Tests for Christian Friends
“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
Today after church will you and your friends discuss the sermon? Or will you stick to socializing at lunch? Most of us don’t talk about God’s role in our lives, in our phone calls, shared meals out, or random, unexpected meetings. The other day at supper with my neighbors I mentioned that I had started praying for something that God appears to have resolved within five hours, not the two months I expected. I was very glad, thankful to God, and humbled. Two of my eight dinner companions were happy for me, and just nodded silently, then someone changed the subject. As I think back, I remember that someone mentioned that I deserved to “get everything I wanted.” I challenged his statement with the truth—that I am undeserving of anything, but my friend changed the subject, and our dialogue reverted to “proper” social conversation. Hopefully I will remember to speak of God’s work in my life today in my social settings.
Christians, like the righteous Job, are called to demonstrate our loyalty, faith, and reliance on Christ when we are suffering or living our ordinary daily lives. God’s work is always extraordinary, so even our common-place activities have meaning when seen from the Lord’s perspective. God initiated Job’s testing as he sometimes instigates ours (Job 1:7-8). “It is God, not Satan, who singles out Job for testing…Job is given the high calling of remaining true to God even when everything is taken away and grim suffering becomes his daily lot.” (1) Christ calls us his friends and entrusts us with the truth of His Word. If one of our friends is tested with a trial or difficulty, it is also our test of friendship and faith, as it was for Job’s friends. Like him, we should be ready to confront false doctrine or mistaken interpretations of God’s sovereignty, and his ordained sufferings and blessings. We have been given the truth, not for ourselves alone, but for the good of the kingdom of Christ. As we worship together, so should we discuss and help firm up each other’s faith and knowledge of the truth as iron sharpens iron.
Jesus demonstrated his friendship with Peter when he rebuked him for his worldly thinking about the Messiah—that he shouldn’t have to suffer and die. (Matthew 16:21-23) Allowing Peter to continue incorrectly viewing his mission would have hindered Jesus’s ministry by influencing others with good-intentioned but worldly philosophy. Perhaps Peter, like Job’s friends, believed that all suffering was the result of sin. Maybe knowing that Jesus never sinned, he couldn’t reconcile the idea that Christ would have to suffer and die. (3)
If we let false doctrine go unanswered, our silence will give approval to it and lead others astray. We are called to worship not only by attending church service today but by helping each other to apply the truth to our lives, with a biblical worldview. Growing in wisdom with our friends honors Christ, as he honors us with this high calling.
(1) The Reformation Study Bible, Reformation Trust Publishing, note on Job 1:7 and note from Introduction to the Book of Job(Sanford, Fl., 2015).
(2) ESV Study Bible Notes (digital edition), note on Proverbs 27:17 (Crossway, 2008)
(3) John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/matthew-16.html