FROM YOUR PASTOR’S HEART February 27, 2023
Lately, I have been hearing from a number of friends from my past with prayer requests. Knowing that I am a pastor, and a man of prayer, these people have reached out to me with specific prayer needs. Many of them involve family members who are dealing with serious health concerns. Some of these relationships go all the way back to my high school days, more than fifty years ago. Yet, we have remained friends across the years and the long distance between us.
These recent contacts started me thinking about the meaning of the term “friends.” The Bible has some interesting insights into true friendships. We read in Proverbs 17:17: “A friend loves at all times.” Then, Solomon adds in Proverbs 18:24: “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” I have no reason to question the love of these people from my past. We did share the stresses of our teenage-years, with all of the insecurities and uncertainties they bring. And, we did so without trouble or strife. I have a genuine love for all of them.
The wisdom of Solomon is also evident in the idea that in order to have friends we must be friendly. Even though I was shy in my youth, after my call to ministry I made an effort to work at being more friendly. Some people might think that I am a bit “overly friendly.” I often hear this from my grandchildren when we are out in public, as they cringe in embarrassment by Grandpa’s “friendliness” to strangers. Yet, I do believe that my years of spreading seeds of kindness have reaped me a harvest of real friends.
However, Solomon also talks about some special friends that are closer than a brother. Such relationships are rare, indeed. These are the people on whom you can call in the middle of the night, when you need help, and be assured that they will come to your aid. These are the friends who will tell you what you need to hear, even when it may not be well received. Solomon describes such a friend as one “who sticks,” meaning that the relationship will remain steadfast and true, despite any obstacles, hurdles or hardships. I want to be that kind of friend to the precious people God has placed in my life!
Serving in love, Bro. Jim