One of my dearest friends left our area nearly sixteen years ago. He and his wife moved to Tennessee, where he serves as a Biblical counselor in a medical practice operated by Christian doctors. Tom shares the Lord Jesus Christ and His truth with troubled people referred to him by the physicians, and also helps to teach others how to provide godly and Biblical counsel to hurting hearts.
I share this with you because when Tom and JJ moved away from Mobile, we committed to stay in touch. We had been close friends for a number of years, and greatly enjoyed each other's fellowship. Tom also had been a blessing and help to our family in numerous ways. He is one of those people who will always be there when he knows someone is in need, and we were often the beneficiaries of such grace (remind me to tell you the story of how he found our missing daughter and dog!). So, as Tom left for Tennessee, I surely looked forward to maintaining a close connection. You know how that goes, however. It is easy to commit to staying in touch, but far more difficult to actually do so.
Not for Tom. For more than fifteen years, nearly every Monday and Thursday as he travels to work, he calls me. We spend five minutes or so catching up, talking about the Lord, our families, and sometimes the ministry opportunities we both experience. I look forward to his calls, and take from them not only personal blessing, but also the example of what friendship really means.
"A man that hath friends must show himself friendly" (Proverbs 18:24).
By "friendly," Solomon refers to far more than simply attitude and a kindly manner. He rather speaks of the mutual nature of relationship, namely, that God made human hearts to involve and engage ourselves in communion with Him, and with each other. "We love Him because He first loved us… Love one another" (I John 4:19; John 13:34). As the old saying goes, "to have a friend, we must be a friend." With our Lord, this means He He seeks us, and then we seek Him in response, as led and enabled by the Holy Spirit. "When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face, my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek" (Psalm 63:1). With people, we realize the giving and receiving nature of genuine fellowship. Believers rightly seek to emphasize the giving aspect as the love of Christ constitutes the glory of God and the needs of others as more important than our own - "let each esteem other as better than themselves" (Philippians 2:3). However, we may also properly expect to receive in every true relationship if that bond is to be all our Heavenly Father intends it to be. This is especially true and necessary in our walk with Him. And it also characterizes all true friendship.
Tom clearly knows this. He practices it. So, our fellowship and friendship in Christ endures to the glory of God and surely my personal blessing (haven't figured out yet what Tom receives in the matter!). I am grateful for my dear brother and friend, and for this opportunity to let his example encourage all of us to devote ourselves more fully to our walk with the Lord and with people. We were made for this, and as the Spirit of the Lord Jesus walks in us, we will seek to engage ourselves as fully as possible in every gift of fellowship He provides whereby we seek to give, and rejoice as we receive.
(P.S. - a further point. A number of you who receive these messages were referred to them by Tom. So you know by personal experience the blessing of his friendship).
"Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name."
(III John 1:14
Weekly Memory Verse
"A man that hath friends must show himself friendly."