Kristie Anyabwile continues to give us insight into what type of friendships we should seek and cultivate. You can read Part 1 here.

The Prayer Warrior – Epaphras (v. 12-13).

We all need a friend like this, who struggles on our behalf in their prayers! This was Epaphras. He founded the church at Colossae, and most likely filled Paul in on the threats to the Church. He had spent plenty of time loving and caring for them, and would know their prayer needs more than most.

It would take volumes to list all the ways I’ve been personally encouraged, strengthened, bolstered in faith, stirred to obedience, filled with joy, grown in my walk with Christ, because of the prayers of dear friends. If I ask them to pray, they pray then and there. If I don’t ask them to pray, they pray anyway! Not only for me, but these are women and men who are known for their consistent intimacy with the Lord in prayer. O, to be and to have that kind of friend!

The Loved and Loyal Friend – Luke (v. 14).
This was his friend, Dr. Luke. He had accompanied Paul on some of his missionary journeys and was with him during his imprisonments (Philem. 24; 2 Tim. 4:11; Col. 4:14). Like Aristarchus and others, Luke was a faithful friend who was dearly loved by Paul. We all need those friends whom we love with a godly love , who would come barefoot and pajama-clad with a Scripture and a prayer and a Snickers in our time of need. They would remain loyal and love us to the end.

The Friends Who Fail Us and Fall for the World – Demas (v. 14).
Demas is with Paul in prison, suffering for the sake of the gospel, and stands alongside Luke as one of Paul’s close companions (Philem. 24). We learn later that Demas tried to have one foot in the kingdom and one foot in the world. Paul informs Timothy, “For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica” (2 Tim. 4:10). I’m sure as they travelled and as Paul kept Demas in his close circle he could see the world pulling on Demas’ heart. Did Paul cast him aside? No, he kept him close, continued to encourage him, until his heart proved where his loyalties lied.

When the going got tough, Demas got going. It’s not clear if he defected from the faith, or if he was just tired of suffering and preferred the temporal comforts of this world rather than suffer for the world to come. We all have friends who don’t seem to be walking in a manner worthy of the Lord (Col. 1:10), and we need to follow Paul’s example by keeping them close, encouraging them, praying fervently that they “be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God…, strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy” (Co.l 1:9-11).

As I read through Paul’s list of friends in Colossians 4:10-17, I became more aware of the joy and challenge it is to prayerfully consider what kind of friend I am, to praise God for these examples in my own life, and purposely seek out true friends who are faithful and dear to me in so many ways.

A Friend Who Sticks Closer Than a Brother

Friends serve wonderful purposes in our lives, and we can be the kind of friend who is loyal, faithful, comforting, prayerful, even with our flaws and issues. For the Christian, no earthly friendship compares to the friendship we share with Christ through faith in him.

During Old Testament times, only Moses and Abraham were called friends of God (Ex. 33:11; Is. 41:8), but now Christ calls us his friends.  But why? Because He loved us in a way no other friend could possibly compare. He gave his life for us.

I have close friends. I even have one or two whom I believe would give up their own life to preserve mine if the circumstance presented itself. But that would be trading one physical life for another.

What Christ did was monumental. He existed before time and gave up the glories of heaven, to be born in human flesh. He came into the world for the grand purpose of saving his people from their sins. He had to suffer and be ridiculed and die, and he triumphed over death and the grave in his resurrection, so that I could have not just physical life, but life that lasts for all eternity.

Jesus! Lover of my soul;

Friends may fail me, foes assail me,

He, my Savior, makes me whole.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!

Hallelujah! what a Friend!

Saving, helping, keeping, loving,

He is with me to the end.

Jesus! what a Strength in weakness!

Let me hide myself in Him.

Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,

He, my Strength, my victory wins.

Jesus! what a Help in sorrow!

While the billows over me roll,

Even when my heart is breaking,

He, my Comfort, helps my soul.

Jesus! what a Guide and Keeper!

While the tempest still is high,

Storms about me, night overtakes me,

He, my Pilot, hears my cry.

Jesus! I do now receive Him,

[or Jesus! I do now adore Him,]

More than all in Him I find.

He hath granted me forgiveness,

I am His, and He is mine.
-J. Wil­bur Chap­man, 1910