Who are your friends? A simple enough question, one would think, they are the people that we know and trust, generally those that we have known over a long period of time. A friend is someone you can count on, the person who is always willing to take time out for you, who knows your needs and is there for you to lean on whenever you need them. They laugh, cry and hold your hand when you need, they are there for you. You are attached to this person, so to speak, through respect and affection, you always desire their company and their well-being at all times, we favor them above others.
“A friend loves at all times,” (Prov. 17:17) There is very little that you cannot confide to a friend, a true friend here on this earth is most possibly the closest in a relationship, at least in human terminology, with Christ that we can receive while we are here. If you have been blessed with a spouse, then you have, or should have the best and most-dearest friend that you will always ever know at your side. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” (Eph. 5:25) The wisdom of God in this verse was shown to me almost the day that I met my wife, she is my best, and to tell you the truth, only real friend on this earth. I trust no one more than her, I rely on her constantly, and I have been taught through her that life has a meaning that I never knew existed. She is my friend. And so it is to those who are married I write this letter.
If you have noticed in many of my letters to you, I use two different references to those who are reading them. I call you my friends, but also my brothers and sisters in Christ. This is not something that I planned, all of these letters are left in the capable hands of the Holy Spirit, I do very little if any planning before I sit to write them, I trust in Him completely to lead as He best sees fit. He also is my friend, and as I do my loving wife, I trust in Him explicitly, no questions asked, for I know that everything that He asks me to do it is for the glory of God. It is not needed for me to know or understand the reasons behind His leading, it is enough that I trust and obey the prompting that He places within me. Here though I may have gone to far, I may have overstepped my boundaries, as it were.
I am sure that by now many of you have thought “Well, why hasn’t he called Jesus his friend yet?” Plain and simple, I just can’t yet. And the answer, at least for me, is quite simple and it is found in John 15:14; “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” Though many that know me well would say that I serve the Lord, I do not see that in myself, that “if ye do” keeps staring me in the face. I have never felt that within me is the ability to follow Him wherever He may lead. I like to think that I would, but I know myself better than that. I will call the Lord God my friend when He says that I can, and not before.
But I believe it may be time now to look at Proverbs 17:17 in its entirety and the reason for this letter to you. “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Adversity, trouble, difficulty, heartbreak. The definition of a brother. The word has of course several different meanings, but in the context of the Scripture here it means that this brother is there to assist us in our adversity, not to cause it. When we experience trouble, when our hearts have been broken and we are so in despair that we seek none, our brother is there for us, always. He is our friend.
If you have the proper, Christ centered relationship that you are to have with your spouse, then your wife is your sister in Christ, your husband is you brother in Christ. You should know no closer relationship with any other human being on this planet. I understand that for some they feel a need to meet regularly with those of the same gender, to have either one-on-one or group meetings with those of the same sex, but great caution must be observed in this area. Too many times I have seen marriages torn apart by these sessions, if you will, words are spoken in secret that should never have been spoken to anyone save the one that they have committed and willingly determined to devote the entirety of their lives to.
No one should mean more to you than your friend, no one should ever come between your brother and you, no on should be closer to you than the one you are married to, no one. I am not speaking here of any individual that you have a close relationship with, nor one just because you have known them for several years, even if it has been for most of your life. This person that I am referencing to here is the one person that just came into your mind, the one that knows everything about you, because you have told them. I have met couples like this who have been married for only a few short years, their trust in each other is amazing, and it is quite easy to see. Their lives revolve around each other, the one that they have given their life to is of more value than even their own life, their desire is what the other desires.
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Heb. 13:5) Now I know that the end of this verse is our Lord speaking to those who have devoted their lives to Him, but look closely at the beginning of it, without covetousness and content. Does this describe the person that you call friend, do you covet anything more than friendship from the one that you call your friend? It should not matter if your friend has more faith or God given skill than you, if they are better at most things than you are, none of that should matter, for if it does, they are not your friend. Friends rejoice in everything that comes to each of them, they are there when times are difficult and when they are going well, and I must tell you this, I do not believe that the lost can or ever will have a friend like I am talking about here.
What of those that we would call friends outside of the marriage relationship though. Here is one of the reasons that I call you my friends, it is why I consider you my brothers and sisters in Christ. We will spend eternity together, we will enjoy the presence of the Lord and all the pleasures that He has waiting for us together, we are friends and brothers. For now, though, we are limited to those that we meet each day, those that at least while we are here on earth doing His work we not only are commanded to love but should do so willingly. Great care must be given in this area, for the adversary is a liar, and he will send those that are very good at what they do. Not everyone that you meet that calls themselves Christians are so, and the trust that we would desire to impart to them must be given and receive with caution. “You shall know them by their fruits. (Matt. 7:16)
There is something that I have done for a very large part of my life, even before I heard the Lord calling me, I test people. Not in a way that would bring shame to them, or in anyway that would set myself above them, but in a way that informs me, at least in an initial way, whether or not I might be able to call this person a friend over time. I will tell this person something inconsequential, something of no real value, but in the telling, I will say something like “Between you and me,” and then I will wait, and listen. If I hear from another this item that I have told the person in question to, then I know that any further relationship would probably be unnecessary, and possibly even detrimental. A friend is very hard to come by, and I am afraid to say it, but I believe that very few people truly have one. A true brother or sister in Christ is very difficult to find, and should be loved when they are, but they should never hold any position in your life as close as the one that you are married to, the one you have committed your life to.
“And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” (1st Sam. 18:1) If you want to read of what a true friend is, read the account of these two men, for it is the pattern that you can form your own friendships around. If you trust someone enough to say to them that you love them as your own soul, then you have found a friend. Here is another that should bring to your attention the price that you will afford to someone that you would call your friend, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Are you prepared to die for your friend, are you willing to do anything necessary for the welfare of the one you call friend. This is no small matter here, we are not referring to someone you have known for a long time, this is not some person that you consider just a “friend,’ this is a person that you are willing to lay down your desires, your ambitions, your life for.
On this planet there are at this time approximately eight billion people, and I call only one of them my friend, and for this friend I am willing, and feel honored, to give to her the entirety of my life in every way that not only the Scriptures ask of me, but in any way that she desires. I place no one above her but God Himself, and I have given my life to her for His glory.
This letter is for those of you that are married, who serve Christ better together than you could separately. Honor each other by always being honest, communicate nothing of any true value to any other but to her, or him. Have no secrets, be confidential to no other, let nothing be left unspoken between the two of you. “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so, then they are no more twain, but one flesh.” (Mark 10:7-8)
One can hold nothing from one.