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the friends of God

"...and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness'--and he was called a friend of God." (James 2:23 ESV)

"Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4:4)

Friends share many things in common. Good friends are those who share in common with us certain important interests, causes, values, possessions, and often a shared reputation. A good friend is one who sticks faithfully beside us, no matter what (Proverbs 18:24).

God has been such a friend to us. He has shared with us his Son (John 15:13), his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), his intimate counsel (Psalm 25:14), his nature (2 Peter 1:4), his glory (Romans 5:2), his throne (Revelation 3:21), and every good thing ("all things", Romans 8:32). He has undertaken to support us, our best interests and our eternal future. He sticks by us forever.

This is so very amazing, that he should even want -- in any way -- to be friends with us. Especially, when he knows everything about us. Many of our friends, if they knew us like we know ourselves, would probably not want to be associated with us at all!

But God did not save us and leave us at a distance. He drew near in friendship. He is a king, and yet a friend.

God graciously calls us to be his friends in return. This involves faith (James 2:23), since he is trustworthy, and obedience, since he is Lord (John 15:14). This means that we seek his company and nearness. We ask for and heed his wise counsel. We uphold his reputation. We make our possessions available to him. (And why not, he gave them to us anyway!) We put his interests above our own. We support his holy standards. His friends become our friends.

But this also means that we forsake other associations for the sake of that friendship.

C. H. Spurgeon once said, "A man is known by the company he shuns as well as by the company he keeps." So it is with God and the world. Jesus put it this way: "No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." (Luke 16:13) The Pharisees who were listening to him laughed at this, since they placed such a high value on money. Jesus went on to say, "What is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God." (16:15).

In our tolerant age we don't like such language, but there it is. We must stand faithfully beside our closest and most perfect Companion. We must, above all else, be friends of God.


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