John 15:13 “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.”
The bar is way too low on the standard of friendships in America and even among Christians. In a life where we are “tossed to and fro by the winds”, gospel centered friendship is the most important thing that matters. The Proverbs say “a friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in the time of need.” They also say “There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” The preacher Solomon, the wisest man of all time says “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.” According to God’s word, friendship is not something to be taken lightly…AT ALL.
There is a phrase we have all heard before, on the football field, on the hard-wood, in the trenches of war, in a battle for cancer, and it is this: “I got your back!” Those four words are personal, preferable, passion-filled, and demand persistence. As disciples of Jesus we have an obligation to be the greatest friends. We should be marked by Jesus’ words in the book of John, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.” Do you read over that verse and view it as just another phrase Jesus said, or something he sincerely commands? If Jesus said this, it is a fact not an opinion. Jesus raises the bar on our lives as disciples. It is a life marked by love, mercy, grace, and protection. What kind of friend are you? What kind of friend do you have? Can you or anyone around you say, “I got your back!”
There are four advantages in friendship we see in Ecclesiastes for when we “lay down our lives” for our friends and say, “I Got Your Back!”
- Success in Life – Ecclesiastes 4:9 “Two friends are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.”
Friends help each other win in life. Friends can see things in your life that you may be over looking. Our blind spots become bigger the more we are alone and feel like we can go at life alone. Isolation is a damaging thing, because in those moments we feel we have no one and no fulfillment. Friends are there to encourage you when you are going through a tough time. Friends are there to motivate you when you lack drive. Friends can be better than you at something, and that’s OK because you are better than them at something. Good friends are compatible and competitive. We lay down our lives to discern when, how, and where to meet our friends need. We desire that they win!
2. Shouldering the Load – Ecclesiastes 4:10 – “If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”
The roads of Palestine back in Solomon’s day were full of pot holes, pits, and were rugged. When you cannot see at night time, without street lights, it was almost stupid to walk at night alone. Shouldering is carrying a burden for someone It is picking up someone when they are knocked down. Laying down your life may look like accountability. Ephesians says “we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ who is the head of his body, the church.” It is helping a brother or sister out when they have fallen. Now, if we need assistance when we physically fall, how much more so do we need a shouldering partner when we are burdened spiritually?
Shouldering guides two things:
- Men need men to fight out of temptation. Pornography and affairs are running rampant through Christian men. Getting each other’s back means we fight the world, the devil, and flesh off together!
- Women need women to spur one another in their contentment in God’s absolute approval of them.
- Perseverance: We cannot grow in our faith without community. We persevere when the Church body believes they are family and accountable to one another. The longevity of life is determined by the community we have around us. The body of believers love each other till death.
3. Sustaining with Comfort – Ecclesiastes 4:11 – “Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone?”
Real friends inconvenience themselves for the sake of others. Our friends need comfort, and laying down our lives will look like giving up your jacket when it’s cold when they are freezing; offering money in support to help foot a bill; offering a place to stay for a person who needs to be around people; allowing them to cry on your shoulder and vent about the struggles they are having; seeing them at their worse and being present anyways. We sustain friendships with comfort.
4. Strengthening during the Battle – Ecclesiastes 4:12 – “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple braided cord is not easily broken”
We all know life is a battle for real, and without friends to have our back when Satan is never sleeping, sin is never ceasing, and temptation is always creeping, we are sure to fail! Solomon knows how much it is important to never walk alone knowing you can be conquered. I’m sure Solomon would have gone back in the times where he failed and wished he would have had someone strengthening him in battle. That is why he calls isolation vanity and meaningless. A battle cannot be won alone! What do you do when your friend texts you at 2:00 am and needs to talk? Where are you when your best friend has lost a loved one and feels absolutely defeated? Even when your friend tells you he or she doesn’t need anyone, while they cry and sniff, do you back down and use that as an excuse or do you show up anyways, proving to them that fighting the battle together is non-negotiable?
Two questions for you to ponder in conclusion:
- Who’s back do you have?
- Who’s got your back?
Your friendship to someone could be the difference between life and death. And vice versa.