September 17, 2008

Joy in Friendships

Philippians 2:19-30

I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare.
Philippians 2:20


Perhaps you are in a time of emotional discouragement and need a word of encouragement. Maybe you feel like a spiritual orphan and need some gracious assurance. Do you long for a voice of hope as you mourn the untimely death of a child? In difficult times, true friends are essential.

A true friend is one who is ready to help, comfort, and stand by another, especially in times of adversity. But a true friend is also discerning. A friend asks hard questions, confronts falsehood, and demands truth. Ultimately, this kind of honesty can be the best soil for encouragement, assurance, and hope.

This is what Paul saw and experienced in two friends. Timothy was a friend who was like a son to Paul “in the work of the gospel” of Christ, and Epaphroditus was like a brother, serving as a “fellow worker” and “fellow soldier” in the cause of Christ. Paul welcomed these friends with joy because they shared a genuine Christ-centered interest in the well-being of others.

The most dependable friend, however, is Jesus. As the friend of sinners, he is always ready to help, comfort, and stand by those who turn in repentance to him. His help is always encouraging, his comfort is assuring, and his presence is the foundation of hope. All who trust in Jesus can be called “God’s friend” (James 2:23).

Dear Lord, thank you for sending Jesus, our Savior and Friend. Enable us, we pray, to help, comfort, and stand by each other, as he has done with us. In his name, Amen.

About the author — Calvin Hoogendoorn

Rev. Calvin Hoogendoorn serves as senior pastor of First Christian Reformed Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Previously he served two churches in Illinois. He and his wife, Carla, have three daughters.

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