12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. (John 15:12–14, NKJV)
Jesus commanded His apostles to love one another as He had loved them. This commandment is equally given to every Christian (1 Jno. 4:21). We are to walk in love as Christ loved us (Eph. 5:2). We know love because He laid down His life for us. Therefore, “We also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 Jno. 3:16). Jesus Christ died for every person because we have all sinned (Rom. 3:23; 5:8; Col. 1:19-23). There is no greater love than His voluntary, sacrificial death. Jesus said we must do “whatever He commands” to be His friend (v. 14). That includes loving one another, but it does not stop there. Jesus taught much more than loving one another. He commissioned His apostles to teach disciples “to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). So, when we trust Jesus and do what His apostles command us, we are friends of Jesus. Abraham was “the friend of God” because he believed God and obeyed Him (Jas. 2:21-24). Faith in and friendship with Jesus means far more than a mental agreement of who He is and what He has done. Friendship with Jesus is far more than asking Him into your heart to be your Savior. Are you doing whatever He commands you? When you do, you are His friend, saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9; Heb. 5:9). Be a friend to Jesus. Obey whatever He commands.
13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. (John 15:13–14, NKJV)
The sacrificial quality of love is unsurpassed. It is this love that prompted the death of Jesus and provided the world our only means of redemption (Romans 5:8-10; 1 John 4:8-10). The question for us to ponder is whether we have the love it takes to be a friend of Jesus. We hear much about needing Jesus as our friend. True, and He has shown the measure of His loving friendship by His death. Now, do we show the measure of our friendship to Him? We are not His friends when we disobey Him. It is quite ironic that many who speak loud and long about being friends with Jesus refuse His clear commands. For example, many reject His command to believe and be baptized to be saved in Mark 16:16, and yet claim friendship with Him. How can that be? Indeed, they say any necessary obedience nullifies God’s grace. If true, then we cannot be a friend to Jesus without denying His word and His grace! Our plea is to return to the simple harmony of gospel of salvation by grace, through faith. Salvation is an unearned, yet conditional gift (Ephesians 2:8-9). God receives sinners when we fear God and work righteousness; the gift is thus received (Acts 10:34-35). Are you a friend to Jesus? That is answered “yes” when you obey Him in faith.
Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4, NKJV)
Whose friend are you – God’s, or the world’s? The world is the system of evil that opposes God and His will (1 John 2:15-17). A Christian cannot join hands with the world, doing and endorsing what the world does, without becoming God’s enemy. Simple as that. James uses adultery to make the point. The world celebrates adultery. When husbands and wives commit adultery, the world calls it a “love affair,” but there is nothing loving about it. The entertainment industry (movies, television, the internet, etc.) celebrates adultery. The porn industry persuades it. But, God is very clear: The sin of adultery is not a love affair, it is a lust affair (James 4:1-3; Hebrews 13:4). Jesus said, “You are My friends, if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). The worldly-minded do not love Jesus, because they do not obey Jesus. They are driven by selfish desires. They are God’s enemies. Do not be counted among them. “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them” (Ephesians 5:6-7).
“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, so a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend.” (Proverbs 27:9, NASB95)
One of the blessings of true friend is their counsel and advice. When your soul is heavy, a friend offers guidance that will lift it heavenward. A good friend does not always tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear. Cherish such a friend. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Prov. 27:6). Better to be wounded by a friend’s godly advice, than to be coddled and flattered by deceptive encouragement. When someone is more interested in supporting you in sinful attitudes or conduct, that is not a true friend. Friends do not have a hidden agenda; your soul is their agenda. They speak the truth to you, not because it is always easy, but because it is right and is the best for you (Eph. 4:25). If you want a friend who gladdens your heart, then be that kind of friend to others. “A man who has friends must himself be friendly” (Prov. 18:24).
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (Proverbs 27:6, NKJV)
True friends tell us what we need to hear, when we need to hear it. They know the difference between sparing our feelings and watching us make dreadful mistakes that damage our lives and our souls. Friends have our best interest at heart, and give us sound counsel, even when it brings a momentary pain (wound). Such a friendship is forged in the crucible of life’s trials, its joys and sorrow, its pain and grief. That is the friend we need. That is the friend we ought to be to others. Feigning care and concern, while paving a path of deceit in order to gain an advantage over someone, is not the action of a true friend. The next time your friend tells you what you need to hear – even though it is painful to hear – thank them for it. They are a true friend. The world needs more of their number.
1 Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? … 3 He who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend; (Psalm 15:1, 3, NKJV)
It is a transgression to speak maliciously against another person. Turning those words into evil actions multiplies the wrong. Evil words and evil deeds prevent fellowship with the Holy One of Israel. Whether the neighbor is an ordinary citizen or a more intimate acquaintance matters not; evil behavior is forbidden. Jesus said to treat others as we wish to be treated by them (Matt. 7:12). Equally destructive is a scornful criticism against a friend. We harm and hinder our fellowship with God when we spread ill reports about others. Israel was warned against circulating false reports, and God promised the destruction of the person who secretly slanders a neighbor (Exo. 23:1; Psa. 101:5). Our moral and ethical treatment of others is a condition for being received into God’s presence (where His perpetual care comforts the weary traveler).
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24, ESV)
This is not a warning against making friends. Rather, it is a reminder to choose our friends carefully, for they will either contribute to our ruin or be a stalwart companion in time of trouble. A multitude of friends may indicate one is indiscriminate, unable to discern a genuine friend from an opportunist. Godly friendships are valuable and require trust. Loyal friends are a true blessing as they share their qualities of kindness, goodness, godliness and righteousness with us. A true friend does not lead us into the trouble, pain and spiritual death of sin. A real friend encourages us to think soberly, choose wisely, speak kindly and live honestly. Let us nurture godly friendships with others by being such a friend to others.
5 Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (Proverbs 27:5-6)
An open rebuke, designed to warn us of our error and sin, is preferred over professed love that remains silent when it sees us in danger. We are led to believe that true love will not reprimand another person, yet genuine love will not withhold wise rebuke. Being rebuked may hurt for a moment, but a true friend knows its temporary pain can produce a good outcome. So, when a friend rebukes your sin do not become angry, be thankful for their love. That is the friend who truly loves you. Feigned love remains silent and acts out of self-interest. True love knows what sin does to its friend, and so brings a rebuke intended to save the soul (read James 5:19-20). To pretend to love while refusing to rebuke sin is the action of an enemy, not a friend.