One of the greatest blessings we enjoy on earth is friendship. Many of us praise God for friendships that have lasted over the years - in spite of disagreements and misunderstandings. Sadly, friendships come to an end, even between outstanding Christian workers. Paul and Barnabas had a sharp contention over the usefulness of young John Mark and so they separated (Acts 15.36-39). While mutual esteem was maintained, things were never quite the same again.
We have a Friend who never fails. He sticks closer than a brother (Prov 18.24). Despite the sorrow He feels when we fall short of divine holiness, the Lord Jesus is still "a friend of...sinners" (Lk 7.34). Thus we have One who ever lives to intercede for us before the Throne, having won the right so to do by His sacrifice as a holy, spotless victim (Heb 7.25-27).
This Friend is always with us "even unto the end of the world" (Mt 28.20). Whether in the howling cold of Canada's North-West or in the torrid heat of an African village, He never tires or makes excuses to go away. He has given His word and it is indeed, as David Livingstone said, "the word of a gentleman".
To keep one or two close friends over a lifetime is an achievement. Sometimes, it just doesn't happen but this matchless Friend is ever near despite our deserving only His rejection and hatred. Well might we exclaim with the Shulamite: "This is my beloved, and this is my friend" (Song 5.16)!