If someone asked me what has helped me in my spiritual growth the most, I would have to say a few close friends that God gave me. Only a few years ago, I had come to a place where I had few people that I could call friends.
Patrick Morley, a Christian author with several great books for men, once wrote, “Most men could recruit six pallbearers for their funeral, but hardly anyone has a friend he can call at 2 a.m.”
That was me. This is mostly because I had become so wrapped up in my own world and family that I made no time for friends. But, when I suddenly found myself out in the wilderness, standing there face to face with that toothless, old lion, I knew that the rest of the pride was not far behind. I was about to be destroyed. That’s the way lions hunt, you know? Ever watch Discovery Channel and see how the lions pick off the tired, sick wildebeast by isolating it from the rest of the herd?
I needed friends – and God sent me some unbelieveable friends just in time. Not just any friends, but His chosen and elect who were able to hear His voice and carry out His will. You can read about them in today’s chapter:
24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (NIV)
I used to think that this was referring to Jesus. Jesus is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. That’s true. There is no doubt that Jesus will never leave us or forsake us. Jesus even calls Himself our friends in John 15:
14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
But, this verse in Proverbs seems to be talking about our human friends. Look at a few other translations and see if you don’t agree:
24 There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. (NLT)
24 Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family. (MSG)
God sent me a few true friends just when I needed them. Now, I’m involved in a men’s group and I have many friends. God is using me to be friends to others, too, and to help rescue them when they face their lions.
So, who are your friends? Are you an island like I was with lots of acquaintences but no real friends? Bro, I hope not. I hope that when trouble comes (and it will) you have a few true friends who can hold you up and help you through. If not, I encourage you to seek out a men’s group in a local church that understands about relationships. Ask God to send you some true friends who can help, and who you can also help.
And then, become accountable to each other. My friends do this by asking each other the following accountability questions:
• How is your relationship with God?
• How is your relationship with your wife?
• How is your relationship with your child (ren)?
• What have you done this week to spend quality, relational time with your family?
• What did you do this week to take care of your body (exercise, diet, and rest)?
• What did you do this week to maintain your joy in spite of life’s daily circumstances?
• What temptations are you facing and how are you dealing with then?
• How has your thought life been this week? What steps have you taken this week to guard yourself against lustful thoughts, actions, and/or materials?
• Are you giving your best at work or at school?
• Have you been above reproach in financial matters this week?
• Have you been investing regular time in the Word and in prayer?
• Who have you been sharing the Gospel with?
• Have you answered these questions truthfully?
• How can we pray for you and help you?We can’t do this on our own. We need our true friends, our band of brothers. It’s the way God intended.