Know Your Bible

VOL. 8                           April 5, 2009                           NO. 11

A Worthy Companion

    If we are blessed enough in this life to be able to say we have a true companion, we are truly blessed indeed. Our English word companion comes from the Old French word compaignon which, in turn, is based on the Latin com- [together with] and panis [bread]. Its literal meaning, originally, meant one with whom we sat down together to eat bread. A true companion is one with whom we feel no fear; we are at ease in their presence and comfortable enough to eat bread with them. We are close enough to share of our substance and close enough to sit at the table in our homes [or theirs] and share our thoughts as well. The term is synonymous with an associate, mate, or friend. Most of mankind seeks another whom they can call a worthy companion.

    The dictionary defines this term in such a way that we may begin to understand the appeal of a true companion, and gives us the characteristics of such a one: a person who is frequently in the company of, associates with, or accompanies another. We have seen such pairings, most likely, in our experience, and we often seek such relationships for ourselves. At the very least, this is the one we seek for our potential spouse! We want someone who will be known as our "other half"and one who is frequently in our company. We want someone who will be our mate and even our closest friend. Those who seek a marriage partner seek a true companion, not just a source of financial support, a 'project' to 'fix', or someone to simply claim as another tax deduction.

    The wise writer speaks of the blessings of true companions, and we easily recognize the wisdom and truthfulness of his words: "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken" (Eccl. 4:9-12). If you have ever had a true companion in this earthly walk, you smile with knowing appreciation of the wisdom expressed in those words, and the remembrance of having your companion 'lift you up' or of the times when they stood with you against the opposition. Should we be separated from these companions, we sorrow over our loss and we long for the possibility of enjoying their company once again.

    In the marriage relationship, our partner should be a true companion, for we need that mate and friend who will be there for us and with us through 'thick and thin'; we need a partner to stand with us and who will lift us up should we fall; and we need someone who will turn us around and direct us back to the strait and narrow way should we ever stray. A wise man once told me, "The hardest thing for a Christian to do is to go to heaven alone." I believe he is right, and those words of wisdom are often confirmed by observations made of my own life and the lives of others. True companions are treasures here on earth that we can actually take with us when we leave!

    But, we must admit, there are companions who are not ones who will help us get to heaven. The wise writer warns against becoming companions of certain individuals, if only for the consequences of making their friendship (cf. Prov. 13:20; 28:7; 29:3). One whose stated goal is heaven will not likely reach the goal if he surrounds himself with those who would hinder him and who constantly have their minds set on the things of this earth. Anyone who seeks to attain to eternal life will seek out a companion or companions who will help them in that endeavor, and will avoid making friendships with those of the world (cf. Jas. 4:4). We would all do well to remember the caution of the apostle Paul: "Evil company corrupts good habits" (1 Cor. 15:33).

    Instead of seeking out friends whose heart is set on this world, we should be seeking out friendships and true companions in the faith -- ones who will help us spiritually. But what are some characteristics of such a one? How can we recognize them? The following are a few notable characteristics that should be clearly visible to all, and which identify the type of companion we all need.

Spiritually-Minded. It should go without saying, but many Christians seem to overlook the obvious: if you want to get to heaven, surround yourself with people who want to go, too. Let us never forget that we are supposed to be people who "walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7) and who "do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" (Rom. 8:1). If this is the case, and if heaven is truly our goal, it makes no sense to make friends with those whose minds are firmly set on earthly things, for they will not be a help but a hindrance!

Genuine Love. It is difficult, if not outright impossible, to discern, at a glance, one who truly loves you versus the one who merely says they love you. Many brethren vocally express their love for one another, but it is not seen often enough in their lives or in their actions. Jesus plainly tells us that love for one another is how the world will know that we are His disciples (John 13:34,35), and anything less than this puts us in an unfavorable light. Genuine love for one another will cause a friend to restore us if we err (Gal. 6:1), correct us when we have wronged them (Matt. 18:15-17), and even withstand us to our faces, if necessary (cf. Gal. 2:11ff). They do not seek to embarrass us; they just want to keep us from losing our place in heaven!

Sacrifice. A true companion is one who is willing to give of his or her time, energy, and material possessions for us, if need be. True love demands that we be willing to give up what we have for others, and such examples have been recorded within God's word for us to see (cf. Acts 2:44, 45; 4:32-35; 2 Cor. 8:1-5). Some gave their possessions, some opened up their homes, and some even gave their lives for the sake of others. Does anyone doubt that those who benefitted remembered their sacrificial acts with great gratitude?

    By now, you may have recognized someone who fulfills the description of a true companion and who has all of these characteristics. Maybe you have recognized that this describes our Lord, Jesus Christ. You see, we could have no more worthy companion than Jesus. He is one who genuinely cared for us, to the point He left behind the glories of heaven and humbled Himself, living in the lowly form of man and dying the cruel death on the cross (Phil. 2:5-8). Why did He do it? He did it for our benefit! You may remember that He demonstrated genuine love for us in that same act of dying on the cross (Eph. 5:2), exceeding even His own definition of the greatest love (John 15:13). You may remember that He made the greatest sacrifice He could make: Himself. And He did it all for us!

    Maybe you are one who feels alone in this world, without a true companion. If that is you, then know that there is one who is willing to walk with you all the way to heaven. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:39), but to benefit from that love you must be willing to leave behind the things of this world and begin walking the path that leads to heaven. Yes, you will have to give up worldly friends and maybe even family relationships, but those friendships cannot get you to heaven. They most often prevent you from getting there!

    Are you looking for a friend? Jesus is the one you need. If you are truly His friend (John 15:14), He will be your friend. He will stand up for you when it matters (Heb. 4:14-16) and He lives to do just that (7:25). He is a worthy companion!

---Steven Harper

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