The Cultivation of Friendships

June 9, 2013

The Cultivation of Friendships

“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). We measure our wealth in terms of that which we can call our own.  It’s mine!  Among that which we call our own, we should never overlook our friends.  Fortunate is he who has many friends. Once a friend gave me one of his calling cards; you know those little cards that professionals like to pass out that have their name, address, and telephone number on them.  On the back of his card I read the words “My hobby is collecting friends.”  We have the privilege of choosing who we want as friends.  We should do it with care.  Those who have a hobby of collecting postage stamps know that not all stamps are of value.     Some are rarer than others.  It would be foolish to collect things that people throw away every day because they have no value.  If we aren’t careful, we can collect friends who are of no value.   Some of my best friends are those who have contributes something to me.  I’m not just talking about material things; although many have done that.  I’m talking about things of greater value.  Many have taught me by their example.  I have learned from them.  Some have come to my rescue when I needed help.  Some have corrected me when I was doing something wrong   You can name someone, and call him your friend, but they are vain words if there never has been or is not now a relationship between the two of you.  I have to cultivate a relationship if I expect the other person to call me one of his friends.  This is the thought behind what Salomon said in the verse at the beginning of this article.  How do we show ourselves friendly?  Our manner of conducting ourselves should attract others to us.  There is a right and wrong way to attract people to us.  If we do it by promising to give them something, we will lose their friendship if we don’t keep our promise.  Some rich people accumulate friends by means of what they can give them.  Proverbs 14:20 says, “The poor is hated even of his own neighbor: but the rich hath many friends.”  Friendships that are bought with money aren’t the best kind.  If we lose our money we will also lose our friends.   We need to maintain that which is ours.  Houses and cars are frequently in need of repair.  It is the same with friendships.  If we develop a friendship with someone, we will need to work at it to maintain it.  At times we have to make sacrifices for our friends.  One of Jesus parables dealt with a man who had a friend who came to his door at midnight saying, “Friend, lend me three loaves” (Luke 11:5).  Friends do that to us sometimes.  It’s a test of the measure of our love for them.   We should value our friends.  I have known people who make friends only to take advantage of them.  They discard them when there is no more advantage to be gained by them.  If we offend a friend, we need to be quick to make reconciliation.  We need to be willing to humble ourselves and ask forgiveness.  If one of my friends asks my forgiveness for a wrong he has done to me, I respect him and value him more highly.  If we do the same, our friends will also respect and value us more highly.  This is the price we must be willing to pay to maintain friendships.   Sometimes we feel slighted by our friends.  We don’t feel like they are giving us the attention we deserve.  What happens if a friend invites some of his friends to go on an excursion with him, but you aren’t included?  What happens if you go to a friend at midnight and ask him to loan you something and he says “no”?  You shouldn’t criticize him, even if he is a brother in Christ.  Our friends aren’t obligated to serve us.  What we do for our friends, and what they do for us, is out of love.  We should be thankful for what our friends do for us.  We should look for ways to return favors our friends do for us.  We can’t always do that.   We do well to ask ourselves if we are showing ourselves friendly.  Am I doing all I should to maintain my friendships?  Little favors are always appreciated by our friends.  Sometimes it could just be a note saying, “Thanks for being my friend.”   The reason for having friends is not just the expectation that they will be there for us when we need them.  The best of friendship is the joy we have in doing things together.    We spend time together talking, eating a meal, or maybe just drinking a cup of coffee.  We don’t always agree, but we are still friends.  If a friend does something morally wrong or makes a foolish mistake, it’s not a reason for dumping him.  It may be that he has embarrassed us because we are known as one of his friends.  He needs our moral support.  Assure him that you still love him and be willing to help him gain the victory so it doesn’t happen again.   You will never have a better friend than Jesus.  No one has ever done as much for you as Jesus did when he died on the cross in your place.  John 15:13 says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Perhaps some think it improper to refer to Jesus as a friend.  He himself said “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you”(John 15:15).  In the previous verse he tells us what we need to do to maintain our friendship with him.  “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” I John 5:3 says that his commandments are not grievous if we love him.   Are you a friend of Jesus?  If not, let me introduce you to him.  You can get to know him by reading Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  If you repent of your sin and accept him as your Savior, he will forgive your sins and make you a child of God, with all that is included in that.    “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).

“There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus-

No not one! No not one!”

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