Mark chapter 2 documents an interesting story which, in my humble opinion, is the best illustration of the importance of Godly friends. Here is the gist of it:
Four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a stretcher.
They couldn’t get to Jesus through the crowd,
so they dug through the clay roof above his head and lowered the sick man
on his stretcher, right down in front of Jesus.
When Jesus saw how strongly they believed that he would help,
Jesus said to the sick man, “Son, your sins are forgiven!”
From all the connections this guy had, he only had four friends who were willing to carry him, in the literal sense, to his miracle. There were many raised eyebrows in the streets of Capernaum that day. Everyone they met along the road must have asked them what the deal was. To which, I am sure they replied, “We are helping our friend to get healed.”
So what is the importance of Godly friends? Godly friends will help you to attain your full potential in God. They will inspire you to be all that God called you to be. They will help ease the load when the going gets tough. They will help you to keep on the right paths. They will not make you feel good in your mediocrity but rather provoke you to get out of your comfort zones. I could go on and on but I think you get the point – every Christian must surround himself with Godly friends.
I am sure there were lots of leprous men in Israel. Leprosy might be unheard of today but it was just as common as cancer is in our days. But out of all the leprous men in the entire 3 years of Jesus ministry, only one had friends who helped him get to his miracle. Think about the impotent man that was lying at the pool of Bethsaida for 38 years (John 5). Sadly, healing was readily available because God would send an angel every now and then to stir the waters and yet he
“Do you want to be healed?” ~John 5:6
Jesus was just checking to see if the guy really wanted healing because he didn’t understand how he would lie there for all those years and just watch other people get healed. But the answer the impotent man gave was just sad.
“Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up…
~ John 5:7
Unlike the leper in Mark 2, this impotent man had no single friend that would be willing to help him. This serves to demonstrate the danger of living as a Christian without some Godly friends around you. Some Christians get saved and because they didn’t have any Christian friends prior to getting converted, they just maintain their old friends. The first thing you should do after getting saved is to look for some good godly friends. I am not suggesting that you completely abandon your old friends but make sure to intentionally make friends with godly people. I grew up in church so I never had to face this challenge because most of my friends have always been Godly people. However, if you didn’t have the privilege I had and are now in
Three types of friends
In order to stress on the importance of godly friends, let’s look at the three types of friends one can have. I will then allow you to analyze your connections and determine which category your friends fall in. So, the three types of friends are:
Let’s examine each of these in more detail:
I coined this phrase from the word relinquish. To relinquish means to give up. Relinquishers are therefore the friends that only want to be friends with you as long as everything is fine. But they abandon you as soon as the soup gets thick. These are the people that Solomon alludes to when he says;
Everyone talks about how loyal and faithful he is,
but just try to find someone who really is!
~Proverbs 20:6, GNB
Unfortunately, relinqushers are never in short supply. As a pastor, I have had my fair share of relinquishers. They promise their support in ministry but when it comes to it, they are nowhere to be seen. It helps to grow a tough skin as a believer because if you allow this to get to you, you will end up with a lot of bitterness.
Apostle Paul encountered these kinds of friends too. One of them was called Demas. But on another instance, there were too many for him to name. check it out:
for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world,
and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia.
2 Tim 4:10,KJV
At my first
answerno man stood with me, but all men forsook me:
I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.
2 Timothy 4:16
One intresting thing about Paul is that he never allowed relinquishers to dampen his spirits. In fact, when all men forsook him as he says in the scripture above, he didn’t get mad at them. He just prayed for them. I have taught myself to have the same attitude towards people who forsake me for whatever reason. Instead of crying over spilt milk, I just let them go and pray for them like Apostle Paul.
But the most remarkable example of relinquishers is the crowds that were following Jesus. In Mathew 21, Jesus enters Jerusalem and he is given a reception befitting a king. They even give him a “red-carpet” by casting leaves on the path so that his donkey-mobile can ride on. All the while, they are shouting at the top of their voices,
“Hossana to the son of David. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
~ Mathew 21:9
But just a couple of hours later, the same voices that were praising him were singing to a different tune. Instead of Hossana to the highest, the song had become,
Crucify him! ~ Mathew 27:22
Be wary of friends who are always singing your praises. They might just be relinquishers camouflaging as good godly friends.
These friends are worse than the relinquishers. While the relinquishers will just abandon you in the thick of things, the extinguishers will not leave without causing you a lot of trouble. Luckily, they are usually not as many as the relinquishers but the damage they cause can be devastating. A good example would be king Herod. When the wiremen paid him a courtesy call and announced they had come to see the new born king, he immediately pretended to be a friend to their cause. He asked the wisemen to seek the new born king until they find him and then return to him with the details so that he too could go and worship him. But his intention was evil – he wanted to kill the baby.
Not everyone that appears friendly is friendly. Some “friends” are only getting close to you so they can destroy you. The devil will use people close to you to try to destroy your destiny. This is why you should be very careful who you hang out with. In most cases, the Holy Spirit will warn you of these kinds of people. Sometimes, you might just learn the hard way. Like Apostle Paul did.
Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:
Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.
~ 2 Tim 4: 14-15
Even in ministry, some people come as partners and coworkers in the ministry but they are only there to destroy the work. Do not accept anyone at face-value. Make sure to talk to God about any connections you make before committing to them. Otherwise, you might end up suffering great harm at the hands of some “Alexanders”
The word distinguish means to manage to discern. Distinguishers are the people who recognize the gift of God upon your life and help you to pull it out. Distinguishers are the friends who do not see you as you are but as you are meant to be. They believe in the beauty of your dreams and are ready to work with you towards their fruition. In my personal experience, I have realized that God often packages distinguishers in the most unlikely of packages. It might be someone that dresses shabbily, not very eloquent, uneducated, jobless, etc. You will need to rely on the Holy Spirit in order to discern these kinds of people. Remember, Jesus taught that even after you sow a seed in Church, God will use men to bless you (Luke 6:38). Somebody in your life has the key to the open door you are asking God for. If you do not dicern the person, your door might remain closed for life.
If you read 2 Samuel 23, you will find a number of men that were distinguishers in the life of David. Check out what some of these men did for David:
- Adino – he slayed 800 men with one spear
- Eleazer – he fought all day until the sword stuck to his hand
- Shammah – when the army fled from philistines, he held his ground and fought alone against the whole army. And he won.
- Abishai – killed 300 men with one spear
- Jehoiada- killed two lion-like men. He also went into a lion’s den and killed it
David had a great army because of a couple of men that were ready to risk their lives just to help him fulfill his mandate. But the interesting thing about these men is that when they came to David, they were anything but mighty.
All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him,
and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.
~1 Samuel 22:2.
They came to David when they were in distress, in debt and were just disillusioned in life. But David knew these would turn out to be his mighty men of war so he looked past their current condition. The biggest mistake Christians make is dismissing people because of their current situation. If you judge anyone based on where they are today, you have judged them prematurely. You have no clue what kind of destiny God has in store for the people you are despising today. This mostly affects pastors and Christians who are looking for a spouse. Take time to pray and discern what God has put in people rather than superficially deciding against pursuing some friendships based on their current state.
The other day, I was watching an interview on YouTube of a guy who was approached by the owner of Starbucks when it was still in its infancy. The man was asking him to become an investor in the company. The guy declined the offer because he thought it was a bad idea. Today, he says he almost cries when he drives past a Starbucks. My point is, if you do not discern your disintigishers, you might end up crying for the rest of your life. Distingusihers are my idea of godly friends – they add a lot of value to your life. And I am not just talking about economic value. They could be helping you to grow spiritually, socially, or in some other way, shape and form.
May God help you to discern what kinds of people are hanging around you. And may he order your steps to the right friends and disconnect you from the ones that are only after running your life. Amen.