February 28, 2017

 Proverbs 18:24 “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

Many people are lonely because they put themselves in a self-imposed exile. Somehow, they have this notion other people ought to take note of them and befriend them. And because of apparent lack of contact made by others towards them, they make the wrong assumption people do not care about them. It is very difficult for us to extend ourselves to others when our focus is upon ourselves and what we believe we need or want.

The above Proverb gives two keys to unlock the door of our isolation.

Key #1: It is imperative for a friendship with another to develop for us to extend ourselves to others in a manner we ourselves would like to be approached. True friendship develops when a person esteems another better than themselves and ministers to that person’s need. A selfish friend seeks to find what he can get from another person and will never be satisfied because their expectation is based on getting rather than giving.

Key # 2: There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. The capacity for true love and friendship is innate to the human condition, because sinners by nature are selfish. So, we need a model by which to build our friendships. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. Now there is what I call a friend. Someone who came to lost underserving sinners and offered His forgiveness and friendship to His enemies. Whether you embrace this friendship given by Christ or not, it is still freely offered to all with no strings of merit or worth attached to us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…” John 3:16. This key enables us to use the first key to reach out to others.

These principles remind me of Lady. When my brother Jim and I were elementary age kids, we went sledding on a neighborhood hill. We found this large, half-starved, shot through the foot, cigarette burned face, bloodshot-eyed, ugly, mangy dog. The neighborhood kids were teasing it and the whole time this dog just kept wagging its tail and taking it. Jim and I rescued the dog from its tormentors and took it home. When my dad saw this sorry excuse for an animal, he yelled, “Get that dog out of here.” “OK, Dad,” we replied. “Come on, dog, let’s go,” we coaxed trying to get it out of our garage. And to both Jim’s and my surprise, we heard our mother say; “Bill, how can you do that to those boys?” Then to our amazement, we heard from our Dad, “Bring the dog back.”

Believe you me! When this dog moved into its new blanket-laden insulated doghouse and realized where its free meals were coming from, and when two boys who could care less about how she looked, Lady became a willing part of our family. She did not need a leash or a chain to keep her in our yard. Nobody could touch us boys without her approval. Some of my Dad’s friends found out the hard way when they tried to wrestle with us without Lady’s approval.

Here’s the point: this dog had absolutely nothing to give to us. We took in a mutt in every sense of the word. But she became the best pet we ever had because we first gave to her unconditional love and acceptance without any worth or merit on her part. Is this not exactly Jesus did for us? “We love him because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19.

Realize this: if we are lonely and feel friendless it is because we have failed first to embrace the love of God extended to us from Jesus Christ, and secondly, we have not shared this selfless love with another person. Need a friend? Why not start loving somebody in your own family, or maybe it is the old person across the street or in the nursing home, or the person in your church who always sits by them self.

From an adopted mutt,

Pastor John Schofield