You can’t have too many friends.
We all need people we can count on and who will call us to greater accountability and faith.
Paul certainly had people around him who were with him to the end. These were people who had been faithful to him and to the Lord he proclaimed for many years.
Some of these people are mentioned near the end of Paul’s third missionary journey as he made plans to return to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4-6). That journey would be joyous in a way and very difficult in many other ways. This group of nine men traveled together to Jerusalem to deliver the offering to the saints in Jerusalem as a gift from Gentile believers.
Paul encouraged this offering for at least two reasons. First, he wanted to alleviate the suffering of his believing countrymen in Jerusalem. Second, he wanted to show the love and salvation of the Gentiles. He hoped those Jewish believers would see and appreciate their fellow believers among the Gentiles.
Paul also used these friends as his accountability partners. When you examine the passage (Acts 20:4-6), you notice that all the regions that had heard the gospel were represented. These would travel together as they carried the offering to the saints in Jerusalem.
While Paul may appear to many as a hard man, he had friends who were with him to the very end of his ministry. As you study through Paul’s letters, you notice his love for people and his desire to spend time with them. Paul almost always traveled with others. On the rare occasions when he traveled alone, he described his desire for fellowship with other believers. Near the end of his life he spoke of those of his friends who could not be with him and how he longed for them (2 Timothy 4:9-22).
We have new friends when we act as friends. As we are faithful and work in the gospel with other faithful people, we begin to slowly surround ourselves with people who can be counted on for life. When Jesus described the man who fell among thieves, he asked, “Who was a neighbor to the man?”
That must be the question to us. “Who are you a friend to?”