FRIENDS are people we like to talk to and spend time with. But it is important to have the right kind of friends. Who do you think is the best friend we can have?— Yes, Jehovah God.
Can we really be friends of God?— Well, the Bible says that Abraham, a man who lived long ago, was “Jehovah’s friend.” (James 2:23) Do you know why he was?— The Bible answers that Abraham obeyed God. He obeyed even when what he was asked to do was hard. So to be Jehovah’s friend, we must do what pleases him, just as Abraham did and just as the Great Teacher has always done.—Genesis 22:1-14; John 8:28, 29; Hebrews 11:8, 17-19.
Jesus told his apostles: “You are my friends if you do what I am commanding you.” (John 15:14) Since everything that Jesus told people came from Jehovah, Jesus was saying that his friends were people who did what God said they should do. Yes, all his friends loved God.
Some of the closest friends of the Great Teacher were his apostles, whose pictures you can see on page 75 of this book. They traveled with him and helped him do the preaching work. Jesus spent much of his time with these men. They ate together. They talked about God together. And they did other things together. But Jesus had many other friends. He would stay with them, and they had good times together.
One family that Jesus liked to stay with lived in the small town of Bethany, just outside the big city of Jerusalem. Do you remember them?— They were Mary and Martha and their brother, Lazarus. Jesus called Lazarus his friend. (John 11:1, 5, 11) The reason Jesus loved this family and enjoyed being with them was that they loved Jehovah and served Him.
This does not mean that Jesus was not kind to people who did not serve God. He was. He even went to their homes and ate with them. This caused some to say that Jesus was “a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” (Matthew 11:19) The fact is that Jesus didn’t go to the homes of these people because he liked the way they lived. He visited them so that he could talk to them about Jehovah. He tried to help them to change from their bad ways and to serve God.
This happened one day in the city of Jericho. Jesus was just passing through on his way to Jerusalem. There was a crowd of people, and in the crowd was a man named Zacchaeus. He wanted to get a look at Jesus. But Zacchaeus was short, and he could not see because of the crowd. So he ran ahead along the road and climbed a tree in order to get a good look when Jesus went by.
When Jesus came to that tree, he looked up and said: ‘Hurry and get down, for today I will come to your house.’ But Zacchaeus was a rich man who had done bad things. Why did Jesus want to go to the house of such a man?—
It was not because Jesus liked the way that man lived. He went there to talk to Zacchaeus about God. He saw how that man had tried hard to see him. So he knew that Zacchaeus would probably listen. This was a good time to talk to him about the way that God says people should live.
So, what do we see happening now?— Zacchaeus likes the teachings of Jesus. He feels very sorry for having cheated people, and he is promising to give back money that he had no right to take. Then he becomes a follower of Jesus. Only then do Jesus and Zacchaeus become friends.—Luke 19:1-10.
If we learn from the Great Teacher, will we ever visit people who are not our friends?— Yes. But we won’t go to their house because we like the way they live. And we won’t do wrong things with them. We will visit them so that we can talk to them about God.
But our close friends are the ones we especially like to spend time with. To be the right kind of friends, they must be the kind that God likes. Some may not even know who Jehovah is. But if they want to learn about him, we can help them. And when the time comes that they love Jehovah as we do, then we can become close friends.
There is another way to find out if a person would make a good friend. Watch the things that he does. Does he do unkind things to other people and then laugh about it? That’s not right, is it?— Is he always getting into trouble? We wouldn’t want to get into trouble with him, would we?— Or does he do bad things on purpose and then think that he is smart because he didn’t get caught? Even if that person didn’t get caught, God saw what he did, didn’t He?— Do you think that people who do such things would be good friends for us to have?—
Why not get your Bible? Let’s see what it says about how our companions affect our lives. The scripture is at 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse 33. Do you have it?— It reads: “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.” This means that if we go with bad people, we may become bad. And it is also true that good companions help us to form good habits.
Let’s never forget that the most important Person in our life is Jehovah. We don’t want to spoil our friendship with him, do we?— So we must be careful to make friends with only those who love God.