ITS EMPHASIS IN YOUTH
Our youthful years are the springtime of life. They are formative in character, and, to a great extent, determine the future course of our life. What we sav in the days of our youth, we reap in our advanced years. This is a truth so universal in scope, that educators from time immemorial have recognized it.
Gradually we take our places amongst the ranks of men, and there we are to live according to God’s ordinances and precepts in the battle-field of life.
One of the great factors in our life is our friendship. Youth is the bloom, the springtime in which friendships are made. The old man has long and tried friends. The ties of mutual friendships have become strong and lasting. New contacts and friendships are for him a matter of the past. Living in the evening of his life, the shadows growing long, he lives in the sweet memories of his past friendships.
But not so with youth! Here the question is one of the present; it is actual, concrete. It is a burning question, ever and anew calling for the proper answer, so that it may be led to a happy conclusion.
Much guidance is necessary. And blessed is the young man who walks in the way of wisdom, the fear of the Lord. He that findeth it has found life.
A FUNDAMENTAL NEED IN MAN
That we have friends, and seek these is not something incidental. It is not so that friendship could be taken out of our life, and that its orb would be full and complete. Fact is life would not be life without our friend. That we cling to our friends is because we thirst for life. It is natural for man to seek friends, as it is for the plants to seek the sunlight.
Pray, what may be the reason for this longing in man, and particularly in youth? Man is a Covenant creature. As such he is adapted to the life of fellowship with God. Scripture emphasizes this fact. The Bible- speaks of God’s children as being His friends. We read in James 2:23 that Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness, and he was called a friend, of God. Now God tells His Covenant secrets to His friends, (Ps. 25:14) who fear His name. So does God tell Abraham of His purpose to destroy Sodom. We read in Gen. 19:17, 18: “And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I shall do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him. . . .”
Very similar we read of Jesus calling His disciples His friends in John 15:15. “Henceforth I call you not servants: for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth, but I have called you friends, for all things that 1 have heard of my Father I have made known to you’’.
Friendship with God is also called enmity of the world, and to be an enemy of the world is to be a friend of God.
On the basis of the quoted passages we can state, that friendship presupposes likeness, the greatest possible affinity. There must be a common meeting ground with similar problems and tastes. This affinity between Abraham and God is the righteousness of God in Christ. The righteous God loves righteous men. And so, God tells them His plans, purposes and the secret mysteries of His eternal kingdom. To them it is given to know these mysteries by faith, and from others they are hid.
Thus also friendships among men are constituted. Two persons who are to be friends must have common problems, backgrounds, experiences. They have similar tastes. And they confide in one another in the same measure that their friendship is true and tried.
It is also a known fact that due to the change of tastes of youth, friendships are often not lasting. Today a friend, tomorrow a stranger! Many are the friendships that suffer shipwreck in the days of our youth! But ever and anon other friendships are made, because man is image-bearer of God.
A COMMENTARY ON OUR TASTE
Our friends are a matter, to a large degree of free choice. For soothe, the place of our birth, the school we attend, the church where we worship are factors largely beyond our control. The day of our birth and the birthdays of others also are no matter of free choice. Yet, our friends are within the named limitations and set boundaries a matter of choice.
Thus, our choice of friends speaks volumes. We have heard the proverb: “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are”. This is true in a twofold sense.
Firstly, this is psychologically true. Likes attract likes. One would not expect persons of widely different years to be friends. Neither would we expect a great lover of music to be a great friend of one who has no taste what-so-ever for this art. Secondly, this is also spiritually true. According to Holy Scripture and history there are a twofold people in this world, to wit, the sons of God and the sons of Belial. If one chooses his friends from the latter, and can sit in the seat of the scornful—pray, does this not reflect the desire of a depraved heart and reprobate mind? Moreover, if one chooses his friends from those who fear God, does this not show spiritual taste and affinity?
This is a matter not to be deemed lightly. For the Bible teaches that we shall not be unequally yoked with unbelievers; that he who would be a friend of this world will be accounted an enemy of God. The choosing of wicked friends is a great evil in our day. Who are your friends?
A GREAT DIFFERENCE IN OUR LIFE
The truth of the great influence of friendship cannot easily be overstressed. Friends can be a great factor for good, but they can also be our ruin.
Scripture gives some instances of evil friends, who worked ruin for those whose confidence they enjoyed. One striking example we have in Jonadab who gave Amnon advice in the matter of sinning with Tamar, Absalom’s sister. Absalom should have rebuked this friend, and not have listened to him. But the fact is, and this is our point, Jonadab was an evil influence in Amnon’s life.
On the other hand, the friendship of David and Jonathan is an example of the blessing of a friendship in the fear of the Lord.
From this can be evident our calling. Friends we must have, but friends who say: “Your God is my God, and your people is my people!”