Thou hast a Friend…

JC-RyleIt may not be so easy as some think to find true friends. “The poor is disliked even by his neighbor, but the rich has many friends.” (Proverbs 14.20). “Many friends”, but what are they really worth? Are they not more like those who “show favoritism to gain advantage” (Jude 1.16)? There is One, however, who is beyond all praise, who is the “friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17), and who “sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18.24).

I want to recommend for your consideration the chapter, “The Best Friend” in J. C. Ryle’s book, Practical Religion, reissued in 2013 by Banner of Truth. Ryle was the first Bishop of Liverpool in the Church of England. This is a wonderfully eloquent account of Jesus Christ, the sinner’s Friend. I would recommend it highly. Ryle says to those who have found this Friend of all friends:

Think . . . of the mercy which has been shown thee, and learn to rejoice daily in thy Friend! What though thy body be bowed down with disease? What though thy poverty and trials be very great? What though thy earthly friends forsake thee, and thou art alone in the world? All this may be true: but if thou art in Christ, thou hast a Friend, a mighty Friend, a loving Friend, a wise Friend, a Friend that never fails. Oh, think, think much upon thy Friend!
Yet a little while and thy Friend shall come to take thee home, and thou shalt dwell with him for ever . . . and then thou shalt hear assembled worlds confess that he is the rich and happy man who has had Christ for his Friend.

Joseph Scriven’s hymn says it so well. Perhaps you know it:

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

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