Monday, 2 April 2012

How to have really strong friendships?

I listened to a really good talk last night at church on friendships and how to use Biblical principles to maintain good strong and healthy friendships.

What sort of friend are you?

How many Facebook friends do you have?

We live in a world that values friendship and the number of friends you have but not necessarily the quality of relationships?

But what about deeper friendships and closer relationships?

Jesus understood the value of friendship and whilst at times was surrounded by many followers  would spend time with his closest and intimate friends.

John 15:14-15 (NIV)You are my friends if you do what I command. [15] I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

Jesus invested both time and emotion in his relationships and wept at the death of His friend.

John 11:33-34,36-37 (NIV)When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. [34] "Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. [36] Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" [37] But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"

In the Old Testament the relationship between David and Jonathan gives an excellent model of friendship.

1 Samuel 20:1-4 (NIV)Then David fled from Naioth at Ramah and went to Jonathan and asked, "What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to take my life?" [2] "Never!" Jonathan replied. "You are not going to die! Look, my father doesn't do anything, great or small, without confiding in me. Why would he hide this from me? It's not so!" [3] But David took an oath and said, "Your father knows very well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said to himself, `Jonathan must not know this or he will be grieved.' Yet as surely as the Lord lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death." [4] Jonathan said to David, "Whatever you want me to do, I'll do for you."

1 Samuel 20:31 (NIV)Saul's anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, "You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don't I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you?As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send and bring him to me, for he must die!"

For Jonathan to have this friendship he will lose everything. He gives it all up for a friend. But Jonathan knows that following God's plans are better.

1 Samuel 20:41-42 (NIV)After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together---but David wept the most. [42] Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, `The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever. ' " Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.

David and Jonathan had made a covenant before God.

1 Samuel 18:1-4 (NIV)After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. [2] From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father's house. [3] And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. [4] Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.

True Biblical friendship needs real investment and commitment. We need to invest real time and emotion in our relationships.

"Break our hearts with the things that break yours."

We should have heartbreaking pain when we wear hear the struggles that our friends are going through.

When we think about our close friendships it is helpful to ask:

  • Is God in our friendships?
  • Does it produce fruit? 
  • Do we grow in the fruits of the Spirit through our relationship or does our relationships do the opposite?
  • Is it full of forgiveness?

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. [5] It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. [6] Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. [7] It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. [8] Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. [15] But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Godly relationships should be deliberate and effort needs to be put in.

- pray together with your friend
- share what is happening
- be equal (it is not a competition for who can have the best / worst life and experiences)
- be accountable with each other

Having an open and accountable relationship is really important.  There will be many temptations that we will face and by sharing this with an accountability parter (friend) can really help us stand strong against this temptation.

While David's friends were away in battle he slipped into a sinful relationship.

2 Samuel 11:2-5 (NIV)One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, [3] and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, "Isn't this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" [4] Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home. [5] The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, "I am pregnant." 

We are meant to work in unity with others.

Genesis 2:18 (NIV)
The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."

Value your friends.
If you don't feel that you have close friends pray that God will give you a friend.
Invest in your friends.
Pray for and with your friends.

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