The Joy of Godly Friends
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” – Psalm 133:1
Jackie Robinson was the first Black American to play Major League Baseball, and he faced wrongdoing from certain fans just because of his ethnicity. At one particular game in front of the home crowd in Brooklyn, New York, Robinson made an error, and the crowd soon began to taunt him. Pee Wee Reese, another Brooklyn player, walked over to Robinson, placed his arm over Robinson’s shoulder, and held it there until the crowd stopped jeering. What an incredible moment of unity and friendship!
We all need a “hand over our shoulder.” We all need a Pee Wee Reese. We all need great friends. And today, we’ll look at three quick points from Scripture to quickly remind ourselves of why great, godly friends are such a joy and pleasure from God to have.
First, we need to give and accept sincere, godly love. The Apostle Peter says to other believers that Jesus Christ’s return could happen at any time. So what does he encourage them to do? “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (I Peter 4:8-10). According to these verses, God has placed Christian friends into our lives so we can be prepared for his return by (1) learning to forgive and forget each other’s wrongdoing, (2) having heart-felt hospitality with each other, and (3) serving each other with our spiritual, grace-given gifts. Christian love and friendship are a two-way street of forgiveness, hospitality, and gracious service!
Second, we need to receive healthy, faithful wounds. Sometimes when my wife and I go for a long trip, we’ll be traveling into the early morning hours. As the driver, I can feel sleepiness coming over me, and I may not immediately sense the car slowly drifting toward the side of the road. Quickly my wife will hit my shoulder and ask if I’m ok. I quickly sit up and say yes, and we stop at a gas station so we can switch places and I can grab a nap. When that has happened (which, thankfully, is very rare), I haven’t responded in a frustrated or angry way. Why? Because she helped keep me safe even if she had to hit my shoulder to get my attention. Proverbs 27:5-6 (“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend…”) reminds us that we need godly friends who will “hit our shoulders” in love. We need people who will help point out a sin struggle so we can repent and get back on the road to glorifying God and enjoying him.
Third, we need to display Christ’s love to a lost world. I remember trying to find a theatre in the downtown part of a busy city. Surrounded by hustle and bustle, I was struggling to locate it until I came around a corner and saw a huge, blinking sign with a large arrow pointing at a building. The sign immediately caught my attention, and it stated in large letters the name of the theatre. In John 13:35, Jesus says, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” In this extremely busy world, people are trying to find what real love is. They are searching for people who claim Christianity and really are Christians. When we love other believers, when we love our Christian friends, we are a big blinking sign that shouts: “HERE ARE JESUS’ FOLLOWERS!” What a testimony our friendships can have.
Thank God for Christian friends, by whom God allows us to grow in Christlikeness, to experience God-given joy, and to exhibit His love to the world.