Wise Friendships!

il_fullxfull.253692494In our Wednesday evening service last night we looked at Proverbs 18:24 and spoke about Wise Friendships.

24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

What we want to explore tonight is not what our culture says about friendships but what the Bible says about friendships. In life you will have many companions but you will have few true friends. A true friend is a rare treasure and you do everything you can to find them and to keep them.

In this verse Solomon helps us focus on friendship. There is no doubt that we need friends.  You can do much without a friend. Biologically you don’t need a friend. You can get along financially without a friend. You can get a job without a friend. You can live your whole life and make it without a friend. You can be so busy with life that you don’t have time for friends. However, the truth is that you cannot become wise without a Christian friend in your life. Wisdom is often managed through friends. You will suffer in the area of wisdom if you do not have true friends.

Solomon says that if you are going to have friends than you have to be a friend. If we are nothing more than self-centered companions than we will only have self-centered companions but if we are a friends we will have friends. If you don’t care about being a friend, don’t complain that no one wants to be your friend.

Solomon says that a true friend sticks closer than a brother. In Biblical times there was no stronger bond that than of the bond between siblings. Even the matrimony bond was not stronger than the bond between brothers and sisters. But a friend, true friendship is a greater bond than even that.

There are several areas of faithfulness of a friend. A true friend accepts you are you are. A brother is stuck with you but a friend will love you at all times, good and bad, and they don’t have to but they choose to.  That is a friend. There is no doubt that the Lord creates these rare people. A true friend knows who you really are and does not walk away.  You don’t have to put on pretense with friends. With real friends you can be absolutely transparent. You can be yourself and you don’t have to wonder if they will accept you are not.

There are two main actions of a true friend. The first is forgiveness. A friend knows the faults and failures of the friend. Again, if friendships are going to survive, there has to be a commitment to stick. And if there is going to be friendships that last, there must be forgiveness. Even friends fail their friends. Even friends disappoint their friends. They don’t want to but they do. We are sinners and we all mess up and misspeak and misstep. However, true friends don’t leave, they forgive and they stick. True friendships are for a lifetime.  There is no exit policy. Friends love at all times.

The second action of a friend is they are honest and blunt. Real friendship is like sharpening the blade of a sword. We often become dull and blunted and lose our edge. Everyone needs a friend who will not flatter us but will refine us. A real friend will provoke you and challenge you. You will not agree with everything your friend says, but you will want to listen. We need friends who will tell us the truth.

You know those people who go to the auditions at American Idol who think they can sing but they really can’t sing? They don’t have a true friend. If they had a true friend he would have stopped them from going. When iron sharpens iron, it creates friction. When a friend is honest, it hurts. There is a difference between being hurt and being harmed. A friend will hurt you but he will not harm you. If you will receive it, you will grow in wisdom. Friends support you but they are at the same time bluntly honest with you.

Well, where do we find friends and not simply companions? Where do we find friends that will forgive us and stay with us, and be honest with us? Two places:

We should be able to find true friends at church among those who are indwelt with the power of God.  If there should be anyplace where you can be accepted just as you are, where you can find forgiveness when you fail, where you can find loving honesty, it should be the church. We are to consider one another and stir up one another to love and good works. We are to provoke to do evil but to stir up to good works.

You know as well as I do, that that is not always so, but it should and I think it will be with those who are truly saved. There should be great friendships started and developed that will last a lifetime at Lakeview Baptist Church.

The self-centered, self-glorifying, and self-gratifying world can not provide this kind of friendship. Only the power of God working in the life of a believer can truly be a friend.

Ultimately this friend is Jesus Christ. There is one who will be a true friend; he will stick closer than a brother.

Here is what Jesus said, “13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 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. 16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

Jesus accepted you just as the sinner you were. In the depth of your sin, Jesus died for you. Jesus has loved us with absoluteness. He loves his own to the very end. He will never leave them nor forsake them, no matter what they do.  There is absolute and complete forgiveness in Christ. We fail him everyday but loves us and does not walk away from us.

Jesus corrects us. His Word is brutally honest with us. It tells us of our faults and failures. He pulls no punches. I have nothing as brutally honest as His Word. His Word makes us wiser. He makes us wiser. He hurts us with his rebukes and correction but he does not harm us.  God covers our sins through Christ. He does not bring up our sins and failures.

You might have companions who will let you down, even when everything is on the line. But you have a friend in Christ, who sticks closer than a brother. Our friend laid down his life for his friends at the cross, he was forsaken, though he was loyal, so that we would never be forsaken, though we are disloyal to him.

He cares about you. He cares about your sin. He cares about your future. he thinks about you. He understands you. He loves. You are not alone. He is with you. There is no greater friend than Christ.