Proverbs 18:24, "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."
God has put within the heart of mankind the desire to have friends. Friends are those who speak kindly to you. Friends are those who affectionately care for you. Friends are those who remain by your side devotedly. Friends are those who will tell you the truth.
God has put within your heart this warm desire, this fervent desire to have friends. This desire has been there since the time you were born. It was there when you were a child, a teenager, a young person, and now as an adult.
The desire to have friends is a desire to have something which is wonderful, pure, and God-given. Friendship is a wonderful blessing which God has blessed us with which we can enjoy throughout our lives. At every point and place in your life you can enjoy the rich bounty of friendship. God has made it such. He has enabled you to have friends and to continue to enjoy friendship.
One who is friendless is seen as a sad figure. One who is lonely sits in a shadow. One, who sits alone, sits alone as if in a dark corner. The child at school who no one sits with at lunch time is a sad scene. The teenager whom everyone avoids breaks the heart of those who know the joys of friendship. The young person or adult who separates themselves from society is the result of something has gone awry and something has been broken.
The verse we have read today has no shadows with it. In the verse we have read there are only rays of sunshine and the warm of the sun in it. There are no sullen tones, not a stroke of gray upon the canvas. There are no minor or eerie sounding notes, but clear, resounding and upbeat melodies. This man is a man that hath friends!
For an individual to have friends they must show themselves friendly. They must extend unto others friendly qualities to establish friendship. Friendship is built on initially being friendly. It would be quite odd and strange for you and me to gain friends by being rude.
There was a popular restaurant in Chicago which was known for something quite out of the ordinary. Typically, restaurants which are well attended and frequently visited are known for their superior and stellar service and outstanding food. This was not the case with this restaurant. The thing which made this restaurant stand alone was their rude service. Yes, you heard me correctly. They were known for their rude service.
Actually, their service was probably better described as purposefully rude. The restaurant’s service was patterned after their founder’s mentality of, “If you like what you’re eatin’ order more. If you don’t, there’s the door.” You would not hear a whole lot of please’s and thank you’s. It just was not that kind of place. Patrons were drawn to the restaurant because of this rude service.
While this restaurant may have gained quite a following by providing rude service, a man that gains friends must do so through the means of kindness, affection, and care. A man that hath friends must initially gain through mutual kindness.
This verse is really not giving us the recipe for gaining friends. This verse is not establishing principles needed for starting new friendships. This verse is for maintaining friendships. It gives Biblical wisdom on how to maintain friendships which are already established. It says, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly…”
Certainly if you are not friendly towards others you will have no friends. Friendships are established, begun, with mutual kindness, courtesy, and care. However, if you look carefully at this verse, we will see that friendships must not just be planted, but maintained.
A garden which produces an abundance of fruits and vegetables must be planted. Planting seeds is not the end of gardening as you well know. Planting is just the first step of many days to come. For a garden to produce an abundance of fruits and vegetables, is must be maintained.
When the Lord put Adam into the Garden of Eden, his job and responsibility was to dress it and keep it. In order for it to produce as it should there was some common maintenance which needed to be done. God planted it and God had Adam care for the garden He planted.
In like manner, a friendship, which can produce and yield an abundance of crops, must be maintained. It is first planted. Absolutely, without planting the seeds of friendship, there will be no friendships whatsoever. After the seeds have been planted, there must be regular maintenance, if you will.
I do not wish for you to think by my use of the word, “maintenance,” of something dreadful and irksome. When I say maintenance I do not want you to think of that list you have at home of things which have not gotten done because you really do not feel like doing them. Maintenance of friendships is not like that list of to do’s that you don’t want to do. As we will see from this Bible verse, maintenance of friendships is enjoyable. It is not the backbreaking chore of pulling weeds.
Let’s look closer at God’s Word, at this Bible verse, and learn how it is that we are to maintain the friendships God has blessed us with.
Be frequently friendly.
First of all, to maintain our friendships, we must be frequently friendly. The Word of the Lord says, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly…”
The phrase, “…must shew himself friendly…” speaks of ongoing regularity. Showing one’s self friendly unto others is an ongoing action with regularity.
A man that has a friend or friends must towards that friend continually show the qualities and demonstrate the actions he performed to gain the friend to maintain the established friendship. In other words, you continually do what you did initially.
When you gained a friend that friendship began with kindness. It began with courtesy. It began with respect. It began with kind speech. It began with courteous actions. It began with respect of one another’s time and space.
God expresses that the way you started your friendships is how you continue them. You began with being friendly and you maintain it by frequent friendliness. What was in the beginning should be frequently throughout the friendship.
A friendship which begins with kindness, courtesy, and respect and does not continue with these, fails to remain a friendship. It is terribly awful that some have deceitfully made these things present so as to establish a friendship with the intent to remove them after the friendship began.
In the introduction of the Bible we are introduced to God, the Creator of the world. As we turn through the pages of the Bible, we find what was in the beginning, the presence of the Creator of this world. Who was in the beginning is in the middle. Who was in the beginning is in the end. He is in the beginning and He is throughout.
A man that hath friends must show himself friendly. To be the friend God wants you to be, you must frequently show yourself friendly unto your friends. There should be a regular frequency to your kindness. Often there should be kind words. The presence of courtesy and respect should be there from day to day.
There is another means which this Scripture gives to maintain friendship.
Be fully friendly.
Second of all to maintain our friendships, we must be fully friendly. The Word of the Lord says, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly…”
It certainly is a blessing that the Lord does not limit an individual’s capacity for friendship to one. Inside most public places, especially restaurants, somewhere on the wall there is a plaque which will read, “Seating capacity: 100.” They state how many can safely occupy that room and the building. If the Lord were to put a plaque upon our lives regarding friendship, it would read, “Friendship capacity: unlimited.”
An individual can have friends. If one flower’s fragrance is sweet imagine what a field of flowers would smell like? We could declare this morning the blessing of God in our lives if the Lord would allow us the ability to have just one friend. But, God has not limited us to just one raindrop of His blessing. He has enabled us to enjoy showers of His blessings. You can have friends!
A man that hath friends must show himself friendly. A single individual who has friends must show their self friendly to all of those considered friends. There is a great responsibility of maintaining friendships. A single one is not to be abandoned, but each one is to be cared for.
This year is the first year our family has planted a garden. In our little plot we have planted six rows of vegetables. There are six rows which we have planted and there are six rows which we must maintain. To plant six rows and to maintain only one would be senseless, for we have planted six. Planting six rows requires the maintenance of six rows of vegetables. The rows we have planted are the rows we will maintain.
Such are the friendships in your life. If you have six friends then you must maintain friendliness to those six. You say, “I do not wish to maintain six friends.” Then, if God so leads, plant just a small plot, have a few friends. Whatever the amount is, maintain all of them. If they be called friends, then you maintain that friendship. You must remain fully friendly.
Time, distance, and changes in life (views and beliefs) often tugs upon friendships and sometimes almost completely dissolves them. Where time, distance, and beliefs separate friends, God requires no maintenance. But, those friends who still are close by and within your circle, continue be friendly with each and every one of them.
Spend time with each of them. Be kind to each of them. Be respectful and courteous to every one of them. He that hath friends must shew himself friendly. There is one final truth from this verse which applies to our maintaining of friendships.
Be firmly friendly.
Last of all, to maintain our friendships, we must be firmly friendly. The Word of the Lord says, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”
In the Book of Proverbs when within the middle of a single verse you read the word, “and,” know that either a comparison is being made or a further explanation of the first part is given in the second part.
In the verse we have read we have the word, “and,” in the middle. The second part of this verse is further describing the man that hath friends. The second part of this verse, a friend that sticketh closer than a brother, is further describing what a man that hath friends must do. Another quality of an individual that has friends is that he will be firmly friendly. He will stick to his friends closer than a brother would.
If you are blessed to have siblings, if you are blessed to have siblings whom you consider friends, they are such first because of the relationship which has been established biologically. You may have chosen them as a friend if they had not been a brother or a sister, but they were first your brother or your sister.
Nothing can change the relationship of siblings. They are brothers and sisters for life. They are bound in that relationship with biological bonds and duty. In a friendship, there is also a binding, but the binds which are in friendship are not through biology or duty, but through choice and love.
The last way to maintain your friendships is by being firmly friendly. You are to determine to keep your friendships. You are to be resolved to maintain your friendships. This sticking closer is adhering to or cleaving to.
In friendships, like any other relationships, there will be things from within and from without that will place a strain upon the relationship. Friendships which are formed according to God’s will are not to be quickly forsaken. In Proverbs 27:10, the Bible says, “Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not…”
You will need to have some resolve in the friendships you are allowed to enjoy. You will need to have some determination that it will continue. A friend that sticketh closer than a brother points to this firmness in friendship. You are going to cleave to your friend. You are not going to forsake them. You are going to be their friend through thick and thin.
God has placed within our hearts the desire for friends. This morning, you find this desire in your heart. You want friends. To have friends you must first be friendly. You will not gain a friend by being rude, but by being kind, courteous, and respectful unto others.
Then, after the Lord has blessed with the friends He desires for you to have, maintain those friendships. Maintain them by being frequently friendly, fully friendly, and firmly friendly.