Freed to live through the death of another.

Category: friendship (Page 1 of 2)

Friendship Quotes — Part 4

Continuing on our series with quotes from Hugh Black’s book, Friendship.

This time, I’m offering a series of longer, connected quotes. In this section, Black has finished arguing for the limitations of human friendship. He has lamented these shortcomings, but now turns his attention to the theocentric reason for these built-in limitations to human relationships.

I find this absolutely fascinating. Although, for the record, there is more than one point in here where Black just about blatantly plagiarizes Augustine. But hey, Augustine lived before copyrights existed anyway, so whatever. Wink

So the human heart has ever craved for a relationship, deeper and more lasting than any possible among men, undisturbed by change, unmenaced by death, unbroken by fear, unclouded by doubt. The limitations and losses of earthly friendship are meant to drive us to the higher friendship. … The sickness of heart which is the lot of all, the loneliness which not even the voice of a friend can dispel, the grief which seems to stop the pulse of life itself, find their final meaning in this compulsion toward the divine.

We have some training in the love of friends, as if only to prove to us that without love we cannot live. All our intimacies are but broken lights of the love of God. They are methods of preparation for the great communion. … There have been implanted in man an instinct, and a need, which make him discontented, till he find content in God.

The solitude of life in its ultimate issue is because we were made for a higher companionship. It is just in the innermost sanctuary, shut to every other visitant, that God meets us. We are driven to God by the needs of the heart. If the existence of God was due to a purely intellectual necessity; if we believed in him only because our reason gave warrant for the faith; it would not matter much whether he really is, and whether we really can know him. But when the instincts of our nature, and the necessities of the heart-life demand God, we are forced to believe. In moments of deep feeling, when all pretence is silenced, a man may be still able to question the existence of God, but he does not question his own need of God.

Friendship Quotes — Part 3

Here are some more great quotes from Hugh Black’s classic, Friendship.

The disputatious person for this reason never makes a good friend. In friendship men look for peace, and concord, and some measure of content. There are enough battles to fight outside, enough jarring and jostling in the street, enough disputing in the marketplace, enough discord in the workaday world, without having to look for contention in the realm of the inner life also. There, if anywhere, we ask for an end to strife. Friendship is the sanctuary of the heart, and the peace of the sanctuary should brood over it. Its chiefest glory is that the dust and noise of contest are excluded.

Christ made forgiveness the test of spirituality. If we do not know the grace of forgiveness, we do not know how gracious life may be. The highest happiness is not a matter of possessions and material gains, but has its source in a heart at peace; and thus it is that the renewing of friendship has a spiritual result. If we are revengeful, censorious, judging others harshly, always putting the worst construction on a word or an act, uncharitable, unforgiving, we certainly cannot claim kinship with the spirit of the Lord Jesus.

Whatever be our faith and works, and however correct be our creed and conduct, if we are giving place to anger, if we are stiffening ourselves in strife and disdain, we are none of his, who was meek and lowly of heart.

The world thinks we idealize our friend, and tells us that love is proverbially blind. Not so: it is only love that sees…. We only see what dull eyes never see at all. If we wonder what another man sees in his friend, it should be the wonder of humility, not the supercilious wonder of pride. He sees something which we are not permitted to witness. Beneath and amongst what looks only like worthless slag, there may glitter the pure gold of a fair character. That anybody in the world should be got to love us, and to see in us not what colder eyes see, not even what we are but what we may be, should of itself make us humble and gentle in our criticism of others’ friendships. Our friends see the best in us, and by that very fact call forth the best from us.

Friendship Quotes – Part 2

Here are some more great quotes on friendship from Hugh Black’s book, Friendship.

A faithful friend can be trusted not to speak merely soft words of flattery. It is often the spectator who sees most of the game, and, if the spectator is at the same time keenly interested in us, he can have a more unbiased opinion than we can possibly have.

There is nothing so important as the choice of friendship; for it both reflects character and affects it. A man is known by the company he keeps. This is an infallible test; for his thoughts, and desires, and ambitions, and loves are revealed here. He gravitates naturally to his congenial sphere. And it affects character; for it is the atmosphere he breathes. It enters into his blood and makes the circuit of his veins. All love assimilates to what it loves. A man is moulded into likeness of the lives that come nearest him.

If every evil man is a centre of contagion, every good man is a centre of healing. … The choice of friends is therefore one of the most serious affairs in life, just because a man becomes moulded into the likeness of what he loves in his friend.

Friends should be chosen by a higher principle of selection than any worldly one, of pleasure, or usefulness, or by weak submission to the evil influences of our lot. They should be chosen for character, for goodness, for truth and trustworthiness, because they have sympathy with us in our best thoughts and holiest aspirations, because they have community of mind in the things of the soul. All other connections are fleeting and imperfect from the nature of the case.

The only permanent severance of heart comes through lack of a common spiritual footing. If one soul goes up the mountain top, and the other stays down among the shadows, if the two have not the same high thoughts, and pure desires, and ideals of service, they cannot remain together except in form. Friends need not be identical in temperament and capacity, but they must be alike in sympathy. An unequal yoke becomes either an intolerable burden, or will drag one of the partners away from the path his soul at its best would have loved to tread.

The real source of separation is ultimately a spiritual one. We cannot walk with another unless we are agreed (Amos 3.3). The lapse of friendship is often due to this, that one has let the other travel on alone. If one has sought pleasure and the other has sought truth; if one has cumbered his life with the trivial and the petty, and the other has filled his with high thoughts and noble aspirations; if their hearts are on different levels, it is natural that they should now be apart. We cannot stay behind with the camp-followers, and at the same time fight in the van with the heroes.

Friendship Quotes – Part 1

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to preach a series of messages on friendship at our church. As part of my study, I’ve been enjoying a book simply entitled Friendship by Hugh Black, published by Joshua Press.

Here are some of the quotes that I’ve enjoyed:

‘The religious life, in spite of all the unnatural experiments of monasticism and all its kindred ascetic forms, is pre-eminently a life of friendship. It is individual in its root, and social in its fruits. It is when two or three are gathered together that religion becomes a fact for the world. The joy of religion will not be hid and buried in a man’s own heart. “Come, see a man that told me all that I ever did” (John 4:29), is the natural outcome of the first wonder and the first faith. It spreads from soul to soul by the impact of soul on soul, from the original impact of the great soul of God.’

‘Christ’s ideal is the ideal of a kingdom, men banded together in a common cause, under common laws, serving the same purpose of love.’

‘The very existence of the church as a body of believers is due to this necessity of our nature, which demands opportunity for the interchange of Christian sentiment. The deeper the feeling, the greater is the joy of sharing it with another. There is a strange felicity, a wondrous enchantment, which comes from true intimacy of heart, and close communion of soul, and the result is more than mere fleeting joy. When it is shared in the deepest thoughts and highest aspirations, when it is built on a common faith, and lives by a common hope, it brings perfect peace. No friendship has done its work until it reaches the supremest satisfaction of spiritual communion.’

‘We cannot live a self-centred life, without feeling that we are missing the true glory of life. We were made for social intercourse, if only that the highest qualities of our nature might have an opportunity for development. The joy, which a true friendship gives, reveals the existence of the want of it, perhaps previously unfelt. It is a sin against ourselves to let our affections wither. This sense of incompleteness is an argument in favour of its possible satisfaction; our need is an argument for its fulfillment. Our hearts demand love, as truly as our bodies demand food.’

‘The divine meaning of a true friendship is that it is often the first unveiling of the secret of love. It is not an end in itself, but has most of its worth in what it leads to, the priceless gift of seeing with the heart rather than with the eyes. To love one soul for its beauty and grace and truth is to open the way to appreciate all beautiful and true and gracious souls, and to recognize spiritual beauty wherever it is seen.’


When our TAG (‘Truth Application Group’) finished up last week we were sharing with each other what we had learned through the group and during the time period of the group. For me, the answer had several parts, but one of the main things that I’ve been thinking about since we started meeting (and one of the things that’s been the greatest blessing to my heart!) is the topic of fellowship.

Too many people use the word and never think about what it means. ‘Fellowship’ is roughly synonymous with ‘participation’; in fact, one Greek word is translated as either ‘fellowship’ or ‘participation’ throughout the NT. To have fellowship, then, means something like ‘to participate in something along with another person who is also participating in the same thing.

Christian fellowship is even more specific, though. 1 John teaches that because we’re in Christ, we have fellowship with God (within the life of the Triune God himself). We have fellowship with one another, then, when we each participate in the life of God and share that experience with each other so that each of us can better experience the life of God (by sharing the other’s experience of the life of God).

That’s all really wordy and convoluted, so I asked my cousin and really cool graphic designer, Josh Rivers, to do a little graphic for me. It’s below.

What I want to highlight from the above picture is this: shared life experiences does not equal fellowship. Just having things in common in this life (ie. being the same age, same marital status, same life stage, etc.) is not fellowship. Fellowship is sharing in each other’s experience of the life of God. It is necessarily God-centred and God-focused.

The lesson from that is this: If we choose our Christian friends the same way the world chooses their non-Christian friends (ie. how are you like me? what earthly things do we have in common? are we the same age / gender? do you have the same interests?) we’re missing out on more than just fellowship with each other. We’re missing out on wonderful, new experiences in the life of God. What a shame!

Below is another graphic from Josh. This one simply shows how as each one grows closer to God and experiences more of his life, it increases the true fellowship that each person can have with each other.

Do you want to be a good friend to a brother or sister? Grow closer to God and you will be inviting them into the life of God, revealing God to them. This is the essence of friendship.


I love our church. So does my pastor. A while ago he posted 34 things he loves about our church.

One Sunday night, when the weather was nice and the service had been over for more than an hour, and people were still hanging around talking to each other outside (because those of us responsible for locking the building had kicked them out), I began to wonder to myself if a church could ever get to a place where her people love each other too much.

I suppose in one sense, that could happen. If our love for each other ever superseded our love for Christ himself, or if our delight was in people, rather than in the God whose image is displayed in those people.

But when I thought about it more, the silliness of such a thought became apparent rather quickly. One can never love another person too much. No one could ever love more than Christ has loved (since this is how we know what love is) and clearly, Christ did not love too much.

But that got me to thinking that I needed a clearer definition of love. You see, when we think of love for another, we think of something which could supersede our delight in Christ, or something which could be taken too far, so that it is not in the other person’s best interest. But really, at that point, it’s not love at all… it’s selfish delight in another person for the gratification of my own fleshly desires for entertainment or companionship or a sense of belonging or whatever else.

So here’s the working definition of love that I came up with to help me evaluate whether I’m really loving someone, or whether I’m just having nice thoughts about them for my own benefit.

Love is

that affection or passion which motivates me to pursue another’s ultimate good, regardless of the cost to myself. 

Feel free to comment on that, if you like. I’m hoping to elaborate on that some more in the days to come.

It’s a Wonderful Life

The end of the school semester is almost upon us. The end of 2006 is almost upon us.The season when people like to reflect on the year that was, and ponder their life in the year to come is just beginning.

As I was getting ready for bed last night I got to thinking… I have been so incredibly blessed. In so many ways I’ve received infinitely (and that’s not even exaggerating a little bit) better than what I have deserved.

I have been blessed with the chance to be in a church that is dedicated to teaching the Scriptures, attend a seminary that remains faithful to the word of God, and have friends who are faithful to expound the Bible to me. In short, I seem to just go from one opportunity to learn to another.

That’s it. That’s my life. Always learning, wherever I am. Here are some of the things I’ve been learning about lately:

  1. I’ve been learning about the glory of Christ from John Owen (Works, v.1).
  2. I’ve been learning about friendship from Esther Edwards Burr (from her letters to her friend Sarah Prince).
  3. I’ve been learning about parenthood from my one-month-old daughter (who, by the way, thinks I still have a lot to learn!)
  4. I’ve been learning about leadership from my pastor.
  5. I’ve been challenged in the areas of prayer and evangelism by one of my closest friends, Rielly.
  6. I’ve been encouraged to work harder and serve more by my always-loving, always working wife, Stacey.
  7. I’ve been learning lots about the nature of sin: why I need to hate it more, what it’s real goals with me are, and how to put it to death, from John Owen (Works, v.6). I’ve been going through this together with a couple of brothers from church every week.
  8. I’ve been challenged to love Christ more and to be more disciplined and more productive with my time through some accountability with my friend Josh.
  9. I’ve been learning tons about how to worship Jesus at Christmas-time from my dear friends, Bob Kauflin, Mark Altrogge, and co. at Sovereign Grace Ministries who have no idea how much they’ve blessed the saints through their various ministries.
  10. I’ve been learning about perseverance from my friend Darrin Brooker, who–believe it or not–has actually been a Sabres fan for a while now, and is still sane.

I could go on and on, but I won’t because I need to go to sleep.

Suffice it to say, God is good, and it’s a wonderful life.

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