Connected | Week 2 | Friendships Matter
Matthew 22:36-40; Proverbs 13:20
Our main text for this series is Matthew 22:36-40
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
We are to love God with our everything and love others as ourselves.
Last week we saw that the most foundational relationship was our relationship with God, but we saw something else as well. We saw that we cannot separate our relationship with God from our relationship with others. Our relationship with God is played out through every single one of our relationships on earth, both good and bad. The way we act towards others (friends, family, enemies, strangers) in these relationships is how the world sees God. So, last week we asked one simple question: Is the way I act towards others, in each one of my relationships, accurately reflecting who God is?
Now, tonight, I want us to look at it in a little different way. Notice the most crucial word in our text…what is it? LOVE. Love was recognized in both passages as the main key to living as God wants us to. LOVE God with our everything. LOVE neighbors as ourselves. This is agape love – unconditional love – love regardless of what happens.
Check out the characteristics of this love – 1 Corinthians 13 shows us, and every time love is mentioned, it is the same word as in our main text – agape – unconditional love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 – 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends.
Now, you’re probably thinking that I am going to talk about romantic relationships…ooh, I loooove him…I looooove her….No. Eww. I’m talking about something that you probably have never thought about when reading 1 Corinthians 13. We’re going to talk about friends.
The Proverbs have a lot to say about a lot of stuff. And, the Proverbs have a lot to say about friendship. We’ll look at a few throughout this message. Here’s one to start with…
Proverbs 17:17a – “A friend loves at all times…”
1 John 3:16 – “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”
The literal words in this passage mean a laying down of your soul – a giving up of the very essence of life on behalf of another, because that is what Christ did for us. So, if a friend loves at all times, shouldn’t we love in this way? Laying down our souls and caring for their souls?
The purpose of Christian friendship is a mutual sharpening. Proverbs 27:17 ESV says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Some translations throw in the word friend: NKJV – “A man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” NLT – “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” If you truly want to share the love of God, you will share the God of love. A true friend – one that agape loves – one that loves with the love of God – will want God’s best for you and will strive to build you up in Him…to sharpen you in Christ. So, this is the type of friend that we need and that we should be to others
Now, I know that we are to have acquaintances that are not Christians, but I want to warn you – do not fully confide in and seek counsel from a friend who is not a Christian. The purpose of non-Christian friendships is to show them the love of God by showing them the God of love. It’s caring for their souls – and if you truly love them, you will care about their soul – and if you truly care for their souls, you will do whatever it takes to save their souls, because that’s what Jesus did – and we show His love by how we love – He loves souls, we love souls.
Have friends and be a friend that sharpens. Build one another up in the Lord. So, how do we do this? How do we live this out? Here are the two things you must walk away with 1. Avoid unhealthy friendships. 2. Establish healthy friendships.
Proverbs 13:20 – “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
The friendships that you choose will determine the direction and quality of your life. How many of you have temporarily abandoned a conviction at the urging of a friend? How many of you have ever been influenced by a friend to do something that you knew was contrary to God’s will?
1. Avoid Unhealthy Friendships
Here’s one of the many reasons why we should avoid unhealthy friendships: The verse says, “A companion of fools suffers harm.” It does not say that a fool suffers harm, which they do…it says a companion of fools. It’s talking about you – you will suffer harm by hanging with people who disregard God. That’s what a fool is – someone who disregards God. How many of you have done something stupid with a friend and got in trouble for it? You probably wouldn’t have done that if you weren’t with that friend.
We are acceptance addicts – you know, we don’t even really pick our friends, our friends pick us – we become friends with those that accept us, and we stay away from those that don’t accept us or that we don’t accept. This means that we often won’t call out people for ungodly behavior because we fear the lack of acceptance – we are actually more likely to give into the ungodly behavior because we want acceptance. And, we suffer for it. You WILL suffer…you WILL suffer harm because of your unhealthy friendships.
A true friend is someone who will love you and not just accept you. Loving is being more concerned about the friend than about the friendship
2. Establish Healthy Friendships
So, we NEED ourselves to establish healthy relationships. We are who we hang out with – or we become who we hang out with. “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise.” A true friendship is one that respects and encourages your relationship with God. So, I want to ask you – Do your friends encourage or hinder your walk with Christ?
Never sacrifice your relationship with Christ for a relationship with another person. Maybe you don’t have a relationship with Christ, well someone loved you enough to bring you here so that you could meet the God of love. John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” I want us all to think of the friends in your life and different situations you are in to make this real for us: If they show you dirty pictures, that’s not a friend – they’re trashing your soul. If you show dirty pictures – you’re not a friend – you are being a tool of Satan in that person’s life as Satan is striving for their soul as well. If you talk about a friend behind their back, or spread rumors, true or not – that’s not a friend – that’s making it easier for others to see them in a different light than Jesus sees them. A friend builds up, not tears down.
Are you a friend with someone because of status – so you can have a greater status? God’s love is not conditional upon our status. Our love and friendships should not be conditional upon other people’s status as well. God is gathering a people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. If our prayer is that His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven, my friendships should be characterized by every tribe, tongue, nation, social class, athletic ability, intellectual capacity, looks, size, Whatever! Let’s love with the love of God – let’s love like God!
So…some of you need to reevaluate your friendships. Some of you need to have some hard conversations with some friends. Some of you need to kick some friends to the curb…lovingly tell them about Jesus but don’t spend time with them. Some of you need to reach out in friendship to some people in this room that you Always overlook…God Never overlooks them, but you might. Some of you need to accept the God of love and the friendship that He offers. Let Him have His way. Accept whatever He is prompting you to do. Act in love…in love of God and in love for your friends’ souls.