Reflections and Blog

When Friends Fail

In the Sunday sermon, we heard the Lord teach us from Ecclesiastes about the simple wisdom of companionship. Life can be a painful and frustrating journey, but it is better together. But what about when companions themselves are the source of pain and frustration? What about when someone you love isn’t there for you or sins against you? How should “better together” play out when friends fail?

First, you should not be surprised when a friend fails because you yourself are beset by weakness (Eccl 7:20-22). None of us are perfect companions and so should not expect our companions to be perfect. Instead we should be patient, compassionate, and full of mercy toward others, just as we would wants others to be with us (Mt 7:12; Col 3:12-14).

Second, you must remember that the hard work of nurturing a relationship is worth it. Yes, you will sometimes have to endure the sinful behavior or the contrary thinking and desires of your companion. But when you overcome evil with good (Rm 12:19-21), when you welcome for the Lord’s sake those who think differently than you (Rom 15:7), and when you take interest in the interests of others alongside and above your own interests (Phil 2:3-4), the frequent result is a more holy companion and a stronger and more fulfilling relationship. There is a general principle of sowing and reaping in relationships (Gal 6:6-10). Persevere in love with your failing companions and both you and they will be blessed.

Third, you must find your ultimate satisfaction not in human relationships but in a loving relationship with Christ. A saving relationship with the Lord Jesus is described in many ways in the Bible, but one of those ways is friend (Lk 5:20; 12:4; Jn 15:13-15). Because he is both God and man, Jesus Christ is our greatest friend. As a true friend, he always loves us and cares for us—even to the point of dying for us (Jn 15:9)! Furthermore, he is always with us and desires for us to be together with him in his kingdom (Mt 28:20; Jn 14:1-3). To have such companionship with the Son of God himself—when we were only rebellious dust—ought to fill our souls with joy and enable us to love others even when they fail (Eph 3:14-19; 4:32; 5:1-2).

In the end, if Christ is the only friend we ever have in life, he would be enough. But the Son of God has seen fit to also give us the gift of other human companions. Let us therefore enjoy God’s gift and give him thanks even when our friends fail.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.

Questions to Consider:
1. Have you come to know Christ as friend by repentance and faith, or is God still your enemy?
2. Not all companions can be chosen (e.g. family), but the Bible has much to say about the need for choosing wise and godly companions. Do your companions encourage your walk with God or discourage it?
3. How does the prospect of gaining new friends in Christ play a role in evangelism? Consider Luke 16:9 and its context.