Our son rang me recently to say he had been greatly moved to find out more about his great grandfather who served in the Royal Lancaster Regiment in the first world war and had been praised for gallant and distinguished service by the Secretary of State for war – Winston Churchill. He had signed up along with many friends and neighbours and I’m sure he would have been motivated by the fact he was serving with his Pals. Many battalions had been recruited and became known as the Pals battalions. Those recruiting them for the front line probably thought and believed they would make extra effort for their pals.
One of the reasons I have preached for so many years on the subject of encouragement is that often it is in short supply. The love the Lord commands us to have for our brothers and sisters is self-sacrificing. The one another scriptures that are rooted in the new commandment to love one another show us how important it is to encourage, serve, honour, submit, etc. We start to relate as blood brothers and friends who can be depended on.
When Paul was escaping from Damascus he would not have got very far without the rope holders who were risking their own lives as they lowered him in a basket over the city wall. Tenzing Norgay (sherpa) was chosen by Hillary to climb Everest with him because he could be depended upon. Tenzing had already saved his life in a practice climb.Time and time again in scripture we see people who like the Lord can be depended upon. On one of the occasions King Saul tried to kill David it was his friend Jonathan who brought him encouraging and strengthening words. “Don’t be afraid, he said, My father will not lay a hand on you. You shall be king over Israel…” (1Samuel 23:14-18).
In Proverbs 20:6 we read – “Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful friend who can find” In Job 6:14&15 he says: A despairing man should have devotion from his friends – but my brothers are as undependable as an intermittent stream” In other words they are fair weather friends… Paul said about Timothy in Philippians 2:20 “I have no one like him who takes a genuine interest in your welfare” Timothy wasn’t a fair weather friend, he suffered and worked alongside Paul for twenty years in good times and bad. Let’s all seek to serve one another in the same way and to become a dependable friend.