“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them fall down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NIV).
What comes to your mind when you hear the word investment? Money! Investment is defined as “the investing of money or capital in order to gain profitable returns, as interest, income, or appreciation in value. It’s only natural to equate a financial word with profits, gains, or losses.
But, let me suggest a different line of thought when speaking of investment. What about a friend? How many true friends do you have in whom you are making an investment?
Throughout Scripture we see vignettes of leaders who sought the support of others. Consider the example of David and his close friend Jonathan. This Old Testament story is a great picture of the benefits found in true friendship: “Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God” (1 Samuel 23:16).
Imagine how David must have felt when his close friend went out of his way to encourage him in a difficult moment. This example calls all of us to ask an important question: Do I have someone in my life who “strengthens my hand in God”? If not, you need to find one, and fast!
Helen Keller said, “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” Friendships lift you because they provide support, encouragement, and healthy accountability. “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20).
A person’s need for community in his walk with the Lord cannot be overemphasized. We are in a battle we cannot win alone. Charlie “Tremendous” Jones said, “You are the same today as you will be in five years except for two things, the books you read and the people you meet.” I am thankful for good books that inspire, motivate, educate, and release passion. But there are times—often, in fact—when words on a page are insufficient; we need the company of a friend, someone who can “strengthen our hand in God.” Don’t try to go it alone, for failure may be lurking around the corner, and a collision may be waiting over the next hill. Remember: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).
Because we were created for relationship, it is imperative that we have soul sharpeners in our lives. A wise man espoused the value of these kinds of friends when he penned these words: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). A soul sharpener helps you develop spiritually and encourages you to be all you can be in the spiritual arena. The Apostle Peter concludes his second epistle with these words: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…” (2 Peter 3:18). Stay sharp!
Second, we also need stretchers. A stretcher is a person of vision who can see not only where we are, but also where we are capable of going and what we can become. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Our chief want in life is somebody who can make us do what we can.” What about you, do you have a stretcher in your life? If not, befriend someone who will motivate you to reach your greatest potential.
So, we need sharpeners and stretchers. But wait! We also need a spokesman. Who are they? Simply, spokesmen are those bold individuals who will look you directly in the eyes and tell you the truth. No sugar-coated, ego-stroking, flattering words, just truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Again, from the book of Proverbs, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” (27:6).
Oscar Wilde expressed it this way: “True friends stab you in the front.” Okay, I acknowledge this is a tough one. We prefer praise, performance, and platform over correction and constructive criticism. Too bad! Build a friendship with a spokesman and give him permission to do his thing.
Yes, two are better than one. But maybe three can be even more supportive. Gather those individuals around you who will hone your intellect and skills, expand your horizons, and yank you back onto the path toward your God-given destiny. Remember, we have been created for community.
I love the quote by Walter Winchell. “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the word walks out.” Make friends…You will never regret it!