How To Be A Friend

Bible Book: Proverbs  18 : 24
Subject: Friendship; Kindness; Unity; Cooperation; Love; Understanding

Proverbs 18:24

Years ago, Pepper Rodgers was having a terrible season as head coach at UCLA. He was getting a lot of criticism, from the press, the alumni and even his wife. Pepper said, "My dog was my only friend. When I told my wife that a man needs at least two friends, she went out and bought me another dog."

Why do we need friends?

Charles Kingsley wrote, "It is a blessed thing for any man or woman to have a friend; one human soul whom we can trust utterly; who knows the best and the worst of us, and who loves us in spite of all our faults; who will speak the honest truth to us, while the world flatters us to our face, and laughs at us behind our back; who will give us counsel and reproof in the day of prosperity and self-conceit; but who will comfort and encourage us in the day of difficulty and sorrow." In short, "A friend is one who walks in when the world walks out."

Solomon said, "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Prov. 18:24).

For two thousand years, untold num­bers of preachers have delivered untold numbers of sermons; but their listeners still can't live together peacefully. In this world of conflicts, there's only one real problem, and that's people! Almost all problems stem from people and their feelings! It's petty things like insecurities and fears and laziness and ignorance that slows progress. Christ said if something is a hindrance, get rid of it! "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you . . ." (Matt. 5:29).

Therefore, if a touchy ego is a problem, why don't we "get rid of it?" Life could be so pleasant if everyone was kind and tolerant instead of hostile and touchy.

When it comes to basic Christianity, getting along with others is the only issue. "You shall love the Lord your God. . . This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, `You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two command­ments depend the whole Law and the Prophets" (Matt. 22:37-40).

Everything else is subordinate to this. Heretical beliefs and lax morality are not even mentioned. Christ knew those things will take care of themselves if we get ourselves right. We're told to "love our enemies"; but most of us need to start practicing on our friends.

How can we do that?

I. First, We Can Quit Nit-Picking

Some of Christ's bluntest commands concern our big mouths.  "You have heard that the ancients were told, `You shall not commit murder'. . . But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, `Raca,' shall be guilty before the supreme court . . ." (Matt 5:21-22).

Bitterness and put-downs and name calling are deadly to spiritual development. Someone said, "Apologizing for a nasty remark is like trying to unscramble an egg." The damage can't be undone. Paul said, "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another . . ." (Rom. 12:10).

As Christians, we will not be offended if someone else gets credit for our accomplishments. "Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to his edification" (Rom. 15:1-2).

As Christians we will not take things personally. We will treat immature associates with the same patience and understanding we have for little chil­dren. "Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant. . . is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suf­fered," (I Cor. 13:4-5).

As Christians, we won't keep a list of the wrongs done to us or let our "ruffled feathers" affect our relationships. Paul says, "Live in peace with one another and. . . be patient with all men. . . always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men" (I Thess. 5:13-15).

James said, "If. . . you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, `You shall love your neighbor as yourself'. . ." (James 2:8).

Peter said, "To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead … Let him … refrain his tongue from evil … Let him seek peace  …" (1 Peter 3:8-11).

John said, "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 John 4:11,21).

II. Next, We Can Quit Finger-Pointing.

Jesus warned us about poking our noses into things that aren't our business and judging is never our business!

Christ said, "Tend to your­selves!" That's what he was saying when he said, "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye" (Matt. 7:3-5).

We are not capable of judging because we don't have all the facts. This poem says it well:

“Please don't find fault with those who limp,

Or stumble on the road,

Unless you've worn the shoes they wear;

Or struggled with their load.

There may be tacks that hurt their feet,

Tho' hidden from our view.

Who knows, the burdens on their backs,

Might make you stumble too.

Don't sneer at those who're down and out,

Unless you've felt the blow,

That caused their fall or felt the shame

That only they can know.” (Poem by Rama Muthukrishnan)

Christ had to remind Peter of this principle. "He said to him, `Simon, do you love Me?' Peter was grieved and said to Him, `Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.' Jesus said to him, `Tend My sheep. Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them. Peter therefore said to Jesus, `Lord, and what about this man?' Jesus said to him, `If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!' " (John 21:17,20-22).

You see, when Christ pointed out Peter's responsibility, he quickly evaded by changing the subject. We are like that too!

Judging others, for some reason, gives us a feeling of smug superiority; but it is wrong. Only God is qualified to judge. Besides, the person with the most problems is the person who is the most critical of others. Such people spend their lives looking for something wrong instead of something right.

A certain preacher had a effective method of dealing with critical Christians. He kept a "Complaint Book" in his desk. When a member came to tell him of another's faults, he would say, "Okay, here's my `Complaint Book.' I'll write down what you say, and you can sign your name to it. Then I'll take it up with our brother." Invariably the critic would stammer, and backtrack, and protest, "Oh, no! I couldn't sign anything like that!" The preacher said in forty years, he has opened his "Complaint Book" thousands of times, but he's never written a thing in it. So, if you aren't willing to write down and sign your name to those ugly things you say about others, you'd better just leave judgment to God

III. Finally, We Can Quit Bellyaching

Jesus never said, "Blessed are the grumblers and gripers and whiners and complainers." On one occa­sion, "Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him, and said, `Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.' But the Lord answered and said to her, `Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her' " (Luke 10:40-42).

On another occasion, "Someone in the crowd said to Him, `Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.' But He said to him, `Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbiter over you?' And He said to them, `Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions' " (Luke 12:13-15).

On still another occasion the mother of James and John approached Jesus, "And He said to her, `What do you wish?' She said to Him, `Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left.' And hearing this, the ten became indignant with the two brothers.  But Jesus called them to Himself, and said, `You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant' " (Matt. 20:21,24-26).

In each of these cases, Christ totally ignored the complaints and zeroed in on the complainers. He knew that is always where the problem lies! We tend to see in others the problems that plague us. We tend to condemn in others the sins that affect us. In short, we reveal our own weaknesses every time we point a finger or react in a defensive manner!

Friends don't nit-pick or finger-point or bellyache. The worst thing about nit-picking, finger-pointing, and bellyaching is that they are contagious. We have all seen how one defective, broken down car on a narrow bridge can clog up traffic and inconve­nience motorists. It's the same in church and in life. One insecure, touchy member can affect the entire congregation and the entire world.


Once a Christian heard that a certain man had been criticizing him. So, he went to the critic and said, "Please be kind enough to tell me my faults personally so that I may correct them." The talebearer was surprised, but he finally agreed. Then the Christian said, "But, first, will you lead us in a prayer that I may be able to eliminate the flaws that you reveal to me?" After prayer, the Christian said, "Now tell me what you've noted in my life that disturbs you so much." The critic shook his head and said, "You know, after praying about them, they look so petty that they're not worth talking about."

That is usually the case. Friends do not nit-pick, finger-point or bellyache. Friends accept, approve and appreciate each other. Let's be friends!