Summary: Jesus is the truest friend of all.
"A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
- Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)
There is an old story told about a little girl who had been passed from one orphanage to another. She was very shy and felt rather unattractive. The other children would not play with her and her teachers considered her to be a problem child.
In this particular orphanage there was a rule that all outside correspondence had to be screened by the staff. One day the director of the orphanage happened to see the little girl carrying a letter toward the wall that surrounded the institution. She climbed a tree near the wall and hung the envelope on a branch that could be reached from the other side.
The director went outside the gates, took down the letter, and opened it. It simply read, "From Susan. To whomever finds this letter, I love you."
Perhaps you can identify with the loneliness felt by the little girl in this familiar story. If so, you are not alone. In fact, this story resonates with some many people, that singer/sing writer, Mac Davis wrote a popular song about this story, called "Whoever Finds This I Love You."
According to Los Angeles psychiatrist, Dr. Leonard Zunin, despite the fact that the average American meets as many people in one year as their ancestors met in a life time 100 years ago, loneliness is the main problem facing Americans today. Everyone needs friendships.
In this series on True Friendship, we have sought to consider Biblical principles associated with the development of friendships. We have learned that is I am to have friends, I must be a friend.
This is made clear in the King James translation of our text:
"A man that hath friends must show himself friendly" - Proverbs 18:24a (KJV)
But as the alternate translation found in the NIV reveals, one can find that earthly friends can still let us down.
Even those who are our truest friends are subject to limitations that keep them from fulfilling their obligations to us as a friend. Because they are mere mortals, there will always be limits beyond which they cannot go.
But there is One upon whom there are no limitations. He is not subject to those things which may prevent others from always being there for us. He is "a friend who sticks closer than a brother." His name is Jesus. Let’s think about why Jesus is the best friend you could ever have.
1. Jesus will accept you.
Jesus will not reject you.
"All whom My Father gives (entrusts) to Me will come to Me;
and the one who comes to Me I will most certainly not cast out
[I will never, no never, reject one of them who comes to Me]." - John 6:37 (Amplified)
Two important points:
A. Acceptance is not mine by virtue of making myself acceptable.
I am not made acceptable by virtue of my goodness.
"Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done,
so none of us can boast about it." - Ephesians 2:9 (NLT)
"We’re all sin-infected, sin-contaminated.
Our best efforts are grease-stained rags." - Isaiah 64:6a
B. Acceptance is mine by virtue of my accepting Him.
"But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become the children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name." - John 1:12 (Amplified)
How is this possible? Because Jesus has taken care of what was needed to make us acceptable!
Henry Ward Beecher once said that "One should keep a fair-sized cemetery in his back yard in which to bury the faults of his friends."
That’s what Jesus has done with our faults that kept us from being acceptable to God. He has put them to death, He has removed them, He has nailed them to His cross.
"He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross." - Colossians 2:14 (NLT)
Jesus was rejected so that we might be accepted!
I began with the story of a little girl who placed a message on a tree. 2,000 years ago, Jesus did the same thing. His message is the same - "I love you." By His love, He has made it possible for us to be accepted and to have a personal friendship with Him.
2. Jesus will affirm you.
When you accept Jesus, not only will you find acceptance, but you will find affirmation, as well. Jesus never calls anyone to follow Him on the basis of who they are, but on the basis of who He knows they can become by His power! As a result of your relationship, your friendship with Jesus, He will work to bring out the best in you.