Friendship-Flourishing Or Forsaking?
Friendship is one of the many blessings that God has given to mankind. When an individual is blessed to find a true friend, then he has found something worth more than gold. The Bible indicates “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24).
A great example of friendship is seen in the lives of David and Jonathan. Their friendship existed during perilous times for David. At one time, Saul, the king of Israel, wanted David dead. This presented conflict for David and Jonathan because Saul was Jonathan’s father. However, the friendship between David and Jonathan was so strong that Jonathan sided with David over his father’s wicked ambition (1 Sam. 20:30-34). Their closeness is seen by examining certain instances. Take for example the following: “And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded. And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the LORD, saying, The LORD be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever. And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city” (1 Sam. 20:41-42). Also, “And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God. And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my Father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth. And they two made a covenant before the LORD: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house” (1 Sam. 23:16-18).
When one can find a friendship that is as strong as David’s and Jonathan’s, then cares and troubles of this life seem more bearable. Solomon put it this way: “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Eccl. 4:9-12). The strength that comes from a good friend is truly priceless.
With all of that being said, one of the greatest tragedies that can befall a man is to have a friend betray him. The most famous of betrayals took place by a man named Judas Iscariot. Judas was one of the original apostles of the Lord (Matt. 10:2-4). Yet, he is remembered mostly as the one “…who also betrayed him” (Matt. 10:4). I can only imagine the pain and sadness that Jesus must have felt knowing that Judas would forsake Him. Such a close friend for so long, and unfortunately that friendship was fractured due to sin. “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him” (Matt. 26:14-16). Jesus even confronted Judas about his betrayal, but sadly his mind was set (Matt. 26:20-25). When the time came, Judas forsook the Lord with a kiss (Matt. 26:47-49). Such a gesture should have been a sign of greeting and friendship, but nonetheless, it has become remembered for betrayal.
Jesus is not the only one to be forsaken by a friend. At one time, the apostle Paul had a close relationship with a man by the name of Demas. Paul thought so much of the man that Paul mentioned Demas favorably in some writings. When addressing the Christians in Colosse, Paul wrote, “Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you” (Col. 4:14). Also, in the letter known as Philemon, Paul indicated that Demas was a “fellowlabourer” (Philemon 24). Sadly though, the last indicator that we have of Demas is tragic. Before his death, Paul made mention of Demas one more time. “Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia” (2 Tim. 4:9-10). What a sad end to a friendship!
If we are blessed in this life to have at least one, true friend, then we should be very grateful. Let us nurture that friendship. Let us be the friend on which others can count. We should do our parts to make sure that others do not feel the pain of betrayal. In closing, let us learn from the proverb, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17).
~ Corey Barnette