As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
Did you know that the deepest need of the human heart is for intimacy? That’s just another way of saying friendship. Now, I’m not talking about casual acquaintances or false friends, but true friends.
Proverbs 27:17 reminds us of a practical truth about sharpening iron, and to teach a spiritual truth about our relationships with others: “You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another”
I think we have all had the experience of friends who encourage us to be better than we are, and friends who don’t. A godly Christian friend can sharpen you in areas they are strong. For example, a wise friend can make you wiser. A godly loving friend can expand your capacity to love. A biblically knowledgeable friend can enhance your understanding of Scripture. Proverbs 13:20 says, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”
The Bible has a lot to say about friendship. One of my favorite pictures of friendship is the friendship that was between David and Jonathan found in 1 samuel. Jonathan and David’s friendship has a lot to teach us about power, self-sacrifice and loyalty.
As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.2 And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. 3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. 5 And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him, so that Saul set him over the men of war. And this was good in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.
According to Scripture, a friend is one who challenges you to become all that God intends you to be. Jonathan could have succeeded his father to become the next king of Israel. But he loved his friend David, and he encouraged him to follow God’s will, even though it meant Jonathan would forfeit his own claim to the throne (1 Sam. 19:1-7).
As a Christian, we struggle with many things. Just as Paul says in Romans 7:19, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” Because of this very point, we NEED accountability from godly people to help encourage us to do the good that we as Christians want to do, but ultimately struggle with because of our flesh.
One thing is certain, we all need friends, but more importantly, we all need at least that one, close, true friend who we can share our weaknesses with and not have to worry that they’ll gossip to others about it. We all need someone close to us that we can share our burdens and joys with.
We have all gone through many discouraging times, where we may feel God has turned His back on us. But it’s times like these that we need encouragement from our “Jonathan’s” to encourage us and to strengthen us to keep on going.
Having a “Jonathan” and being a “Jonathan” to others is one of the most beautiful gifts God could have given us. It truly represents the relationship we have with Christ. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”