Editor’s Note: The AMI Quiet Times for March 7th-8th are provided by Andrew Kim of Radiance Christian Church.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
1 Samuel 14:4-7
4 On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff; one was called Bozez and the other Seneh. 5 One cliff stood to the north toward Mikmash, the other to the south toward Geba. 6 Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” 7 “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”
When I think of Jonathan, the first word that comes to my mind is “friendship.” Biblically speaking, we know Jonathan was the best friend of David, but even in this passage, we see that friendship was a vital part of Jonathan’s leadership style. It’s not difficult to get people to follow you using force, positional power, or even fear and intimidation, but it is entirely a different matter to have people give you their heart and soul. Clearly, there was something special about Jonathan that attracted people’s undivided friendship and loyalty. Even when faced with an impossible situation where Jonathan’s life hung on the balance, his armor bearer was willing to go with him heart and soul, even to death. Wouldn’t we all benefit from a friendship like this?
Though most people think that they have what it takes to be a good friend, often there is no objective basis for that judgment. Certainly, the number of friends that you have on your Facebook account is not proof that you are a good friend. C.S Lewis, in his book The Four Loves, talks about the fact that before Romanticism in the 18th century, friendship was viewed as the happiest and most fully human of all loves—the crown of life and the school of virtue. Lewis, an expert in ancient literature, saw that historically men have believed that it was in our friendships where we learned how to fully love and develop our virtues; the reason being that out of all the loves, friendship is the least natural and the least instinctive. It takes very little virtue to love someone romantically; it also doesn’t take much character to love your family. Jesus points this out when He says, “Don’t the thieves and tax-collectors love those who love them?” Friendship is the great test of our virtue and the true litmus test of our character, specifically because it is the least necessary of human relationships (although still vitally important).
Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.” As you might expect, unconditional love has to lie at the root of our friendships; and from there comes the security that your friends will stick with you through the highs and lows of life, as much as your family, children, even your spouse. Unfortunately, many of us are not accustomed to seeing friendships at this level because we view our friendships as largely peripheral to our other relationships—good if you have it, but okay if you don’t. Yet when faced with difficult times, having authentic friendships gives you something to hold onto.
There is also a hidden side to friendship that draws out our virtue. C.S. Lewis, when his friend Charles Williams died, wrote this to describe the loss that his group of friends felt: “In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity. I want other lights than my own to show all his facets.” When his friend passed away, Lewis recognized that he would never see the unique reaction of his other friend Ronald to one of Charles’ jokes. And instead of having more of Ronald to himself, he sadly realized that he had less. From that observation, he makes the conclusion: “Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend.” If we allow ourselves, the best of who we are can be drawn out as we expand our pool of genuine friends.
Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 7