons died, too. (Ruth 1:3-5) Desperate and done, she left her land and set off towards Judah, "where she heard the Lord had come to the aid of his people.” (Ruth 1:6-7) She sent her daughters-in-law back to their mothers’ homes (Ruth 1:8-9) but “Ruth refused to leave her and the bible states "clave to her”. (Ruth1:14)
“Clave,” in Hebrew means “to stay close, to cleave, to join to, …”. What defines the faithful attribute God assigns to friendship is this: "to be joined together". Ruth joined together with Naomi in their hardships. Their friendship illustrates God’s faithfulness to those who will serve each other when placed together as an extension of His love here on earth.
Jesus reiterated the importance of love when he reminded His followers to love God first with all their heart and soul (Matthew 22:37) and then love our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:39) Always put God first and I believe when we model our friendships after Him, we will experience friendship the way God intended us to.
I think that God will never send, a gift so precious as a friend,
A friend who always understands, and fills each need as it demands,
Whose loyalty will stand the test, when skies are bright or overcast,
Who sees the faults that merit blame, but keeps on loving just the same.
Who does far more than creeds could do. To make us good, to make us true,
Earth’s gifts a sweet contentment lend, But only God can give a friend!
A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in
your future, and accepts you today just the way you are.
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Pastor Rudy Oakes