My grandfather was a very wise man. I remember clearly, through the tears of preteen drama, he said to me:
“A rich man can count his close friends on one hand.”
“Surely not,” I retorted. “The more friends the better.”
“Having more friends does not make you wealthy. Having real friends does.”
The Bible contains many verses about the importance of friendship. Some of my favorites are:
*Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
*John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
*Proverbs 18:24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
During a recent sermon, I was reminded of an excellent story in the Bible about friendship. In Mark 2, Jesus returned to Capernaum after performing miracles throughout Galilee. Of course word had spread quickly, and everyone wanted to see Jesus. He was preaching in a home (possibly the home of Peter) and there were so many people gathered that there wasn’t even room around the door to see Him.
Then they came, bringing a paralytic to Him, who had been picked up and was being carried by four men. And when they could not get him to a place in front of Jesus because of the throng, they dug through the roof above Him; and when they had scooped out an opening, they let down the quilt or mat upon which the paralyzed man lay. And when Jesus saw their faith [their confidence in God through Him], He said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven and put away.”
And later in verse 11 (after the scribes were giving Jesus a hard time–Who is this man to say He can forgive sins?), Jesus says “I say to you, arise, pick up and carry your sleeping pad or mat, and be going home.” The paralyzed man was healed and they all praised God!
Now, I’m telling you, that’s real friendship!
As I examine the story, here’s what I see about friendship:
- There were four friends. Sure, I know you would need four people to carry someone on a mat. But, it makes me know my grandfather was very wise. In this case, four real friends changed a man’s life.
- The friends acted. They didn’t just take their friend out to the street in hopes that Jesus would walk by. They took him on top of a house, dug a hole in the roof, and dropped him down!
- The friends brought the man right to Jesus. There was no “I”ll pray for you,” and then a meager prayer given. Oh no. Instead, it was “Jesus, our friend is paralyzed, and we will lay him at your feet. We know you can heal him.”
- The friends had real faith, and the man was healed because of it. The Bible says, “And when Jesus saw their faith [their confidence in God through Him]…”
- They were thankful. “And he arose at once and picked up the sleeping pad or mat and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and recognized and praised and thanked God saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this before!’”
Those are the kinds of friends we all need, and the kind of friends we need to be.
A few, really close friends.
Friends that act. Friends that see a need, and then do something to help.
Friends that genuinely pray for you. Friends that will take you straight to the feet of Jesus.
Friends that have a real faith in God.
Friends that worship and praise God for His amazing glory.
Are you that kind of friend? If not, what do you need to change in order to get there?
Are you surrounding yourself with these kind of friends, or do you have vampire friends (that suck the life right out of you!) ?
If you do have these kind of friends, thank God for them! True friends really are a blessing from above!