When does a friend become family?
Pressure can offer such an opportunity. For example, a friend may become family when his devotion survives false accusation and rejection, and when he lays down his life for the other despite the treachery of wickedness which threatens to choke out all hope of recovery in the relationship. Samwise Gamgee exhibited these qualities in the darkest hours of his friendship with Frodo Baggins, and indeed of the entire Middle Earth. In the end, he carried Frodo for a distance up the rugged terrain of Mt. Doom. Yet even then, Frodo betrayed his trust and would have kept the ring for his own, were it not for the persistent interference of Gollum, who finally captured the ring to his doom, and the world’s salvation, perishing with the ring in the fires of Mt. Doom.
Frodo would never have succeeded in his quest if not for the stubborn friendship of Sam, and his precarious relationship with poor Smeagol.
Sam and Frodo walked through the fires of tribulation; in so doing, they became family. All the more poignant given their inevitable parting of ways in the end. Sam began their quest as Frodo’s faithful Gardner. He ended it as his brother.
When you look back on your life consider this: who has been your Samwise Gamgee? Who has been at your side despite your faults, your sin, even your rejection of them? Who has carried you in your darkest hour? Who has risked all they hold dear to help you achieve God’s purposes in your life? Who has been your friend despite having valid reasons simply to walk away and never return? Do you have someone like that in your life?
John 15:9-15 (NIV) says:
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
Perhaps it would be appropriate to call them family, whether brother or sister. After all, they’ve laid down their lives to love us in the way of Jesus Christ. How can we not love them in kind, and follow their example as we learn to love others?