Last weeks sermon on friendship raised some very good questions and great discussion. The more I reflect on it the more I realise I was challenged and helped by the content, and sense that the need to think well in biblical and Gospel terms is great. Again, although this applies to all, I do think us blokes have a particular issue with laziness and pride in this area. You need to let the gospel wither both of these things. The 51% of British men with no close friends whatsoever can’t be too far off our figure.
So, here for refreshing are the main points from last week:
Friendship plays a unique and necessary role in our lives: it’s a gift from God we’re made for and need to thrive! (Pr 18:24).
Friendship, by it’s nature, is something we discover, like the sweetness of honey (Pr 27:9). You can’t order someone to be your friend. CS Lewis: ‘What, you too? I though I was the only one’.
However, you must forge friendship: build on the foundation. From proverbs we can distill 4 qualities of the ‘good friend’:
Constancy. Rather than being a fair weather friend (eg 14:20, 19:4), a true friend ‘loves at all times’ (17:17). That is, in all kinds of times, whether it is costly or not.
Tact: the true friend is sensitive to your needs and emotions, and does not blunder around in your life harming you (eg 25:20, 26:18-19)
Candour: you must be truthful. Friends don’t let friends live like fools, with a poor grasp on reality, including whats real about themselves (27:5-6, 29:5)
Counsel. This means sharing life at the heart, really ‘letting someone in’ level (27:9). Friends really know each others character, and allow critique and encouragement. Iron sharpens iron, but this is about character formation, not just sharpening theological smarts.
Having said all of this, you need to know that the ultimate power for friendship doesn’t come from friends, but the ultimate friend, Jesus. What do I mean? Jesus loves at all times, he is the ultimate friend who cleaves to you. Not only is he candid, never leaves us in the dark with a snare to our feet, he’s plain about sin, but he is the one who is ultimately wounded for us. Jesus lost his friendship with God so we could be friends with God.
He never lets you down, even though his best friends let him down. He goes to the cross for his friends (Jn 15:15). If we know that, really preach it to ourselves and hammer it in to our hearts, we’ll be secure in his love, and greatly freed to be friends to others, knowing we can never suffer ultimate rejection,
Less afraid of rejection, our hearts will be more free to put ourselves out there generously in friendship. You can stay generous in the ups and downs of human friendship. May we be a community of rich friendships.