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Monday, June 1, 2020

Friends and Family

By R. W. McAlister

    Friends are such a blessing. When we need a “shoulder to cry on,” as the expression goes, a good friend is often the one to whom we turn. When we need to be cheered up, a good friend is often just the person for the job. Good friends aren’t afraid to tell us when we’re about to make the biggest mistake of our lives, and they continue to love us even if we do.  The wise man wrote, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17), and again, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24).
    A true friend loves in adversity as well as in prosperity. Such is not a “fair-weather friend” and it often it takes hard times to show us which friends are genuinely loyal. D. L. Moody says, “A true friend is like ivy—the greater the ruin, the closer he clings.”
    As Prov. 18:24 points out, gaining friends is dependent upon demonstrating friendliness toward others. He who will be a friend will always meet others eager to reciprocate an attitude of friendliness. Friends, however, will sometimes desert or fail you in the time of need. This reality shouldn’t depress us, for there are true friends (Pr. 17:17) whose commitments will never waver. The true friend is rare, and his devotion often surpasses that of a blood-brother.
    Jesus Christ is such a friend. His devotion to you surpasses that of any blood relative or earthly friend. He was willing to go to Calvary and be nailed to a tree and shed His blood to cover your sins. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus is your friend. The question is: are you His?
    Every friendship must have a foundation, be it common interests, a shared profession, etc. The foundation for friendship with Jesus is obedience. “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (Jn. 15:14). Have you obeyed His commands? Have you shunned man-made religious teachings for the pure truth of the Bible? Have you responded in obedience to the ordinance of baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38)? “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” We mustn’t ignore the conditional nature of this promise of friendship with Jesus.
    Have you ever had a good friend that you wished could be part of your family? That doesn’t often work out in the physical world, but it can in the spiritual. You see, you can not only claim Jesus as your friend, but He can be your brother as well! Isn’t that a thrilling thought – that you could claim Jesus as your brother? Here’s how, in Jesus’ own words: “Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mt. 12:50). Notice again the conditional promise: “whosoever shall do the will of my Father…the same is my brother and sister…”
    The message is clear: in spite of what the majority of the religious world teaches, such things as “faith only” salvation, “once saved always saved,” etc. “Do” in Mt. 12:50 translates the Greek word, “hodos,” which means, “a traveler’s journey; a manner of thinking or deciding.” It means a continuous action – we must always strive to do what the Savior commands. We must always strive to do the will of the Father. Then, and only then, can we enjoy friendship with Christ and be part of His family.
    Dear Reader, have you been made part of God’s family through obedience? If not, why not? Why not claim friendship with Jesus and a place in God’s family? Give it some thought.

- R. W. McAlister preaches for the Anna Church of Christ in Anna, IL.He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.annachurchofchrist.com/

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