“Do we want a wise and prudent friend? Such a friend is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Man’s friendship is sadly blind. He often injures those he loves by injudicious kindness: he often errs in the counsel he gives; he often leads his friends into trouble by had advice, even when he means to help them. He sometimes keeps them back from the way of life, and entangles them in the vanities of the world, when they have well nigh escaped. The friendship of the Lord Jesus is not so: it always does us good, and never evil.
The Lord Jesus never spoils His friends by extravagant indulgence. He gives them everything that is really for their benefit; He withholds nothing from them that is really good; but He requires them to take up their cross daily and follow Him. He bids them endure hardships as good soldiers: He calls on them to fight the good fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil. His people often dislike it at the time, and think it hard; but when they reach heaven they will see it was all well done.
The Lord Jesus makes no mistakes in managing His friends’ affairs. He orders all their concerns with perfect wisdom: all things happen to them at the right time, and in the right way. He gives them as much of sickness and as much of health, as much of poverty and as much of riches, as much of sorrow and as much of joy, as He sees their souls require. He leads them by the right way to bring them to the city of habitation. He mixes their bitterest cups like a wise physician, and takes care that they have not a drop too little or too much. His people often misunderstand His dealings; they are silly enough to fancy their course of life might have been better ordered: but in the resurrection-day they will thank God that not their will, but Christ’s was done.
Look round the world and see the harm which people are continually getting from their friends. Mark how much more ready men are to encourage one another in worldliness and levity, than to provoke to love and good works. Think how often they meet together, not for the better, but for the worse,—not to quicken one another’s souls in the way to heaven, but to confirm one another in the love of this present world. Alas, there are thousands who are wounded unexpectedly in the house of their friends!
And then turn to the great Friend of sinners, and see how different a thing is His friendship from that of man. Listen to Him as He walks by the way with His disciples; mark how He comforts, reproves, and exhorts with perfect wisdom. Observe how He times His visits to those He loves, as to Mary and Martha at Bethany. Hear how He converses, as He dines on the shore of the sea of Galilee: ‘Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me?’ (John 21:16.) His company is always sanctifying. His gifts are always for our soul’s good; His kindness is always wise; His fellowship is always to edification. One day of the Son of Man is better than a thousand in the society of earthly friends: one hour spent in private communion with Him, is better than a year in kings’ palaces. Never, never was there such a wise friend as Jesus Christ.” J. C. Ryle, Practical Religion: Being Plain Papers on the Daily Duties, Experience, Dangers, and Privileges of Professing Christians. (London: Charles Murray, 1900), 343–345. [Italics original.]