Friends for Life

Steve Arterburn

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.

Exaltation Through Humility

Steve Arterburn

Men, Jesus Christ is first and foremost the object of our faith. He’s also our primary example of what the life of faith looks like.

 

For instance, consider Christ’s humility’particularly the way He relinquished His will to the Father. Philippians chapter two says our attitude should be the same as His. Though He was truly God, He didn’t demand or cling to His rights as God. Instead, He made Himself as nothing. In His incarnation and life on earth, He took the humble position of a suffering servant. He lived in perfect obedience, yet died a criminal’s death on a cross.

And because of this humility, the Father raised Christ from death to sit at His right hand’a position of absolute honor, glory, and power.

But whatever you do, don’t miss the progression: Jesus’ humiliation preceded and precipitated His exaltation. Humility was a key element in Jesus’ life as He accomplished the Father’s will for fallen humanity.

If we’re to surrender to God and His will for us, we need to be humble as well. Jesus didn’t pray solely for His own will. He humbly prayed for His Father’s will to be done. We, too, ought to pray, ‘Father, I want your will, not mine.’ Men, this is the mark of humility and the beginning of real spiritual renewal.

Unconditional Affirmation

Steve Arterburn

Men, as you both articulate and demonstrate acceptance to your children, be sure to avoid making that acceptance conditional. Don’t make it dependent upon some accomplishment, such as academics, athletics, Scouting, or civic work. Achievements in those areas are definitely commendable, and you should be sure to communicate that to them. But if your son or daughter only hears affirmation when he or she performs, they’ll leave home conditioned to perform in order to continue hearing the words of acceptance they so desperately want and need from you.

 

When children are blessed by their father, they’re steadily released to become their own person. Then, when the time comes, the father can say, ‘My days of training and influence are complete. I am always here to help you should you need something I can provide. But I am now stepping down from my position over you to assume a position beside you. Instead of your teacher or corrector, I am now counselor and friend. I believe you are well prepared to achieve everything that is your desire and calling. You have my blessing, not because of what I believe you will accomplish, but because of who I know you are.’

 

Guys, that’s what your children desperately need from you. It’ll help them immeasurably as they endeavor to be mature and productive people in this world; to be good husbands and wives and fathers and mothers; and to live faithful, obedient, and joyful lives in Christ.