Today I had the privilege of eating lunch with a friend from Kansas City who was in the area. We only had one hour together, but we used that hour to it’s full advantage, completely catching up on each other’s lives. Our friendship enveloped us as we talked and talked and laughed and enjoyed each other’s company. And when she dropped me back off at work, we hugged each other tightly and told each other “I love you.”
As I was driving home and reflecting on our lunch together, I was reminded that God has gifted me with many friends not only here in the United States, but across the world. And tonight, after I got home, I met up with friends at the church’s sanctuary to sing praises to God–practicing for Father’s Day, but worshipping in the midst of practice. Such real joy. I love those friends.
Proverbs 17:17 has special meaning to me:
17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
What a beautiful verse. A friend loves at all times….not just the good times, but the hard times too. Love is a constant between true friends—it is God-given and God-ordained. Keli and I have recently enjoyed going through pictures of her when she was a little girl. She had a best friend named Kortney, and her mom Pam was one of my dearest friends. The love between us remains even today, though we’ve not seen each other for several years. I am grateful for friendships like that….true friends that love at all times.
“and a brother is born for adversity”. Another beautiful text. A brother will stand by you in times of adversity, in times of tragedy, and in times of real joy. They will teach, protect, not give up, pray consistently, care about your spiritual life and love like the friend….at all times. Both phrases of Proberbs 17:17 are beautiful pictures of God’s intention for friendships and brotherhood.
But it doesn’t end there. There is a nearly unbelievable scripture that soars over and above Proverbs 17:17. Really, it enfolds and encases Proverbs 17:17. It’s found in John 15:15-17:
15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
Amazing. No longer does Jesus call us servants, but he calls us friends—because he has made known to us what He has heard from His father. And don’t forget that last part: He commands these things, So That You Will LOVE One Another. As Friends, loving at all times.
That my Jesus would call me friend, knocks the wind out of me. It makes me want to hide in some ways because how could I ever possibly be a friend to Jesus. Yet that is what scripture says, and He blesses me with friendships and brothers that love at all times, and that teach me to love at all times. I do not deserve this. Neither do you. We are, by nature, selfish, self-centered creatures, bent on our own wants and needs. Yet in true friendships, the love that exhibits itself at all times teaches us to be less selfish, less self-centered. And hopefully in learning these things, we become closer to who God has called us to be.