One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
It is not the number but the depth of relationships that matter. It is good to have many companions. We are meant to be social creatures, and we should seek and enjoy the acquaintance of many people. And yet, what will sustain us through the trials of life and enrich our happiness is deep, meaningful friendship.
Such friendship arises both out of active and passive experience. You ought to desire and seek close friends. Many of us are reluctant to do so for various reasons, mostly out of timidity and fear of becoming vulnerable. But once a close friendship is formed, then it is a great blessing. For it is good to have a friend who sticks closer than a brother, who can understand and tolerate your moods and failings, who will encourage you when you are down and reprimand you when you are at fault.
But always remember the One who calls you his friend and is not ashamed to be known as your brother. No human friendship is guaranteed to last. We can offend both brother (and sister) and friend, and they can offend us. There is the one friend, Jesus Christ, who has already demonstrated a steadfast love that will never die. Keep up your relationship with him today; he is already sticking closer than a brother.
1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker— 2 also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home:
3 Grace and peace to you[a] from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
4 I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. 6 I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. 7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.
Paul’s Plea for Onesimus
8 Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, 9 yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— 10 that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus,[b] who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.
12 I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. 13 I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. 15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.
17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. 20 I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.
22 And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.
23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. 24 And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers.
25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.