Pleasing God, Making Disciples of Jesus Christ

The Joy and Necessity of Spiritual Friends

ECCLESIASTES 4:9-12 – Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”


THEME OF THE DAY:  THE JOY AND NECESSITY OF SPIRITUAL FRIENDS.  Do we have spiritual and biblically-defined friends?  Be careful how we answer that seemingly easy question and before we do, settle in and ponder this excerpt from Michael Haykin’s book Iron Sharpens Iron: Friendship and the Grace of God. It is lengthy but insightful and worthy of our time.


He writes, “The Bible uses two significant images in its representation of friendship. The first is the knitting together of souls. Deuteronomy provides the earliest use of this image, where a friend is described as one who is ‘as your own soul’ (Deuteronomy 13:6), that is, a companion of one’s innermost thoughts and feelings. The same idea recurs in 1 Samuel 18:1, where we read that ‘the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.’  The privileges and responsibilities of a biblical friend involve intimacy, loyalty, and a strong emotional attachment.  The second image that the Bible uses to represent friendship is the face-to-face encounter. This is the image used for Moses’ relationship to God. We are told that in the tabernacle, God spoke to Moses ‘face to face, as a man speaks to his friend’ (Exodus 33:11). This depiction of friendship as a face-to-face encounter implies conversation, a sharing of confidences, and consequently, a meeting of minds, goals, and direction. One of the benefits of face-to-face encounters between friends is the heightened insight that such encounters produce. A Proverb that highlights this idea is the famous one from Proverbs 27:17, ‘Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another’”.


And before we go back and answer the opening question, “Do we have spiritual and biblically-defined friends?”, let’s add two more Biblical definitions of a spiritual friend. The first one I provided in today’s scripture from King Solomon.  Notice the level of investment in the well-being of one another and the value of such relationships going beyond a passing “How are you?” on a Sunday morning.  The other definition comes from the relationship of the Apostle Paul and a brother in the Lord named Epaphroditus – I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need (Philippians 2:25). In this friendship was spiritual intimacy, shared Gospel service and warfare, and a commitment to care for one another.


Okay, now our answers. I admit what I am about to write is uncomfortable, but I don’t believe we have many friends as defined by the Bible.  We have more acquaintances than friends.  Biblical friends are not like Facebook friends or those people we get together with once in a while to “catch up”.  And Biblical friends are not those we see once a week on Sunday, or occasionally go out for a meal.  As the Biblical evidence indicates, spiritual friends invest in one another with spiritual intimacy, sacrifice, transparency, and is a necessity for true fellowship and spiritual growth.  So, now the question becomes, “Will we be and have true Biblical friends?”  Our joy in the Lord will deepen as a result.


PRAYER: “Father, help me to invest in relationships with Your people that go beyond a Sunday morning or a Bible study.”


QUOTE: “Close spiritual relationships with other Christians are a necessity for our spiritual health and growth.”


In the affection of Christ Jesus,


Pastor Jim