Jonathan (the son of king Saul) and David were dear friends. Jonathan did not see David as a threat, far from it. Their souls were knit together, even closer than brothers (Prov. 18:24). Friendship is a marvelous blessing to be cultivated and nurtured. Like Jonathan and David, friends are more than neighbors. Friends are familiar, trusted, and devoted as they share life (1 Sam. 18:3-4; Ps. 41:9). Jonathan and David’s friendship was strong due to their common mind and faith. Their love for one another was great (1 Sam. 18:3-4; 2 Sam. 1:25-26). When Jonathan’s father Saul threatened David’s life, Jonathan endangered himself to protect his friend (1 Sam. 20:4, 16-42). Facebook may say you have many “friends,” but the Bible defines true friendship differently. Consider the following: (1) A friend gives sound counsel even when it hurts. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Prov. 27:6). A friend does not try to manipulate you. A friend’s counsel may hurt, but its goal is to help us, and so, “the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel” (Prov. 27:9). (2) Choose your friends carefully. “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Prov. 12:26). Like Jonathan and David, a shared faith will see you and your friend through life’s trials (1 Sam. 20:12-17). Friends can also hinder your faithfulness to God (1 Cor. 15:33). Choose wisely. (3) Be a friend to Jesus. “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). Jesus will be your true friend. Are you His? Obey Him and it will be so.
4 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. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? (James 4:4–5, NKJV)
One cannot help but see the parallel of apostasy for the sake of covetous pleasures with the actual sin of adultery (Jas. 4:1-3). The inspired writer openly rebukes Christians who befriend the world (v. 4; 1 Jno. 2:15-16). They have conflicts with others, and their ultimate conflict is with God. The danger of unfaithfulness to the Lord and the blessing of faithful devotion to Him are described by the psalmist, “For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish; You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry. But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Your works” (Psa. 73:27-28). God is a jealous God who yearns intensely that we honor Him for His glory and faithfulness (v. 5; Gen. 6:5; Exo. 20:4-6). When we spurn Him for other pleasures (false gods) we provoke His jealous wrath. Yet, He will give grace and forgive us when we humble ourselves, submit to Him, resist the devil, and draw near to Him by purifying our hands and hearts (Jas. 4:6-8). We cannot be faithful to God while being unfaithful against Him with the world. Faithfully following God marks true friendship with Him, but unfaithfulness makes us His enemy (Jas. 2:22-23).
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).
24 Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, 25 Lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul. (Proverbs 22:24–25, NKJV)
Just as good influences encourage us to reach greater heights of holiness, evil influences set traps that will endanger our souls. One such trap is the bad influence of the angry, furious person. Friendship with a person who does not control his or her temper will surely draw you into complicity and compromise with the fury. And, it can even begin to produce within you the same sort of anger actions and reactions. To resist the angry man’s wrath that he expresses toward others will sooner or later, make you the object of his wrath, too. Better to identify this evil influence and avoid it, rather than thinking you can befriend it without being affected by it. Why expose yourself to forces that hinder your holiness? If you are holding anger in your heart, release it through repentance, and replace it with the godly qualities of kindness, humility and love.
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.
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.