[This is a guest post by Pastor Kurt Skelly. Pastor Skelly has been the senior pastor of Harvest Baptist Church since 1996. By God’s enablement, Harvest Baptist Church has seen remarkable growth. Brother Skelly is an engaging Bible preacher and recently preached for our Youth Conference and at Spiritual Leadership Conference. You can follow him on Twitter.]
One of my favorite songs in the hymnal is “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Without reservation, we readily admit that Jesus is a friend to us! But have you ever seriously considered what it means to be a friend to Him?
You might be surprised to know that the Bible provides examples and specific principles to help us understand exactly how to be a friend of God.
1. A friend of God is one who values His presence above all else.
Moses had spent the last forty days alone with God. While there he had received both the law and the rules of worship from God. Imagine his dismay when, upon his return to the camp, he found the people engaged in idolatrous worship and licentious behavior! In fact, were it not for the intercession of Moses, God would have destroyed His people right there in the wilderness.
As it turned out, the Lord refused to lead them any further by His presence. From now on He would merely use an angel to direct their journey.
But Moses refused to accept such a proposition. If the Lord did not travel with them, Moses was staying put! (See Exodus 33:15.) In fact, the conversation Moses shared with the Lord revealed Moses’ supreme desire to know God intimately.
And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.—Exodus 33:11
More than he wanted the Promised Land with all its prospects of stability and fruitfulness, Moses wanted the presence of Almighty God.
Friends of God are they who prioritize their relationship with Him, not allowing the work of God ever to replace the God of the work in their devotion.
2. A friend of God will live a life of faith.
At the foundation of every healthy relationship is trust. Perhaps the greatest expression of my friendship with you is that I trust you no matter what.
Abraham is best noted for his faith in God; in fact, he has been called, “The Father of Faith.”
And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.—James 2:23
Never forget that it is faith that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6). Abraham believed that God would make of him a great nation even when his wife was barren and beyond childbearing years. All he had to go on was the explicit Word of God. Circumstances, biology, and human reasoning shouted their objections to Abraham’s faith.
What has God clearly said to you in His Word that you refuse to put into practice? Perhaps it is tithing, or soulwinning, or extending forgiveness. Friends of God take Him at His Word. They know that God would never ask them to do something that was not mutually beneficial. Because Abraham believed God he was given the timeless label, “Friend of God” (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8).
3. A friend of God is one who joyfully seeks His benefit and advances His agenda.
John the Baptist taught us a great lesson in the waning moments of his public ministry. His own disciples complained that the new ministry of Jesus Christ had eclipsed their own both in popularity and in the sheer number of those baptized. To adjust their carnal thinking, John employed the illustration of a friend—a best man.
He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.—John 3:29
Your true friend would rather that you bask in the limelight, that you receive the compliment, and that you enjoy the credit. The closer one’s relationship with God, the less he will be concerned about personal recognition.
It is enough for God’s friends—and supremely satisfying to them—that God receives the glory! Examine your own heart—is that desire true of you?
4. A friend of God will carefully guard his affections and amusements.
Some friendships simply cannot exist simultaneously.
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.—James 4:4
Wickedness and worship cannot coexist. Friends of God are those whose love for God transcends the allure of a world system with its concomitant lusts and pride (1 John 2:15-17).
Am I a friend of the world or a friend of God? Review your schedule and your priorities. They will tell you the truth about your friendships.
5. A friend of God is privy to special information and is supremely reliable with it.
Think for a moment about your closest friends. They are the ones with whom you can share even the most confidential information. You trust them and know that they will always act in your best interest.
Humanly speaking, the best friends of Jesus were His disciples. With them He shared His deepest thoughts, emotions, and visions. To them He carefully provided instruction and expectation.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.—John 15:13-15
To be a true friend of Christ I must be faithful to the exclusive information He has given me (His Word), and I must be true to keep my commitments to it. Someone once said, “The request of a friend is a royal command.” This statement is never more true than when it applies to the life of the follower of Jesus Christ!
When it comes right down to it, I think most of us would have to admit that we are more acquaintances of God than we are His friends. But what an ideal for which to strive! May God help us to consider these principles, apply their truth, and enjoy their marvelous benefits.