Male friendship has been greatly distorted in our culture. As a result, many men don’t know how to be or how to make good friends. Can you relate? Sure, you may have some buddies. But I’m talking about something much deeper–I’m talking about a friend who knows you–really knows you. A friend who struggles alongside you, battles for you, and encourages you.
Consider the friendship, for example, of David and Jonathan. David was anointed King, which meant Jonathan, who was heir to the throne, would never claim his title. It would be similar to this: If your dad was the president of a huge corporation and you were serving as vice-president. But instead of taking your rightful position as president, the CEO chooses your friend instead. How could a friendship under these circumstances survive?
One reason is because both David and Jonathan counted each other better than themselves. There are few more graphic pictures of this than Jonathan’s surrender of his robe, his armor, and his position to David (1 Samuel 18:1-4). ‘You are going to be king of Israel,’ Jonathan tells David, ‘and I will be next to you’ (1 Samuel 23:17).
And even after Jonathan was slain in battle, David continued to honor Jonathan by caring for Jonathan’s son.
Do you have at least one relationship that approaches this level of love and care? It’s a costly commitment. The only thing more costly is not having such a friend.
The New Testament describes Samson as a man of faith. It mentions neither his failures nor his great strength. Though he possessed great physical strength, he was a moral weakling who followed his own selfish desires and ignored God. Do you remember his story? He was the man who foolishly loved Delilah?
It seems that after the first three episodes of betrayal, Samson would’ve known not to trust Delilah. But like many of us, Samson thought that giving into manipulation was an expression of love. He chose to please Delilah and to get what he wanted from her, rather than to obey God and deliver his people. Delilah chose to use her relationship with Samson for her own gain. Most of us have experienced the pain of being used, and we have undoubtedly used others. We’ve also known the searing agony of being betrayed.
It will accomplish nothing to look at Samson and think about what he didn’t accomplish. Likewise, it does little good for us to become depressed over what might have been. Samson shows us that as long as we have life, we have hope. It’s never to late to surrender your life to God and allow him to redeem you and restore what you’ve lost. In spite of his failures, Samson is listed as a champion of faith in Hebrews 11. In spite of your failures, you, too, can be a champion of faith as God continues to transform your life.
Even men who don’t want to be like their fathers often turn out to be amazingly similar in their behaviors and personalities. Through the power of God and hard personal choices, however, it’s possible to break out of an ongoing spiral of sin and dysfunction.
Take Josiah, for example. Josiah was a young king who chose to stand against a virtual tidal wave of disobedience fostered by his grandfather Manasseh and his father, Amon. Breaking from this downward spiral was particularly difficult since Josiah had little knowledge to guide his actions. The Scriptures containing God’s laws had been lost for years. But when the high priest discovered the Book of the Law in the Temple, young Josiah immediately initiated spiritual renewal for himself and his people.
As a result, Josiah was able to break the cycle of sin that had captured Israel in its whirl. Josiah was not a perfect man but he was a true champion of spiritual renewal. He was committed to God and had the courage to pursue both personal and national renewal.
Josiah made the difficult choices necessary in order to ‘cut loose’ from the sins of the past and to build a new life for himself and the people of Judah. Are you like Josiah? Do you need to make a break from the past in order to build a new life for yourself? I hope you’ll seek the same powerful God who renewed Josiah.