.

ON FRIENDSHIP.

"A true companion is loving all the time, and is a brother 
  that  is
 born  for  when  there  is  distress."
 (Prov 17:17).

But how do we identify a true companion? Christ Jesus set us the example to follow. He said: "This is my commandment, that you should love one another just as I have loved you. No one has love greater than this, that someone should surrender his soul in behalf of his friends. You are my friends if you do what I am commanding you." (John 15:12-14). It therefore follows that if anyone says: ""I love God," and yet is hating his brother, he is a liarů And this commandment we have from him, that the one who loves God should be loving his brother also." (1 John 4:20,21). Christ also said: "If there is this love among you, then all will know that you are my disciples." (John 13:35 NEB). So the first requirement is that we must love God by obeying His commandments through The Christ. Only then may we truly be Christ's disciples and companions to our brothers in the faith.

A TRUE COMPANION: "LOVING ALL THE TIME".
How does a true companion show love? The apostle Paul wrote: "Love is patient; love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude; never selfish, not quick to take offence. Love keeps no score of wrongs; does not gloat over other men's sins, but delights in the truth. There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and its endurance." (1 Cor 13:4-7 NEB). In order that we live at peace with one another, we are urged to "admonish the careless, encourage the faint-hearted, support the weak, and to be very patient with them all. See to it that no one pays back wrong for wrong, but always aim at doing the best you can for each other and for all men."  (1 Thess 5:14,15 NEB).

A BROTHER: "BORN FOR WHEN THERE IS DISTRESS."
But how may we be a brother "born for when there is distress"?  Distress can take many forms. It can be extreme pain or suffering, sorrow or misfortune, a want of money or necessities. The apostle James wrote: "If a brother or a sister is in a naked state and lacking the food sufficient for the day, yet a certain one of you says to them: "Go in peace, keep warm and well fed," but you do not give them the necessities for their body, of what benefit is it?" (James 2:15,16). It follows then that "if a man has enough to live on, and yet when he sees his brother in need shuts up his heart against him, how can it be said that love for God dwells in him?" (1 John 3:17 NEB & footnote). Therefore, if we see a brother or a sister in need, we must help them as we would our own natural brothers and sisters.

FALSE FRIENDS.
How may one identify false friends? Well, they may be all smiles when you are happy, but "turn against you when trouble comes". They may "desert you in time of trouble", and betray your confidences. But "the betrayer of secrets loses his credit and can never find an intimate friend. Love your friend and keep faith with him, but if you betray his secrets, keep out of his way". (See Ecclesiasticus 6:8, 37:4 & 27:16,17 NEB)

IN CONCLUSION.
"If then our common life in Christ yields anything to stir the heart, any loving consolation, any sharing of the Spirit, any warmth of affection or compassion, fill up my cup of happiness by thinking and feeling alike, with the same love for one another, the same turn of mind, and a common care for unity."  (Phil 2:1,2 NEB).

C. B. Thomas.
1986 & 12/11/11.

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