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Do you know what is true friendship?

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Do you know what is true friendship?

I would like to use a passage from the book of Exodus, chapter 18, to help us consider the value and habits of friends. This passage relates the interaction of the prophet Moses and his father-in-law, Jethro. Moses, as leader of the Israelites, spent his days as the Supreme Court of the nation, working “from morning till evening” by applying God’s laws to their disputes.

Here is Jethro’s reaction to what he observed.

Jethro replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice. You must be the people’s representative before God and teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live. But select capable men from all the people and have them serve as judges for the people at all times. Have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves." Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.

I would suggest these principles of friendship from these verses. They aren’t “secrets” or rocket science, but they deserve a little review, if nothing else.

1) Observe before speaking. (18:7-16). It’s amazing how quick we are to offer advice before we know the facts. It’s especially dangerous when we start to assume the motives (“he did that because he ...”). We love to talk about ourselves but we easily tire of listening. Active listening is hard work; much of our “listening” may just be waiting for our turn to talk. When we read the entire passage in Exodus about the interaction between Jethro and Moses, we see Jethro demonstrating that one way we can actively listen is to ask questions and get information.

2) When you speak, give specific and constructive advice, in humility .(18:17-23). Just “feeling sorry” for people won’t help them, and escapism doesn’t solve anything. Jethro was not excusing Moses from his responsibilities but emphasized balance and the good of everyone concerned. He didn’t just point out the problem, he offered solutions. But – and this is important – in doing so he did not pretend to be God. The phrase, “... and may God be with you,” means, in essence, “here’s my advice, but you must let God have the final word.” Friendship means giving advice, but still loving the person if he or she rejects your advice and does it another way.

3) When you’re done speaking, stop talking! (18:27). There’s a time to speak, and a time to be quiet. We need to take the initiative to address a problem, but we also need to take the initiative to be quiet. Give people time to think and evaluate; don’t overwhelm them or demand instant obedience. Ask for their feedback to make sure you haven’t missed the point.


Jethro teaches us how to be a friend, but we must also examine how to choose friends. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Bad company corrupts good morals.” The kind of friends you choose will influence your life, which is why it is one of the most important choices you will ever make. Here are some things to look for.

1) Choose someone who knows how to encourage. I heard of a psychology student who rented an extra room to a man and then purposefully nagged him incessantly. The purpose was to study his reactions for a psychology paper she was writing. It got so bad that one day the man snapped and beat her with an axe! Whether true or not, we all know the feeling.

2) Choose someone who is not afraid to be honest. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” We need someone who can walk up to us in love and say, “What you are doing is not good.”

3) Choose someone who doesn’t over-react. You don’t need someone who puts out candles with a fire extinguisher! Rome wasn’t built, or destroyed, in a day.


Keeping our busy lives in balance takes wisdom and for that we all need true friends. Do you have one? Are you one?

Think about it.



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Rev Jim Beerley

Monaco Christian Fellowship Perspective
by Pastor Jim Beerley

The Passion of The Christ - Free Bible