Sermon:† Make the Most of Your Friendships

 

Summary:† God desires us to have good, godly friendships, which means our friendships are mutual friendships in which we are fully available, loyal, protective, trustworthy, honest, and considerate.† Our friendship are not limited to other Christians, but we need to make friends with non-Christians while recognizing the pitfalls of those relationships so that they might come to Heaven with us.†

 

Text:† Eccl 4:7-12

 

Scripture Reading:† Ps 15:1-3

 

Intro:

1.  Do you have any friends?† Think about it

a.     Social Studies teacher - "I had a friend once"

b.     Those who laugh - You may not understand true friendship

2.  It has been said there are several types of so-called friends

a.     Fair weather friend - Only around when things are well

b.     Fickle friend - Unreliable, not dependable

c.     User friend - Only a friend as long as he can get from you

d.     These are not friends at all

                                                    i.     At best, they are acquaintances

                                                   ii.     Friends are supposed to be reliable

3.  Would it surprise you to know that the Bible says plenty about friendship?

a.     Prov 18:4 - A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (NASB)

                                                    i.     If you have that one friend, you have priceless treasure

                                                   ii.     The Bible has plenty to say about friendship

b.     Scrip Reading Heb. Ps 15:3 says - The one that may dwell with God are those who -† "Do not go about as a slanderer with their tongue, those who do not do wrong to their friend, and those who do not take up a reproach against the close one (neighbor/friend)."

c.     It is precious to God if you are good to your friends.

4.  (Eccl 4:1, 7-12) Will reflect on friendship from this passage

a.     V.1,8 - It is not good to be a loner

                                                    i.     Bible says it is not good from man to be along

                                                   ii.     We were made for relationship

                                                 iii.     As much as we admire the "loners" it is not natural

                                                 iv.     "LONE" Ranger - Was he alone?† He had Tonto

b.     "Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the sunshine"

c.     What can we do to cultivate good, godly friendships?†

 

I. (v.9b-10) Be Mutual

A. Friendship is a two way street, or it is not true friendship

1. Both friends contribute to the relationship generously

2. If it only is a one way street, it is not true friendship

B. Look at what this passage says

1. v.9b - Friends have a good return for "their" labor

a. Not just one person's labor, but both

b. Both make significant investment into the relationship

c. If not, the relationship will deteriorate

2. v.10 - There is "mutual" support in a friendship

a. If one falls, the other picks him up

b. Friend does not ignore you or leave you there

3. Contrast - Prov 30:15 - Leech has two daughters - "Give & Give"

a. Leech is always taking, never giving

b. Leech is never called man's best friend - Once you are used up, the leech leaves - still saying, "give, give"

4. Prov 19:6 - Many curry the favor of a ruler, and everyone is a friend of the one who gives gifts

a. It's true.† So what lesson can we take from this proverb?

b. Lesson: Some so-called friends are leeches

i It's all about what they can get

ii If gifts dry up, go through hard time, they are gone

c. Lesson: If you want to have friend, don't be leech, be loyal

d. A good friend is a loyal friend

C. ILL: Reminds me when we were young married couple

1. Neighbors in apartment, became good friends

a. Played games, went places, dinner at each other's place

b. We looked forward to spending time together

2. We didn't realize it at the time, we footing the bill for everything

a. If had dinner together, even at their place, we provide food

b. We went out together, we paid for it all

c. We bought gifts for their kids on birthdays

d. We were supportive through rough times -

i When she was having trouble at work

ii When he was having trouble with extended family

3. Everything changed when we went through financial rough time

a. They didn't do for us what we had been doing for them

b. Got together for dinner, but we provide very little, they did too (he was same rank as I was)

c. So, they gradually withdrew - not interested in us any more

4. I remember they used to complain they couldn't find good friends

a. They were sure happy they found us

b. Now I understood why they had difficulty finding friends

c. Problem - They were not BEING good friend

D. To have a good friend, you need to be a good friend

1. If I have trouble making or keeping friends, maybe this is problem

2. A good friendship is mutual - We both contribute to it. . .

 

II. (v.11) Be Available

A. More warmth in friendship on freezing day than by yourself in the summer

B. Consider what this passage says

1. Two can keep warm - Not one, but two

a. Someone may not want to give up their warmth

b. But - What happens when you share it with friend?

i You get back more than what you lost

ii Can't do this is you are not available

2. Prov 17:17 - A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity

a. A friend is fully available at all times - not fair weather

b. Nothing greater treasure than friend who loves like brother

c. This is friendship that lasts a lifetime

3. Even Jesus teaches about friendship, John 15:15

a. Told the 12 they not just his disciples, but his friends

i A master does not tell his slaves what he is doing

ii But Jesus has told them all things

b. He made himself available to them, they are his friends

c. See it in the name, "Immanuel" - God with us

d. Final words - "Surely I am with you always."

4. Cannot be a good friend is you are not available

C. ILL:† A Christian brother complained to me about his friends

1. Accusingly said he closer to co-workers than to church members

a. My question - What have you done to make friends?

i Of course he close to co-workers, there every day

ii What have you done to be available to brethren?

b. Problem - He was contentious, short fuse, unapologetic, full of pride, self-centered

c. Emotionally distant - Secretive - Not available

d. No wonder he had trouble making friends - no effort

2. Contrast - A Woman Belong to the "Do Nothing Club"

a. A bunch of ladies got together to "do nothing"

b. They did "nothing" quite a bit

c. Misnomer - They were doing something - being together

d. They were really good friends - They were available

3. Listen to these quotations of those who figure this out -

a. "My closest relatives are my friends"

b. "Friendship is not a big thing, it is a million little things"

c. "Friendship is not about whom you have known the longest, it is about who came and never left"

d. "True friendship comes when silence between two people becomes comfortable."† It is a language all its own

D. The warmth of friendship cannot be present if you are not available

1. If you want a friend, got to be a friend - be available

2. Sometimes it means just doing nothing together

3. There is another way to contribute toward a friendship. . .

 

III. (v.12) Be Protective

A. A good friend has your back, looks out for you

1. A friend does not abandon his friend in time of need

2. A friend does not abandon his friend in face of danger

B. ILL:† Text uses a rope as an illustration

1. Rope is not a single strand, but many small ones

2. Strength by being twisted together

3. Friends are twisted together, not separate and apart

C. What does this mean?† If you will be good friend, you must be

1. Loyal

a. Jn 15:13 - Greater love has no one than this: to lay down oneís life for oneís friends

b. Jesus' friends willing to fight to the death for him

i Became confused, they all ran

ii Except John, he stayed through the whole ordeal

iii He was the one whom Jesus loved - Best friend

c. King David had a best friend - Jonathan

i Saul wanted to kill David due to jealousy, suspicion

ii Jonathan helped David to escape his father

iii Saul angry, tried to spear Jonathan

iv David commented that the love of friendship is better than the love of a woman

d. A good friend will stand by his friend

2. Trustworthy

a. Prov 17:9 - Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

b. You will not divulge secrets that can damage your friend

c. A friend is someone you can trust with deepest, darkest secrets because he is trustworthy

3. Honest

a. Prov 27:6 - Wounds from a friend can be trusted,but an enemy multiplies kisses.† (NASB - Faithful are the wounds of a friend, deceitful are the kisses of an enemy)

b. Prov 27:9 - Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice (NASB - Oil and perfume make the heart glad, so a man's counsel is sweet to his friend)

c. Some think that a friend is one who supports you in whatever you decide no matter what

d. But a friend will tell you what you NEED to hear, he has your best interest at heart

i If you are being stupid or ungodly

ii ILL: A friend's girlfriend was out with another guy

a) He angry, wanted to punish them both

b) His "friends" echoed his anger, egged him on

c) I told him to slow down, could wind up doing something he regretted

d) Come to find out, the guy was her cousin!!

4. Considerate

a. Prov 27:14 - If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse (NASB - He who blessed his friend with a loud voice early in the morning, it will be reckoned a curse to him)

b. If your friend not a morning person, you will be considerate

c. If you are inconsiderate, you will not be a friend very long

d. ILL:† Remember David's Three Mighty Men in 2 Sam 23?

i David longed to drink waters from well of Bethlehem

ii Without David, knowing, they broke through the Philistine camp, and brought David the water

iii Friends are thoughtful and considerate

D. Being a friend means you have your friend's back

1. It means being loyal, trustworthy, honest, and considerate

2. If you want to have a friend, you need to be a friend

 

IV. Be Wise

A. This not from this text, but have to make these final points

B. Recognize the biblical limits to friendship

1. There just are some that are not good to be friends with . . .

2. Dt 13:6-8 says that if a close relative or close friend secretly entices you to go after other gods, do not listen, pity, or conceal him, but do away with him

a. This is not someone with your best interest at heart

b. This is someone that can bring you eternal destruction

3. 1 Cor 15:33 - "Do not be misled, "Bad company corrupts good character"

a. So choose your close friends wisely

b. Need to be decisive on who you make your friends †

4. But - Does NOT mean cut yourself off from all non-Christians

a. Just need to be selective about "close" friends

i You donít share in common what is important

ii Limited to how close you can be

b. We are called to make friends with this caution. . .

C. Make new friends for redemptive purposes (Lk 16:1-9)

1. Many people puzzle over this parable

2. V.8 - Jesus is contrasting and comparing

a. The steward was unrighteous shrewd in making friends who would welcome him in the end

b. Worldly people often more shrewd than us

3. V.9 - Be righteous and shrewd with your money

a. Use them to make friends on this earth

b. NIV note - More lit: "they" will welcome you

c. Ie: Make friends, they become Christians, they welcome you into eternal dwellings

4. Make friends of non-Christians, use money for that

a. Not in a deceitful or ungodly way

b. Invest in friendship, hoping they will become Christians

c. They will welcome you in Heaven

d. Imagine what that will be like!

D. ILL:† Seems like I was better at it as a teenager

1. Always spur of moment going somewhere to do stuff

a. Top Dog race track and arcade

b. Run Up to John's Gyros and Southroads Mall

c. Go to Movies at South Cinema 4

d. Hang out on Main Street, get drinks as A & W

2. Most of us friends were members of the church

a. Always inviting friends

b. Sometimes, "I can't, I don't have any money"

c. We pool our money, and bring friends along

3. Several of those friends we ran with eventually became Christians

4. What does this mean?† Make new friends!

a. Invite people bowling, picnics, family outings, etc.

b. Many who came to Christ started this way

c. Nothing better than an unbelieving acquaintance who becomes a brother in Christ

 

Concl:

1.  Yes, God does have a lot to say about friendship

2.  Are you a friend of Jesus?† First step is accept him (inv)

3.  Remember the scripture reading - Those who are upright can approach God, and part of that means being good to your friends

4.  So, be good to your friends, and it will be a treasure whose worth is far beyond any kind of money or other riches