A Friend In Need Is A Friend Indeed.
“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” – Proverbs 17:17 NLT
My first reaction when reading the verse above is to say, “Really?” I can’t help but be a bit doubtful about the veracity of this statement based on my own experience with my own friends. I haven’t always found my friends to be loyal or my brothers to be there when I needed them. So what’s the problem? What am I missing here? I think Solomon is talking about “true” friendship and brotherhood. In other words, he is describing these relationships as God designed them to be. Both were His idea, not ours. He came up with the concept of a friend and He established the parameters under which that relationships should function – in an ideal world – a world free from sin. In that kind of world a friend WOULD always be loyal and a brother WOULD always be there in time of need. Of course, in a world free from sin, there wouldn’t be any need. But the point is that God has a high view of both friendship and brotherhood. He has not lowered His expectations due to the fall. He still expects us to be the kind of friends who remain loyal, through thick and thin. He still expects us to be the kind of brother who shows up when needed, regardless of the time or the inconvenience.
Paul describes the kind of love this requires. “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT). Solomon tells us, “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends” (Proverbs 17:9 NLT). Love seems to be the key. The kind of love that Paul describes all throughout chapter 13 of the book of 1st Corinthians. It is agape love, that sacrificial, lay-it-all-on-the-line kind of love that Jesus modeled for us. It is the kind of love that expects nothing in return, that doesn’t demand reciprocal demonstrations of love. A true friend is loyal even in the face of disloyalty. A true brother continues to help even when he finds himself alone in his own time of need. The motivation is love, not payback. The model is Christ. He loved us when we refused to love Him back. He continues to be the consummate example of a friend, remaining loyal to us even when we are painfully disloyal to Him. He is the ideal example of a brother, remaining faithful to us in our times of need, regardless of our faithfulness to Him.
We live in difficult times, surrounded by adversity and constantly finding ourselves in need. God has designed friendship and brotherhood as means to provide help, hope, comfort and encouragement. He has placed us in the family of God and made us brothers and sisters in order that we might exhibit His love to one another through tangible acts of kindness, care, and encouragement. Our ability to be loyal and our capacity to meet needs is from God. He has equipped us and expects us to be true friends and brothers. Our greatest witness of the presence and power of God is to do just that.
Father, show me how to be a true friend and the kind of brother who is there in time of need. Continue to remove my tendency toward selfishness and self-centeredness. Forgive me of the what’s-in-it-for-me mentality that pervades my thinking. Let me see Your Son as the model and follow His lead. May I listen to Your Spirit more and less to my flesh. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men