Jul 8 2018 Wisdom in Relationships - Friends

Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, thank You for the opportunity to worship You, be with You – to be before You in our heats – we give ourselves to You – we need You desperately – we need to be able to hear from You. I ask You to give me grace to share what You would have to say – that Your words would be heard, and no one else’s.

We have been going through Wisdom – and have been looking at Wisdom in relationships – and today, we’ll look at friendship. A few weeks ago, in the Tim Keller devotional, he spent a few days dealing with friendships.

Prov. 18:24 A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

To say this, in their culture, would have been dramatic. Family relationships were the thing. To have a friend that sticks closer than a brother would have been a big deal.

In our culture, this is more of the reality. Many might say that they are closer with their friends than their sisters and brothers.

We were all together a few weeks ago – and our kids are good friends, but even our kids have their own circles of friends.

This is not saying that we love friends more than family. At times, though, we are closer to friends than to family. In light of that, it is critical that we are wise in choosing friends and those we associate with.

Many quote this without knowing it is in the Bible:

Prov. 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Prov. 27:5 Better is open rebuke than hidden love - Correction is an important aspect of love, friendships and relationships. Hidden love is not expressed and is therefore unable to deal with the issues that need to be dealt with. Hidden love isn’t healthy.

. 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive.

If someone corrects one, often that one is done with the friendship -but it is something we should seek out and want.

It is our responsibility – if we want to grow and become better people – to give people the freedom to correct us.

Have you ever said – you have freedom – if you ever see something in me that needs to be corrected, to let me know.

We would rather hear it from someone who loves us.

A friend who only tells you what you want to hear is not a friend

Prov. 19: 4 Wealth adds many friends, but a poor person is separated from his friend.

6 Many people entreat the favor of a generous person, and everyone is the friend of the person who gives gifts.

This is a simple reality. Friendships have a transactional nature, and there is no escaping that.

Every man is a friend of one who gives gifts. It is a bargain. That is not necessarily how God wants it – but it is how it is.

We don’t seek out friendships to get things.

When we were teens – we like to seek out the cool and attractive people. That is why I had so many cool friends in high school. That’s not true. I know you know that is not true. But I want you to know that I know that is not true.

We tend to turn friends into projects. Transactional. Your friends are not your project – to get you to change them or to join what you join. Even – let me finish this – even in getting them to come to Christ – is a subtle way we turn friendships into transactions.

Here is how I would say it.

You are a friend to someone – because you are a friend only. Because you are a friend – you will share Christ with them when it is appropriate. There is a difference. The person you are being a friend to – will know it, either way. If you are just being a friend to lead them to Christ, they will know it and no one wants to be another person’s project. You want to be a friend.

There are differences between friends and partnerships. You can be a business partner with someone and not be their friend. Nothing wrong with that.

Even in church – you can be ministry partners – and either be friends or not. A person of many friends comes to ruin.

It is true – having too many friends – you think that is impossible. If you think you have 100s of friends you probably don’t have any friends – because none of us has the time to really have friendship with 100s of people.

Because we are Christians and live in Christ – I wonder if God says – this will be fun – I’ll put these two together as friends. I am close friends with ones I would naturally have had nothing to do with. It is a God thing. You can be totally different backgrounds – totally different hobbies – but in Christ you find this close friendship.

When I look at before I came to Christ – the people I am friends with now would not have been my friends then – and God wants to do more in my life.

1 Cor. 15:33 Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals."

This speaks of the negative side of relationships. This is especially true for young people. It is important to think – how do we choose friends? If you are a younger person – these things are so important.

First – look for basic character and behavior. Cool, attractive, smart, and athletic are not character traits. They are fine, but they don’t determine character. Love – that is the overall term of what you look for in a friend. Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness – fruit of the spirit – Moral excellence – self-control

People who have respect for people and place – who treat others properly – the way you would want to be treated. Then treat property properly. Both of those things. Crucial in determining a person’s character.

Keller – after talking about friendship - talks about speech. It is another way to discern if a person is good company or bad. Gracious speech – pleasant – kind – positive, but on the negative – ones who don’t gossip, brag, or put down – demeaning speech – Huge clues.

Fourth – we don’t want to be friends with judgmental people. No one wants judgmental people as friends – except when they judge the same people we judge! Then we become thick as thieves – thick as judgmentors! Self-righteousness is always connected to judgmentalism – and those were Jesus’s worst enemies.

There was a study done – by some college somewhere – they give Dixie cups – and ask them to spit into the cup and then to drink it. Most would not. Richard Beck took this study into his prison ministry – and used it to explain sin. We tend to see sin that is outside of ourselves as the worst. We tend to be okay with the sin INSIDE of us. We call the sin inside of us – our struggles. We don’t see others’ sins as struggles, difficulties, and weaknesses.

In the Men’s group – we have been going through the life of David – one guy said – he was just a dirtbag – and I am just a dirtbag. And it means seeing ourselves for what we really are – sinners at the core of our hearts -and only by God’s grace do I stand. There is nothing within me that allows me to stand.

As soon as I get to that point – I am cut down.

John 15: 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.

What Jesus does in His ministry – yes, Jesus started the church – but He was developing a community of friends – ones who stick closer than a brother or sister. And if anyone had a right to be called Master – it would have been WHO? Sunday School answer: Jesus!

Jesus was the perfect example of humify and zero percent superiority. You cannot be a friend to someone if you believe you are better than someone. It is virtually impossible. You may be older, more mature, and have more knowledge, but does that make you BETTER than them? We say things like – he is a better Christian…. Where is that correct? Nowhere. They may have had more time, more victory – but a Christian is one who is forgiven. Can you be more forgiven than someone else? We are fully forgiven. Filled with Him. All of us who believe.

All that I have – I have made known to you – there is openness, honest –

Prov. 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a relative is born to help in adversity.

The key to being a friend is loving at all times – even when you are sick and tired of the person – who has the same problem again.

Greater love has no one than this – to lay down his life for his friend.

Think of all the opportunities that Jesus could have stopped loving Peter. Think of all the times the guys argued about who was greatest?

Mark 3: 32 A crowd was sitting around him and they said to him, "Look, your mother and your brothers are outside looking for you." 33 He answered them and said, "Who are my mother and my brothers?"

34 And looking at those who were sitting around him in a circle, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."

We have looked at principles for healthy relationships – and Jesus is saying – our relationship with God’s family should take it all up a notch. God’s family is inclusive of all the followers of Jesus. Not one believer is excluded from God’s family. He gives priority to the ones in the family of God.

Think about being there – Peter?! I have to be close to HIM? And I’m sure we think that too!

God wants my relationship with this person to be like a brother and sister

Eph 2:19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of his household,

We come back around – there is this new family that is the ultimate family – and it is the household of God. No longer aliens and strangers – today – it would use the word immigrant. That is a big issue in our day – and it creates such division in our world – I am not going to talk politically about this – but this is the language that Paul is using – for Jews – in Paul’s day. The church was started by Jesus – and Jesus was Jewish – and all the people at first were Jewish – and all of a sudden, something happened. And a flood of Gentiles – immigrants – aliens, foreigners and strangers – poured into the church – and for the Jewish people at that time – they would have held these people with animosity. But within the church – that animosity – that suspicion – is gone. Paul spent so much time dealing with this problem – and declared us a new race! We are no longer white, black, Asian – we are not – we are Christian!

On the fourth of July – there is a tradition – where people become citizens – they wait until the fourth to do it. We celebrate our blessings – and we have so many – do we not? We have many problems – but on the fourth, we celebrate our blessings. We watch fireworks and parades – and are united – sitting with people we wouldn’t normally sit with! But Paul is saying – that unity should pale in comparison with our unity in Christ – there must be no comparison.

Jesus at one times said that he who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. In comparison – your love for me should be the greatest – he is not saying that we should love our families less. But God is first – and He wants us to develop this same mindset. Let’s pray.

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