Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog.
Human beings need each other for camaraderie and mutual protection. The same is true for us believers; we need the support and companionship of other Christians. Whether we’re a new believer or we’ve been a Christian for a while, we all need spiritual companions.
The principle of spiritual companionship in the Bible
The principle of spiritual companionship is clearly present throughout the Bible. For example, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor; for if they fall, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls and does not have another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm. But how can one be warm alone? And while a man may prevail against the one, the two will withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
No matter how strong we think we are in our faith, none of us are perfect. We all fall and fail the Lord. When we do, it’s easy to be discouraged by our sins or failures, and we may find it hard to go on in our Christian life. We need others to lift us when we fall, encourage us when we fail, and help us turn back to the Lord. And we can also do the same for them.
Spiritual companions are different from friends
Sheep in a field have a particular characteristic: they always flock together. It’s in their nature. That’s why it’s rare to see a single sheep all alone, far away from the flock. They naturally want to be together.
In the Lord’s eyes, we believers are His sheep. When we were saved, we were regenerated with the life of God. All believers in Christ share that same life. Now we as God’s sheep have an inherent need and desire to be with other believers for our mutual protection and benefit.
This is why spiritual companions aren’t the same as friends. No matter how close we may be to our friends who aren’t saved yet, the relationship we have with our spiritual companions is different. It’s much deeper because it’s based on our faith in Jesus and sharing the life of God.
We may still spend time with our friends, but our intention shouldn’t be to engage in the old things of our former way of life, some of which were sinful. Our goal should be to share with them how we got saved and how good Jesus is. We may find that a friend is receptive and will pray with us to receive the Lord Jesus.
And if we have spiritual companions, we can pray for our friends together. We can also fellowship about the best way to be with our friends and how to talk with them about the Lord.
The apostle Paul’s spiritual companions
The apostle Paul was strong in the Lord and in his faith. It might be easy to think he didn’t need any companions. But the book of Acts and Paul’s epistles show us something different.
Acts 16 records the journey of Paul and Silas as they traveled together to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. When they arrived at Philippi, they spoke to people about the Lord Jesus and were thrown into prison as a result. Verses 25 and 26 tell us what happened next:
“And about midnight Paul and Silas, while praying, sang hymns of praise to God; and the prisoners were listening to them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken. And instantly all the doors were opened and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.”
Even Paul might have felt hopeless if Silas, his companion, hadn’t been with him. But together, they prayed and sang hymns of praise to the Lord, despite their desperate situation. The prisoners and the jailer heard them singing and praising.
Paul also traveled to share the gospel with Barnabas, Titus, Luke, Timothy, and other brothers in the Lord. He wrote many of his epistles with one or more of his companions at his side and included their names in his greetings to the churches. These brothers were his spiritual companions, and they fellowshipped, prayed, and preached the gospel together.
Paul’s instruction to Timothy
Paul knew how important having spiritual companions was from his own experience. So in 2 Timothy 2:22, Paul instructed Timothy, a young brother:
“But flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
Here, Paul didn’t tell Timothy to withstand lusts by himself to prove how strong he was. Instead, he told Timothy to flee youthful lusts with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. By being with such companions, Timothy could not only flee lusts but also pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.
Pray for spiritual companions
The Lord neither expects nor wants us to live the Christian life all by ourselves. Whether we’re a new believer or one who’s been saved for a while, we all need spiritual companionship.
We can fellowship and read the Bible with our spiritual companions. We can pray for one another and bear each other’s burdens. In this way, we help each other rise up and go on even in difficult situations. If we’re floundering, our companions can strengthen us and encourage us to turn to the Lord.
Regardless of our stage in life, we all need companions so we can pray, fellowship, and pursue Christ together. If we don’t yet have a companion, we can ask the Lord to help us find at least one. The Lord will surely answer this prayer.
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