The Friends We Need (Part 2)
May 16 2023 - Eric Buresh
Today, I’d like to connect few strings from recent posts: The Friends We Need (https://visitgracechurch.com/blog/494) and The Great Enemy of Rest (https://visitgracechurch.com/blog/507). In the latter, we looked at Hebrews 3-4 and saw that unbelief (or a lack of dependent faith) is the great enemy of our spiritual rest. One other thing I wanted to separately draw out from that passage is the importance of our friends in helping us fight unbelief and maintain our rest in God. In the middle of the warning against unbelief, the author of Hebrews exclaims, “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today!” Hebrews 3:12-13.
This daily exhortation toward faith, toward belief, toward a true rest in God’s sovereign control and goodness is at the heart of what it means to be “the friends we need” for each other. We help each other fight the fight of faith. One of the fundamental means of God’s provision of grace in our lives is each other. We really, really, really need to develop these kinds of friendships. I can’t emphasize enough how important exhorting friendships have been for my growth in the faith. To neglect relationships of this type is incredibly dangerous. It is exceedingly hard to fare well in battle against a powerful and cunning enemy all by your lonesome self.
God was both wise and kind to give us useful examples in His Word so that we can learn and practice by imitation. God gave us the story of David and Jonathan as an example of the Friends We Need. These two men were a model of close friendship. “The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” 1 Samuel 18:1. Their lives were bound together, and they endured many hardships together. The heart of their friendship was powerfully pictured when David’s faith faltered under continued pursuit by Saul: “So David feared because Saul had come out to seek his life. And David was in the Wilderness of Ziph in a forest. Then Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God.” 1 Samuel 23:15-16.
Jonathan strengthened David’s “hand in God” when David’s faith was faltering. Brothers and sisters, this is a simple picture of one friend exhorting another toward faith when unbelief was creeping in, creating fear, and depriving David of his rest in God. And that happens from time to time in every one of us. No one is so strong as to be beyond the need for daily exhortation. David was strong and deep in his faith, but David needed Jonathan’s exhortation. It takes effort to have this type of friendship. Jonathan was not “on his way” to the Wilderness of Ziph. He had to decide and spend his time and resources to go out of his way to exhort David. Real friends purposefully invest their time in their friends. There is no other way. And, don’t miss this, real friends know that they are not the ultimate source of greater strength. They are mere conduits. Ambassadors of God’s strength. Jonathan strengthened David in God. This is so important. We are not creating dependencies on each other, but mutually exhorting toward dependency on God.
Let’s go exhort one another daily, while it is called Today! Let Grace Church be a place of ever increasing faith spurred on by The Friends We Need!