Last Saturday’s Oxford Club discussion in Richard Phillip’s The Masculine Mandate may have been the best yet. We tackled chapter 11, Men in Friendship. Phillips argues that biblical masculinity starts with a commitment to our wives and children to work and keep (see Gen. 2:15), but it doesn’t stop there. Meaningful relationships with other godly men we call friends enter into the mix as well.
Toward the end of the chapter he makes this statement: The best friend is always one who turns our hearts to rest upon the Lord. He draws that principle from the account of David and Jonathan in 1 Sam. 23:16 were Jonathan went to his friend, David, on the run for the express purpose of strengthening his hand in God. Rightly so.
Thus we asked on Saturday, what does it look like to act as this kind of best friend? How do we strengthen one another’s hands in God? We came up with four things.
First, we point our brother to the promises of God. This came from Phillips himself as he argues from 1 Sam. 23:17 how Jonathan reminded David that God ordained him to reign as Israel’s next king so he need not fear Saul’s murderous threats. Phillips adds: A godly friend ministers primarily to the faith of his brothers in Christ, seeking to build up their trembling hearts and protect them from the danger of unbelief and fear. Few things help that battle more than the unshakable promises of God.
Second, we comfort our brother with our presence in his suffering. This we took from the example of Job’s friends in Job 2:11-13. Job’s friends were at their best when they just sat with him for a whole week in his suffering. Things went badly down hill from there. Discernment knows the difference between a time to strengthen with words of promise and a time to comfort with a silent, compassionate presence.
Third, we support our brother with our prayers for his strengthening. Jesus modeled this in preparing Peter for his three-fold denial in Luke 22:31-34. Our Lord countered Satan’s threat to His disciple through intercessory prayer that ensured Peter would survive the onslaught and even use it to strengthen the other disciples in their need.
Fourth, we help our brother with our provocations of his obedience. Hebrews 3:12-14 urges best of friends to exhort each other daily in light of the deceitfulness of sin and the potential for hardening of the heart. Anyone can flatter but only true, loving friends risk all with loving reproof when needed.
Do you have a friend in Christ who does such things for your welfare? Regard him among the best of friends. Are you that kind of friend to others? They will rise up and call you blessed.
Masculine men, friendly men, strengthen one another’s hands in God.