Keys to Good Friendships Part 2
Keys to Good Friendships--Part 2
publication offered a prize for the best definition of a friend.
Thousands of entries were received and the one that was given first
prize was this: “A friend is the one who comes in when the whole
world has gone out.”
abandon a friend when they have nothing more to give to you but,
rather, need something from you.
abandon a friend because they aren’t the most popular or the best
abandon a friend if they become unbearable when they are going
through a deep trial.
abandon a friend just because nobody may particularly like her or if
others are telling you to dump her.
going to look at three Biblical examples of loyalty.
first example is Ruth.
just told her two daughters-in-law to leave her while she returns to
they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her
mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. Then she said, ‘Behold, your
sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after
your sister-in-law.’ But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you
or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and
where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and
your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be
buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death
parts you and me.’ When she saw that she was determined to go with
her, she said no more to her.”
because of the death of her husband and two sons, was left with no
one except her two daughters-in-law. She was on her own.
was in great sorrow.
was old and couldn’t work and because she was too old to have
children she would probably never find a husband who could support
her and Ruth.
if Ruth came back with her to Bethlehem, the odds were that Ruth
would never remarry because it was unlikely that an Israelite would
marry a Moabite in Israel.
not very encouraging circumstances for Ruth to stay with Naomi.
most people would have said, “Ditch her.”
did remarry. And she became the great-grandmother of David and from
her line came the Savior of the world.
second example is Ittai
situation is where David’s son, Absalom, pulled a coup and David
had to flee with a small group of followers to save his life.
were fleeing David stopped and took stock of the 600 men who had come
with him. One of them was Ittai.
Samuel 15:19-22, “Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, ‘Why
will you also go with us? Return and remain with the king, for you
are a foreigner and also an exile; return to your own place. You came
only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander with us, while I go
where I will? Return and take back your brothers; mercy and truth be
with you.’ But Ittai answered the king and said, ‘As the LORD
lives, and as my lord the king lives, surely wherever my lord the
king may be, whether for death or for life, there also your servant
will be.’ Therefore David said to Ittai, ‘Go and pass over.’ So
Ittai the Gittite passed over with all his men and all the little
ones who were with him.”
was the situation where Ittai had just joined up with David and David
was telling him to go back.
foreigner, Ittai was not obligated to serve anyone and so he was told
that should go back and wait to see whomever God would finally set up
as king. And then Ittai can serve under that person without any fear
of having made a wrong choice and then suffering for it.
was the result of his loyalty.
Samuel 18:1-2, “Then David numbered the people who were with
him and set over them commanders of thousands and commanders of
hundreds. And David sent the people out, one third under the command
of Joab, one third under the command of Abishai the son of Zeruiah,
Joab's brother, and one third under the command of Ittai the
was fleeing from Saul, Ittai remained loyal to David.
could have called him a loser and left him.
could have taken the more convenient route and went home leaving
David to fend for himself.
could have concluded that since Absalom was the king that the most
expedient thing would be to provide his services to Absalom where he
could get the quickest and most assured gain for his skills.
But he didn’t.
He chose uncertainty
He chose hardship
But most importantly,
he chose loyalty over expediency.
And David rewarded him as
one of his most trusted friends and greatest supports.
And through Ittai, God
accomplished His purposes.
Ittai stayed with the one
who was struggling and in confusion and, as a result, he helped to
make David the victor.
He wasn’t content to
just be a tag-along.
He was active in helping
out his friend and in helping him to overcome his rough times.
And that is what God wants
us to be like.
God doesn’t want us
to dump our friends when their hard times make us uncomfortable.
God doesn’t want us
to dump our friends when their side has dwindled down to a precious
God doesn’t want us
to dump our friends so that we can step back and then choose the
God wants us to stay
with that friend through the struggles and confusion and do what we
can to make them a winner again.
Joseph Roux in Meditations
of a Parish Priest said, “What is love? Two souls and one
flesh; friendship? Two bodies and one soul.”
13:5, “Let your character be free from the love of money, being
content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I WILL
NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU”
the purpose of money? So that we can have things that will make our
life livable and comfortable.
is God saying here?
love money for what it can offer because what I have to offer is even
can’t give peace of mind; but I can give peace of mind.
can’t give you an assurance of intimacy; but I can give you
assurance of intimacy.
can’t give you joy that goes right down into your feet; but I can
give you that kind of joy.
And do you
know what? It’s guaranteed and forever because He said, “I will
never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.”
Timothy 2:13, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He
cannot deny Himself.”
Even if we
are without faith, God will still stick by our side.
make your friendships to be only ones of convenience.
As it says in Proverbs
18:24, be a “friend who sticks closer than a brother.” You
will find great reward.
anyone have any examples of when you were, let us say, less than
gracious but someone was loyal to you and it really deepened your
is another side to this.
become a pest
25:17, “Let your foot rarely be in your neighbor's house, Lest
he become weary of you and hate you.”
Don’t wear out your
Sometimes you need to step
back a bit and see if they’ll initiate a call.
I had a friend once who
would call me almost every night and tell me about what was going on
with him. It got to the point where I dreaded the ringing of the
And even if you have a
great relationship that doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to
call all of the time.
You may love chocolate
truffles but that doesn’t mean that you’d want to eat them every
day. OK, bad example.
You may love lasagna but
you wouldn’t want to eat it for supper every day of your life.
“Have you found honey? Eat only what you need, Lest you have it in
excess and vomit it.”
Even a good thing can
become too much if it is over done.
Of course some people can
talk to each other ten times a day and not grow weary of each other
and that is great.
But what I’m saying is
that you need to be careful that you aren’t in your neighbor’s
house or on your neighbor’s phone too much.
Be sensitive to the
situation. Weigh out how often they return your calls.
And if that person doesn’t
want to talk to you every day then don’t pout and assume that they,
therefore, never want to talk to you.
Even Jesus needed time
alone apart from His disciples.
the difference between discernment and judgment in dealing with
involves wisdom and the love of God.
involves a negative attitude and wrong desires.
perceive something obscure or concealed. To distinguish using
wisdom. Discernment asks questions until all important factors and
people are understood.
Proverbs 18:17, “The
first to plead his case seems just, until another comes and
accepts hearsay at face value and forms opinions of motives on a
few known factors.
Proverbs 14:15, “The
naive believes everything, But the prudent man considers his
is thoughtful and prayerful in considering the situation before
drawing any conclusions.
Proverbs 15:28a, “The
heart of the righteous ponders how to answer…”
wants to spout off its conclusions right away without thinking or
Proverbs 15:28b, “But the
mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.”
Discernment tries to take into
account the entire picture to try and determine a reason or a root
Judgment sees the negative and
nothing but the negative.
comes with gentleness and humility knowing that sin is crouching
at his own door.
Galatians 6:1, “Brethren,
even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual,
restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to
yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
wants to bash that person to the ground and wants them to feel
2 Samuel 16:5-7, “When
King David came to Bahurim, behold, there came out from there a
man of the family of the house of Saul whose name was Shimei, the
son of Gera; he came out cursing continually as he came. And he
threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David; and
all the people and all the mighty men were at his right hand and
at his left. And thus Shimei said when he cursed, "Get out,
get out, you man of bloodshed, and worthless fellow!”
Discernment is willing to offer
solutions to the problem.
Judgment only wants to point out
Discernment is willing to make the
effort to talk to the person directly.
Judgment oftentimes draws
conclusions based on second and third-hand information.
When you deal with people
in a touchy situation do you approach slowly and with a desire to
take the time necessary to discern the whole picture?
Or do you go in with guns
firing based on whatever rumors that you’ve heard no matter
Our human nature is quick
to want to see other people fail because then it helps to either
justify our wrong attitudes and actions or it builds up a sense of
superiority because someone else has now fallen beneath our feet.
This is wrong.
Our sin must be repented
of no matter how much greater the sin might be around us.
Our security must be based
on God’s view of us.
God never tramples on us.
Don’t you ever trample
on another person.
anyone have any examples of when you were judgmental and it came back
to bite you and what did you learn from that experience?
you expect mercy then give mercy
Too often we expect others
to understand that we are sinners and that we have struggles and so
they should understand this and show us mercy when we fail. We expect
or hope that they will be understanding and let our ill temper or our
stupid remark or action blow by them with nary a trace.
We expect them to agree
with the sentiment, “Look I’m only human. We all make mistakes.
You should be understanding and just drop it.”
But if they do something
similar to us!
Ho, boy! Tie down the
“How can he say that to
me? I don’t have to take that kind of crap!”
“What is wrong with her?
That’s it! I’ve had enough!”
When we say something
hurtful we want people to realize, “I’m just one person
struggling with the weight of the world on my shoulders. You should
be more understanding. God is merciful, so should you be.”
But when they say
something hurtful it’s more like, “They are demons spawned from
the very darkness of Hell itself! Their souls are black with this
unpardonable sin. Even God cannot look upon them so how can I?”
Psalm 37:21, “The
wicked borrows and does not pay back, but the righteous is gracious
The wicked expects from
others and then doesn’t give anything in return.
But the righteous gives.
This applies mostly to
But it can also apply to
mercy, or grace, or compassion.
Matthew 7:12 is
referred to as the golden rule, “Therefore, however you want people
to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
If you want people to
show you mercy then you had better show them mercy.
If you want people to
understand how the stupid or insensitive things that you say
aren’t malicious then you make every attempt to understand that
the stupid or insensitive things that they say aren’t
If you are having a
bad day and everyone knows it but you expect them to forget it by
the next day then you had better be willing forget other people’s
bad days by the next day.
God doesn’t allow it any
In Matthew 6:12 in
the “Lord’s Prayer” God says, “And forgive us our debts, as
we also have forgiven our debtors.”
In this prayer, God is
commanding us to tell Him that He should treat us as we treat others.
Did you ever realize that?
God commands us to ask Him
to treat us the same way that we treat others.
God doesn’t let you off
of the hook.
The story is where a slave
owed his king a tremendous amount of money. But the king showed him
compassion and forgave him his debt.
But another slave owed
this first slave a very small amount of money. But the first slave
choked him and threw him into jail. He showed him no mercy or
“Then summoning him, his lord said to him, 'You wicked slave, I
forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. Should you not
also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on
And then the king punished
In this story, one man,
who was the king, said, “I showed you mercy. I showed you
compassion. I forgave you. But you couldn’t do the same in return?!
When you blew it I let off of the hook. But when someone else blew it
you took them to task to force them to make it up!”
The king, who represents
God, was angry because the first slave hoped for and received mercy
but he was unwilling to show the same to another person.
If you sin against someone
no matter why or what caused it or what you are going through then
repent and ask forgiveness.
But if someone sins
against you then be quick with mercy.
You’ll be amazed at how
God will go “Yea!” and pour out His abundance on you.
Don’t expect more from
others than what you are willing to give back in return.
defend yourself at another’s expense
know that you are going to do something that will hurt or disappoint
another person then don’t first set them up so that it will make it
look like it was their fault so that you’ll be spared looking like
the bad guy.
your share in the situation.
Or if you
know that some situation is going to make you both look bad then
don’t try and set it up so that they will be the one who takes the
leave someone out there twisting in the wind.
to that person. Place that person’s feelings above even your own
reputation and then let God raise you up.
3:11-13, “And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked?
Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’
And the man said, ‘The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she
gave me from the tree, and I ate.’ Then the LORD God said to the
woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ And the woman said, ‘The
serpent deceived me, and I ate.’”
that when God asked the man, he blamed the woman.
asked the woman, she blamed the serpent.
God say about their trying to pass the blame? Nothing.
addressed their sin.
our hearts and He knows our sins to the fullest.
We are not
going to slip anything past Him.
not going to fool God.
Be willing to take the
shots that you deserve.
Don’t throw someone else
in front of the bullet.
force Christians to meet higher expectations
heard so many times over the years Christians saying, “I just can’t
trust Christians. I can trust my non-Christian friends more than I
can trust my Christian friends.”
people say this?
because Christians are more untrustworthy than non-Christians?
because Christians are sneakier?
maybe because they are more devious?
there will certainly be non-Christians who will be
face it, there are some Christians who are lazy, who are
self-centered, who are gossips, and so on and so on.
3:12-13, “And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy
and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility,
gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each
other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord
forgave you, so also should you.”
is exclusively about how we should treat each other in the church.
words does God use?
He tells us to have
Because Christians will be hurting
and suffering and in confusion.
Because Christians will be needy.
Because Christians will be
Because Christians will be
vulnerable and fragile.
Because Christians will drive you
crazy sometimes with their stupidity, with their
self-centeredness, and with their weaknesses.
Bear with one another
Because Christians will be
intolerant at times.
Forgive each other
Because Christians will sin
is the basis for commanding us to have this kind of heart?
because the Lord has already and continues to have this heart towards
asks you to be something that He isn’t Himself.
1:22, “And have mercy on some, who are doubting;”
If you see
something wrong with a person don’t judge him or her; instead try
to help that person to be more like Christ.
involve reproving them.
involve working with them.
relationships and many marriages have failed because one person put
unreasonable expectations onto the other person.
instead of being willing to work with that person
of taking the time to make that person more like Christ
of being patient and forbearing
that person to be everything that they expect them to be and they
want it now.
you have those expectations then you will
strain on the relationship
will focus on those areas that you don’t like
you will take their slowness to change as a personnel offense and as
a lack of concern for your feelings and desires.
result will be that you will become resentful and demanding.
number of years ago there was a button going around Christians
circles with the letters
stood for was, “Please Be Patient, God Is Not Finished With Me
Christians to a higher standard because we think that they should be
everything that God wants them to be.
they aren’t, then if it bothers you so much then you make an effort
to help them along that way.
Christians who are so terrible
you praying for them a lot?
you humbly gone to them with your concerns and possibly even
you willing to work with them to make them more like Christ?
are you just complaining about them to others?
you just gossiping about them?
you just belittling them in your mind?
person that you should hold to higher expectations is yourself.
everyone else, apply Colossians 3:13.
to re-mold negative traits into positive traits
we have an area of our lives that we know is not the character of God
and we want to change it. It may be something that is sinful or it
may be just something that is inappropriate.
recognize this area what is the first thing that you think of doing?
those traits that are pure evil, every negative trait can be
considered to be a positive trait that is being misused or
we need to repent of those sins, but we don’t necessarily have to
cut them out and leave a large void in their place. Instead, we can
try and turn them around to be used by God.
examples of restoring a negative trait.
Using your insights to improve
things with solutions and not just to tear down.
Competitive, scheming, having vain
Good at goal setting
Helping others to set goals and
learning that people are always more important than
Using that energy to praise and
wasteful with money
Giving to others and not just to
Being blunt, outspoken, using
Learning to speak the truth but in
a way that will be acceptable and helpful. Learning to use
knowledge with love.
Possessiveness, blind obedience
Knowing when you are crowding
someone and when you are being loyal so that you can help them;
not just so that they can support you.
Insensitive, unloving, cold
Learning to evaluate the facts
without emotions clouding them and then applying that knowledge
with sensitivity and constructive solutions.
Stubborn, headstrong, self-willed
Learning that standing your ground
with everything is arrogance but standing your ground with that
which is right produces solid convictions.
Touchiness, easily offended,
Learning not to immediately lash
out at people. Learning how to comfort and support those who are
misunderstood and oppressed.
us to repent of sin.
doesn’t want us to walk around with holes in our lives.
12:43-45, 43 “Now when the unclean spirit goes out
of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does
not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to
my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it
unoccupied, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and
takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and
they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes
worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil
examples of where God turned a negative trait around
re-directed this trait
Aggressive, impetuous, blunt
God sent him out with the Gospel
as His first ambassador to people who had never heard about
Impatient, took matters into his
own hands, saw a problem and charged ahead right away to solve it
Used him to confront ungodly
Pharaoh and led over a million people against many obstacles and
into the promised land.
God can raise up godly character out of nothing also.
God created character out of
Made him a leader.
your own life, think of a characteristic that is a problem and you
might be able to turn it around for good.
On one of
my shirts I noticed a single thread dangling from the shoulder. So I
gave it a quick tug hoping that it would break off. Rather, it pulled
all along the seam and created a gaping hole. The shirt was ruined.
That one thread had a big impact.
interesting verse is Colossians 2:2 (NASB). It states that we should
be “knit together in love.” Each thread in a cloth weaves itself
over and under many other threads. Whereas a single piece of thread
can be easily broken, once it is woven into a cloth they form
something strong. This cloth can offer protection, comfort, and even
make a statement. Each thread was designed to be part of something
each Christian is like a single thread. Apart from a good community
of believers we are weaker, more easily confused, and tempted. Our
struggles can be lonely and overwhelming.
designed us to be woven into a body of believers. Some people we are
woven under. We support them with mercy, fellowship, and giving.
Other people we are woven over. They support us with discipleship,
concern, and prayer. Together we form a community that is strong
enough to protect us from the lions that prowl about seeking to
devour (1 Peter 5:8). We are better equipped to encourage one another
and to forgive each other. And as a community we can be a greater
force to make a statement for what is right: we can preach the Good
News of Freedom, heal the brokenhearted, and open the prison doors of
the enslaved. What sews and binds us together is love.
relationships are going badly it is our tendency to pull away, to
turn into ourselves, to cocoon.
generally is not good.
are times when we do need to get off by ourselves to gather our
thoughts, deal with our emotions, and try to piece together the
confusion and contradictions.
needed to get off by Himself.
14:13, “Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there
in a boat to a secluded place by Himself…”
ultimately, and as quickly as possible, we need to come back. We need
to come back to the fellowship of Christians or we need to come back
to that person.
10:23-25, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without
wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to
stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own
assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one
another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
Scripture tells us that we need each other. Why? To love each other,
to do good to each other, and to encourage each other. This is why we
have relationships: it is not to torture each other, to use each
other, and to manipulate each other. Relationships are not
unidirectional; they are bidirectional. They are not to answer the
question, “What can I get?” but, rather, “What can I give?”
You cannot give if you are in the silent treatment or pouting, or in
pity me mode.
in this Scripture is our motive and example? “For He who promised
is faithful.” We can quickly come back together because God is
faithful to us.
do we pull away from a person, church, and/or God when a relationship
can we do to improve our reaction when we are tempted to do this?
and strengthening the different levels of friendship
mentioned the four different levels of friendship.
will look at some ways of developing and strengthening those
friendships at each level.
alert to the person that you are talking to. Don’t look around as
though you are trying to find someone more interesting. It was said
that John Kennedy gave such undivided attention to whomever he was
talking to, that he made that person feel like he was the most
important person in the world to him.
and remember his name.
him appropriate questions that reflect interest and acceptance.
how God has a deep interest in that person.
his strong points.
appropriate specific questions.
honest about yourself.
about God and what we are learning about Him.
what to pray for about him.
him to reach the goals in his life.
about his struggles and be there to help him when they occur.
your goals and desires with him.
freely what God is doing in each other’s lives.
to be a comfort and support through his trials.
him to overcome his temptations.
willing to correct him when needed.
willing to work through conflicts.
your trust of each other.
to make God a deeper part of each other’s lives.
The situation is Eastern Europe (not Germany) in the
early 1940’s. You are a Christian and you have many good friends.
One of them is a young Jewish boy named Eli. For several years all of
you played together and had fun. But then Hitler’s propaganda
machine came to your village and Jews were being condemned as being
leeches on society. They were being compared to rats and responsible
for all of society’s problems. Your other friends are starting to
talk about how Eli is one of those Jews and how they should keep away
from him. They are even talking about throwing rocks at his house.
You try and defend Eli talking about how he had been such a good
friend all of these years and what they are saying isn’t true.
Instead, they turn on you and accuse you of being a Jew-lover and
that if you want to stick with Eli then they would never talk to you
again either. They might even save a few stones for your house. They
give you a choice: if you stay with them then you don’t have to do
Eli or his family any harm; you just can’t talk to him anymore. But
if you choose Eli then they will consider you a traitor and all bets
are off. They tell you that you have one day to think about it and
that we’ll all get back together again tomorrow at this same time
must pretend that you are actually this person. You don’t know
about the concentration camps or the outcome of the war. Remember
that you don’t have a lot of time to make this decision.
age was not mentioned. Is age relevant in this situation? Why or why
easy to sit in the comfort of our chairs here and say what would be
the right thing to do. But let us try and imagine that we are really
there. What are the consequences of the choices (choosing your
friends, choosing Eli, removing yourself completely from everyone
and going it alone or something else)?
do you do?
you talk to your parents?
you go to Eli and talk to him and to his parents?
you try and contradict the propaganda throughout the entire village?
you ever been put into a situation where you had to choose one
friend or a group of friends against another? What did you do and,
looking back on it, was it the right decision?
there any Biblical examples where one person abandoned another where
sin wasn’t involved and it turned out to be a good choice?
^back to top