Minden Press-Herald

Oct 02nd

Paul treasured old friends

"Show me a man with one friend and I will show you a wealthy man." Mark Twain is attributed to coining this phrase. Most of us agree, 'a good friend is much more precious than a hand full of gold'. Solomon knew the value of friends ( Prov 27:10; 18:24;17:17, etc). David and Jonathan are the supreme example of "friendship that goes beyond human comprehension". Jesus is referred to as the "one that sticks closer than a brother". Yes, true friendship is to be highly valued.

In reading the Pauline Letters, one can quickly see how much Paul treasured his friends. Those serving with him and others he knew at stops around the known Christian world were dear to him. And there were many! His network of friends served as a strengthening rod and safety web as he made his way through life, moving under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

Some of us are content to "stay put" and enjoy the friendships developed from our early years on down through life. But some pray boldly the Prayer of Jabez (1 Chron. 4:10) to "enlarge my territory", circumscribing an increasing number of friends. Paul was surely one of those. He knew the value of deep friendships and was led to friends who could be trusted and counted upon to be faithful through the hardships life sometimes brings.

He mentions many men and women in this list of friends. Among the male friends he treasured were: Acts (Ananias, Barnabas, Silas); Romans (Andronicus, Ampliatus, Gaius, Hermes, Narcissus, Phlegon, Patrobas, Quartus, Rufus, Tertius, Timothy, Stachys, Urbanus); Philippians (Archippus, Appolos, Demus, Epaphras, John Mark, Nereus, Onesimus, Philemon); 1-2 Corinthians (Aquila, Appolos, Achaicus, Chole, Forturalus, Stephanas, Sosthenes, Timothy; 1-2 Timothy (Aquila, Claudia, Erastus, Onesiphorus, Pudens, Titus, Tychicus). And there are many more listed in his Pauline letters.

Women friends of Paul include: Acts (Eunice, Lydia); Romans (Julia, Mary, Olympas, Phoebe, Priscilla, Philologus, Rufus' mother, and Neueu's sister; Philemon LApphia); 2 Timothy (Lois). They all contributed greatly to his ministry – to be listed among his friends. He even listed relatives of his as being 'companions in the faith': Romans (Heriodion, Janias, Jason, Lucius, and Sosipater).

Altogether there is 70 plus mentioned in his writings. Wouldn't you say, "Paul was a wealthy man"? Well, when we think of it, we all are probably rich in friends too. A good exercise in this arena is to draw concentric circles with your name in the center. In each succeeding circle, write the names of your levels of friends and extend it out to 3-4 circles. This will give an idea of how "rich you are". If you are not pleased with your level of wealth, perhaps you can take some Biblical steps to enlarge your territory.

I think it is good to make journeys back through 'yesterday' and revisit special friends God placed in our lives. What a source of encouragement and strength! When we rub shoulders with these special friends the Spirit brings a sensation much like the disciples experienced on the Emmaus Road. (Luke 24). Can we do that soon?






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