Abraham was called a friend of God. “Art not thou our God, Who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before Thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham Thy friend for ever?” II Chronicles 20:7. James also said, “And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” James 2:23. In the book, Patriarchs and Prophets, 128, Ellen White wrote these words: “Abraham, ‘the friend of God,’ set us a worthy example. His was a life of prayer. Wherever he pitched his tent, close beside it was set up his altar.”
To become a friend of God, Abraham spent much time with Him on his knees praying. He set up an altar—morning and evening worship. I cannot think of anything more wonderful than having the Creator of the universe, the One Who holds all of the stars and planets in their place and conducts all of the little duties here on this earth and watches over each little thing, as a personal friend. Can you imagine what that means? We need to come to the place where we consider God not only our God and our Creator, which He is, and we do not want to take any of the reverence from that, but we also consider Him as a friend Who hears us, watches what we do and tends to things that happen around us so that our life can walk straight on to the kingdom of heaven.
Considering God as a friend helps to have Him closer to us and helps us to realize that we can turn and talk to Him. It is necessary to come to the place that when you are talking to God you realize that you are talking to a real person. He is your friend. He loves you.
One time, when I was a child, I heard a minister make the remark that the Bible is a love story from God to man. I thought that was funny and I didn’t understand that. But as the years have gone by and I study and read my Bible, I understand from the promises and from the loving things God has told us that it really is a love book to us as human beings. As we read and study we become conscious of His presence. That experience is crucial if someday we are going to be able to walk into the kingdom of God. We have to be able to recognize down here on earth that we have God’s presence, and as we talk and work, or whatever we do, we do it to please Him and not to please man.
Jesus told us, in John 17:3, “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” To know Jesus Christ is to have eternal life. We all have a desire to have eternal life, so what we need to do is learn to know God, to know Him better.
Jeremiah 9:23, 24 says, “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches.” This is the part of the verse I want you to pay close attention to. “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.”
He says, “in these things I delight.” He delights in loving kindness.
He has given us a whole chapter in the Bible dedicated to teaching us about this subject. This is found in I Corinthians 13:1: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” Just to talk and talk is like sounding brass and tinkling cymbals, unless it is in love. We should love one another as we talk to them and think of them.
Paul continues in verses 2 and 3: “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. [Charity is the same as love.] And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” The most important thing is that we love one another, and if we love one another we will love God.
Continuing with verse 4, “Charity [love] suffereth long, and is kind … .” You know, sometimes it takes a long time for a thought to get through, but “love suffereth long.” Sometimes people forget, and we say, “Well, I told you that before.” These quick answers, like, “I told you that before; why don’t you see it?” are not really love. Love suffereth long, and if a person has to be told the same thing ten times, it is still to be with love—it is to be kind and thoughtful.
“Charity [love] envieth not … .” Don’t try to get better than the next fellow. Enjoy who and what he is and be happy for his accomplishments and that he is where he is. And “charity [love] vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.” It is not trying to show himself and say, “Hey, this is me; would you pay attention to me?”
“Love doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own …” Verse 5. If you watch children, you quickly acknowledge that they have to be trained. Children do so many things for one purpose, and that is to get attention. But according to I Corinthians 13, we don’t do that. Love does not behave itself unseemly, does not seek her own but seeks others.
It “is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.” Sometimes we forget, and it is so easy to get provoked. We may lose something and find out that somebody has put it where it does not belong, and we are provoked at these things. But love does not do this, because you love the other person so much that it does not bother you. You don’t think evil about people. It is very easy to see somebody do something and then judge their motive in your mind. But love does not think evil about others.
“Charity [love] never faileth: whether there be prophecies, they shall fail …” Verse 8. Now, that really used to bother me, because I always thought that prophecies were supposed to be for sure. But if you stop and think about it, there are prophecies that fail because the conditions of the promises are not lived up to. There were prophecies for Jerusalem that it would stand forever, but look at what happened to it. The city was destroyed. However, in the end the prophecy will be fulfilled and it will stand forever in the New Jerusalem making the prophecy sure. The prophecy that it would stand here on earth failed because men failed God. So, prophecies may fail. “Whether there be tongues, they shall cease … .” We all eventually pass away. “Whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” There have been a lot of really bright people in this world, but when their time comes, they too vanish away.
“For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” Verses 9, 10.
It is so wonderful that the Lord has described the meaning of loving kindness. What else does it say in Jeremiah 9:24? “Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” He wants us to know that He exercises loving kindness—so He has given us the description of it. The next thing He says is that He exercises judgment. I read a little bit about this in the Spirit of Prophecy. God’s judgment is true, and you and I need not worry about being mistreated. We do not need to worry about when we get a raw deal on money, care or any other thing, or somebody thinks something about us that is not so and we get treated wrongly. We do not need to worry about those things, because God says He exercises judgment. He takes care of those things. He says, in Romans 12:19, “Vengeance is Mine.” You and I do not need to worry about vengeance or, if you have gotten a wrong deal, about paying somebody back, because the Lord is taking care of those things. He will exercise judgment. We on this earth need to let God take care of the judgments.
The last gift mentioned in Jeremiah 9:24 is so important and so wonderful. He exerciseth “righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” He wants to give us His robe of righteousness! Not one of us can really do right. We just cannot do the right thing all of the time. It is impossible, except as God exercises His righteousness and gives us His robe of righteousness. We must claim this robe of righteousness and practice it, because He says, “for in these things I delight.”
The three things that He says He delights in are: loving kindness, judgment and righteousness. Those are the three things that, as we study, we will become acquainted with God, Whom to know is to have eternal life. Surely each one of us wants to have eternal life. That is one reason we believe. He wants us to enter His kingdom, but the only way we can enter it is to have His beautiful robe of righteousness. We must wear this robe made up of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance (Galatians 5:22, 23). These are the fibers that make up His robe. It is well for us to contemplate what God has for us, the wonderful things He will do for us and the goal that He has for us. His goal is that one day we will be with Him in glory. The only way we will do that is to accept His robe of righteousness and wear it day by day.
Remember, love suffers long and is kind. With this love we can perfect a character that will fit into the society of heaven. We are told to practice the kind of life that will be accepted in the society of angels. In The Signs of the Times, July 18, 1878, it says, “The principles of the commandments, carried out in the daily life ennoble and sanctify the heart and mind and give one a moral fitness through Jesus Christ, for the society of holy angels. Our all wise heavenly Father knew what rules were required to guard man from sin and to regulate his life, leading him to practice such virtues as would make him a fit subject for heaven.”
Just think, down here on earth we can begin to enjoy those blessings. It is here that we need to build a character that can stand and be clothed with the robe of Christ’s righteousness.
Ruth Grosboll, matriarch of Steps to Life, lived a long life in the service of her Master. She served as a missionary nurse in Myanmar, formerly Burma. In her later years she held the position of receptionist and correspondent at Steps to Life Ministry, blessing many people with her heartfelt encouraging letters. She is sadly missed to this day.