The Fundamentals of Friendship.
Cooper P Abrams III
INTRO: There is a lot said about love. Yet, on examination, most of the love that is talked about would be better called "physical attraction."
I. There are two types of loneliness.
1. The basis of any good relationship is true biblical love. This love is often misunderstood because it is confused with emotion. Love will cause emotion and emotional caring and love is important and we all need to feel it,because God made us that way, . . . but true biblical love is not based on emotion.
Missionary to Africa, Russell Champlin, said when he was in school he learned this definition:
“Love is a desire for and a delight in the well being of the one loved; leading to active and a self sacrificing effort of their behalf.”
Biblical love is based on God's grace. Grace is unmerited favor. In other words, God in His own heart decided to that He wanted the very best of us. He choose to care for us as Rom. 5:8, says "when we were still in our sins." God choose to love us, not based upon some goodness or trait he liked in us, but because he cared for our well being and future. Thus, God's grace is an expression of his will....to love us, because he choose to.
Any true lasting relationship must be based on grace. A marriage must be based on grace, as well as friendships. No marriage will last unless the couple are friends! Your wife/husband should be your best friend.
God made us to need one another. When we fail in our relationship and fail to exercise biblical grace and love one to another we become lonely and loneliness is a terrible condition.
2. Each of us need the others. It is important in our families and in our church.
A. First, there is a loneliness that occurs when we are isolated from our husband/wife, families and friends.
B. Second, and worse there is EMOTIONAL loneliness. This is a loneliness that can occur in the midst of a crowd. This is the most common type of loneliness. It occurs when we feel we have no one to share our deepest concerns, no one who truly understands our struggles or our joys.
1. The solution to the problem of loneliness is friendship. All human beings both need and crave friendship. We need someone who will rejoice with us or cry with us, someone who will comfort us when we crawl through valleys of despair or laugh with us on the mountaintops of happiness.
We need someone who is an ever present companion through the ins and outs of the daily grind, someone we can always
count on. In fact, friendships can be our most valuable possessions. The poet, Emily Dickenson, wrote "My friends are my estate."
2. Every human being needs friendships on two different levels. Note again our text!
C. We need HORIZONTAL friendships. We need deep meaningful friendships with other people. The proverb says, "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly." (Prov. 18:24)
In other words, we have to work on building friendships. Do you work on building friendships with others or let it happen?
True friendship is not one sided. Many are looking for friends who will help them, meet their need, be a friend to them, listen to their problems, be sympathetic and love them. They are seeking a selfish friendship in which they receive friendship....but often this is a one-sided affair.
Often people do not find the friends they want and remain lonely and wonder why? The KEY is in this verse. To have friends we must show ourselves to be friendly.
This is not just being friendly, but it means we unselfishly give support and friendship to others. We befriend other people. To find true friends we must UNSELFISHLY give ourselves to others.
Let me emphasize the that true friendship is not based on getting, but giving. Many people have a hard time finding true friendship because they are looking for what someone can do for them. They want people to love and care for them....and they fail because that is not the basis of true friendship. True friendship is like God’s grace....and His love it is giving unmerited favor to someone and first and fore most wanting to meet their need, to help them, to comfort them.
In giving friendship it is returned. The satisfaction of friendship...is in being a friend to others. . . .
D. We need a VERTICAL friendship. The basis of any sound lasting relationship begins with a relationship with our Creator and God. The second part of our verse says, "There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." That friend is Jesus Christ. Unless you have a personal friendship with Jesus, you'll never escape loneliness. Exodus 33:11 says,
"And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend."
James 2:23 says, "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."
Jesus said to His disciples in John 15:15, " Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you."</p>
E. I want to give you the blueprint for a lasting friendship. In fact, let's examine ten characteristics of genuine friendship.
I. Friends Listen. You see that takes effort does it. It is unselfishly listening to others. We want to tell people about our problems, but instead we unselfishly listen to others.
A. Genuine friends have open ears.
1. Many people are self-centered. They only want to talk about themselves. They don't listen when you speak because they are too busy thinking of what they will say next.
2. A true friend will listen when you speak. He wants to understand how you feel and what concerns you. He wants to help.
B. Because Jesus is our friend, He listens to us.
1. He said in Psalm 91:15 "He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him."
2. Isaiah 65:24 says of Him, "And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. "
3. He said in Luke 11:9 "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. "
4. James 5:16 reminds us "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man availteth much."
II. Friends Share Interests. A true friend puts others first and is unselfish in doing so. A true friend will put their interests aside help the one who needs their friendship.
A. Genuine friends always find common ground with us.
1. Sometimes God brings special friends into our lives who have much in common with us.
2. Though you may have friend with whom you have no common interest, your best friends have something in common with you.
B. Because Jesus is our friend, He sought common ground with us.
1. Jesus found common ground by becoming one of us. He loved us so much He became one of us. Philippians 2:7 says that He "made Himself of no reputation, took upon himself the form of a servant, made in the likeness of men."
2. In fact, when He came, He not only limited His power as God, He endured every possible frustration and pain of man.
Hebrews 4:15, "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
C. Can you see how this would work out in our families and in our church.
Often we do not concern ourselves with the spouse or family. We let them be a part of what we want to do. This is a selfish relationship.
In our churches. A pastor friend of mine some months ago told me of a man who had attended the church for many years. He left and went to another church. He told the pastor that his needs were not being met there. Yet, I went to the church myself for many years and He and his wife had only a partly relationship with the church. They did not participate in most of the activities. They were members of the church, but people knew they were not really committed to it.
I predict they will in time after the newness is worn off, find that their new church did not meet their needs either. Can you see why?
III. Friends Protect. Instead of wanting and seeking protection for ourselves....we freely offer it unselfishly to others. We put their needs first.
IV. Friends Tell the Truth. That too is an unselfish act. We care enough to be honest and seek to offer true help. Jesus Christ does that for us. He tells us that we are sinners that we might find salvation. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.”
A. Genuine friends always look out for us.
1. Walter Winchell has said, "A friend is one who walks in when others walk out."
2. Jonathan was a genuine friend to King David. When Jonathan's father, Saul, planned to kill David, Jonathan warned him and helped him escape.
3. How do good friends protects us?
a. They know how to keep private things private.
Proverbs 17:9 says, "He that covereth a transgression seeketh love, But he who repeateth a matter separateth very friends."
Proverbs 16:28 says, "A forward (perverse) man soweth
strife, And a whisperer separateth the best of friends."
b. They will not allow others to speak badly of us. I
recently read of a mother who decked another mother because she made fun of her handicapped child. If necessary, they fight for us.
B. Because Jesus is our friend, He protects us.
He protects us today. Psalm 125:2 says, "As the mountains round about Jerusalem, So the Lord is around about his people from henceforth and even forever." Psalm 34:7 says, "The angel of the LORD encampeth all around those who fear Him, And delivereth them."
A. Genuine friends are always honest with us.V. Friends Overlook Faults. You see true friendship is about others.....not ourselves. How many of us have faults.....? RAISE YOUR HANDS....
1. Oscar Wilde wrote, "A true friend always stabs you in the front." Proverbs 27:6 says "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."B. Because Jesus is our friend, He deals with us in loving honesty.
2. Sometimes we need to be told the truth. I think that's what Paul had in mind when he admonished the Ephesians to "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15).a. We need to be told when we've offended someone.b. We need to be told when we've made mistakes.c. We need to be told the truth when we are about tomake bad decisions.
3. A true friend, "speaking the truth in love" will risk being liked in order to help you.
1. Have you ever noticed how the Word of God cuts. Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. "
2. He speaks to us through the Word, through the Spirit and through counsel.
3. Sometimes the truth hurts. But the truth of Jesus is like a surgeon's scalpel. It cuts to heal.
A. Genuine friends accept us, warts and all.VI. Friends Bear Burdens. A true friend unselfishly takes the burden of others on themselves.
1. A lady named Dinah Craik wrote a poem about called Friendship:O, the comfort - the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts, nor measure words - but pouring them right out - just as they are - chaff and grain together - Certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them - Keep what is worth keeping - And with the breath of kindness blow the rest away. How many of you would want such a friend.....?B. Because Jesus is our friend, He overlooks our faults.
2. Someone said you can tell a real friend by the fact that when you've made a fool of yourself he doesn't feel you've done a permanent job.
3. This friendship is rare. Most are looking for what they can get in a friend. We want people who look like us....are a credit to us and certainly would never embarrass us. The rich look for the rich, the well dressed look for those that dress well too and fit into their social circles.But...the true is that kind of relationship is built on hypocrisy isn’t it. Do you see how important is friendship in our church? As we seek to reach the lost....it is vital that we offer freely our friendship, without any selfish reasons...
1. Many people have the false idea that when a person comes to Jesus, he must first clean up his life.
2. Jesus accepts just where your are. During His personal ministry, He associated with the dregs of society. The religious establishment gave Him the title "friend of sinners." He wore it like a Medal of Honor.
3. Don't misunderstand. He doesn't condone your sin. He hates your sin. He wants to take your sin away. He's the only one who can clean up your life.
A. Genuine friends help you carry your load.VII. Friends Are Loyal.
B. Because Jesus is our friend, He takes our burden upon Himself.
1. Often, life hands us great "burdens": loss of a job, a handicap, poor health, loss of a loved one, etc... A true friend helps your carry that load.
2. Paul wrote in Galatians 6:2 "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."
3. Solomon said, "A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity" (Proverbs 17:17).
1. One of my favorite passages is 1 Peter 5:7. Here we are told to "cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."
2. Remember His great invitation "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and Myburden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).
A. A friend is someone you can always count on.VIII. Friends Bring out our Best.
B. Because Jesus is our friend, we can always count on Him.
ILLUSTRATION: A farmer was detained for questioning about an election scandal. "Did you sell your vote?" the attorney asked. "No sir, not me," the farmer protested. "I voted for that there fellah 'cause I liked him." "Come, now," threatened the attorney. "I have evidence that he gave you fifty dollars for a vote." "Well, now," the farmer said, "it's plain common sense that when a fellah gives you fifty dollars you like him."
1. He said, He would never leave us or forsake us.
2. Luke 15 records the story of the prodigal son. When all his friends deserted the boy, His father accepted him.
A. Genuine friends always want what is best for us.IX. Friends Build us Spiritually.
B. Because Jesus is our friend, He brings out our best.
1. Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
2. A true friend always encourages you to do your best.
1. He causes all things to work for our good, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).
2. Even the trials that we go through make us better. James 1:2-3 says,"Count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations, (various trials), knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience."
A. Genuine friends want you to become more like Christ.X. Friends Love.
1. Someone once said, "A friend is one who knows you as you are, understands where you've been, accepts who you've become and still gently invites you to grow."
2. Your best friends aren't necessarily those you play with or shop with. They are those who pray for you and lovingly guide you spiritually. A true friend is not necessarily the one you play with but the one you pray with.
B. Because Jesus is our friend, He wants us to grow spiritually.
A. Genuine friends express their love in word and most clearly in deed.Conclusion:Why is it hard for some people to find a true friend?Most times they reason is they motives are selfish.....They are looking for someone to give them friendship....not much interested in being a friend....
B. Jesus' greatest expression of love was His death.He Himself said, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (John 15:13).
1. Are you the friend of God? What is your relationship with Him, who is your Creator and God.
2. Are you accepting the friendship of God? "While you were still in your sins, Christ died for you."
3. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
4. If you are saved, what is your relationship with others around you. That includes your wife, husband, children, family, friends, fellow workers, etc. Your relationship with others is a good measuring stick of your relationship with God A friend of God will be a good friend to have....
5. If your attitude is not one of forgiving, of being unselfish, and not thinking about yourself, then you have a spiritual problem. If your relationship with others is not as it should be, the place to get it right is at the altar of God. It begins with praying and confessing your sins, and then asking God for forgiveness and a change of heart.
To: My Dear Friends
If you have thoroughly read this post, and have personally experienced my Love for you as a friend, You would be pleased to know that there is someone who has an even greater love for you, and is able to Love you so much more than that Love I can give to you. That very person is Jesus. If only you can open up your Heart and accept Him, then will you understand what True Love is. As compared to mine, Mine's peanuts. So don't hesitate any longer. Now is the time to recieve him and invite Jesus into your Life. Don't delay. For we know not when the Lord will come again. God Bless you All.
Sunday, April 01, 2007