Proverbs 18: 24 says that “Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.” (The Message Bible) The New International Version says that “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Since we know that all wisdom comes from above (God) and that Solomon was believed to be the wisest man who ever lived, according to the Bible, we can expect that Solomon’s writings do reflect the heart of the Father God. He is in favor of us having best friends!
Solomon writes some positive points of having that friend that sticks closer than a brother in Ecclesiastes Chapter Four. (I have used the New International Version of the Bible but have, also, put the Message Bible’s text in parentheses):
1. Share the work: 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. (It's better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth.)
Well, there is no wealth to be shared in missions, but it is certainly a lot easier to deal with what comes up when you have colleagues with whom you can pray! It is also much more fun to share the victory when it does come!
2. Support: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. ( And if one falls down, the other helps, but if there's no one to help, tough!)
This reference has a lot of sub-headings as the umbrella “support” can mean so many things, can’t it? The same can be said for “falls down.” Quite literally, my colleague has helped me up that first year of blindness when I missed a step going down the hospital stairway or backed off the porch at a friend’s house during a snowy winter furlough. (Snow angel, anyone?)
For all of us there are times when we are tempted to quit what we believe the Lord has asked us to do because we just don’t see the point; there have been no positive results thus far, after all. The best friend will help us stick with it and not give up.
A really good friend will also hold us accountable whenever it looks like we may be tempted to cross that boundary line into sin for any reason.
3. Keep warm: 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? (Two in a bed warm each other. Alone, you shiver all night.)
Just reading this verse brings back vivid memories of an itineration trip we took in 1988. The calendar had not yet passed the date when the residents of Dayton, Ohio turn on the heat in their home. While our dear friends were doing just fine, we were absolutely freezing. When our teeth began to chatter and knees began to knock together, we decided it was time to end our reminiscing and all head for bed. Normally, my colleague and I hugged our own side of the double bed folks usually offered us for the night… so much so that one homeowner told us that she could have put another person between us on the bed!... but not this one night in Dayton! Both of us could hardly wait to get to that double bed and test out the truth of this Scripture! Once our collective body heat had warmed each of us up sufficiently, we moved away to our more familiar edge position. It was, truly, wonderful to find that the verse was true on that cold October night.
4. Defense: 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. (By yourself you're unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst.)
No truer words were ever spoken! When we had to try to sleep through night after night of machine guns firing throughout our neighborhood, some right next to our property, or listen as the mob of hundreds of angry citizens passed near our gate while stones rained down on the roof of the mission’s house so near our solar panels, I was more than a little glad to not be alone! Of course, one more lady would not have made much difference had the mob decided to actually make their way into our home. Having someone with me helped calm my fears as we stormed the gates of Heaven as loud as we could! God answered our prayers that day and none of the stones hit our solar panels. The crowd moved on to dis-assemble some other person’s home. (They were not in residence at the time.)
Okay, but what does Jesus have to say about same gender friendships? Let’s check it out in the Gospel of John, since it is John who was called the Beloved Disciple.
****Same Gender Friendships: A Biblical Perspective, Conclusion… Coming Tomorrow