In the world of Facebook, “friends” can be gained and lost with the click of a button. Sadly, this modern phenomenon has cheapened our view of friendship in the real world.
The Bible presents a far more substantive view of friendship and we will sought to (re)discover it together during the month of September 2013 as we met together at the McShaffrey home for Wednesday night Bible study.
I. Redeeming the Word
The word “friend” has lost its meaning in our modern culture and we need to redeem its meaning. The two Greek words translated as “friend” in the NT should help us in this:
Definition: A person who has something in common with others and enjoys association (i.e., neighbor, companion, associate, acquaintance, etc.)
Scriptures: Matthew 11:16, 20:13, 22:12, 26:50
Definition: Someone dearly loved in a personal, intimate way; a trusted confidant, held dear in a close bond of personal affection (i.e., friend, beloved, etc.)
Scriptures: John 3:29, 11:11, 15:13-15
Conclusion: Perhaps the first step towards redeeming the concept of friendship in our culture is to distinguish mentally (verbally?) between acquaintances and friends.
II. Making Friends
If we adopt friendly attitudes and engage in friendly actions, we will have no problem finding and making friends. Here is some simple scriptural advice:
1. Be a giver, not a taker (1 Cor. 10:24, Phil. 2:3-4)
2. Be friendly, not grumpy (Proverbs 18:24)
3. Be hospitable, not a hermit (Hebrews 13:2)
4. Be respectful, not a handful (Proverbs 25:17)
III. Choosing Friends
While it may initially sound somewhat un-friendly, the Bible clearly counsels us to be very careful when it comes to choosing our friends (Proverbs 12:26).
1. Our friends will inevitably influence the way we think and live (Proverbs 13:20).
2. We should therefore only befriend those who share a biblical worldview (Amos 3:3, 2 Cor. 6:14).
3. We should also avoid befriending those who might negatively influence us (Proverbs 22:24-25, 23:20; 1 Cor. 15:33).
III. Covenanting Together
True friendship (like any important relationship) must be based upon mutual commitment. In the Bible, relational commitments are called covenants.
1. One of the most hurtful things in the world is being forsaken or betrayed by a supposed friend (Psalms 15:3, 41:9).
2. Man’s longing for relational security is seen in traditions like blood-brotherhood, adelphopoiesis, BFF’s, etc.
3. The example of David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-4) is most worthy of our attention and emulation.
Discussion: In our modern day, how might we express our covenantal commitment to one another?
IV. Exchanging Advice
Friends will inevitably try to “help” one another by offering personal opinions and advice. This can strain relationships, but the Bible helps us appreciate it:
1. It is fools (not friends) who either offer advice constantly or who stubbornly refuse to receive it (Proverbs 18:2, 28:26).
2. True friends will not always agree, but will engage one another is a constructive manner (Proverbs 27:17).
3. Even though this sometimes hurts, a friend’s wounds are always better than an enemy’s kisses (Proverbs 27:6).
Discussion: What are some practical ways we can be more friendly while offering or receiving advice?
V. Dealing with Problems
While true friends love at all times (Proverbs 17:17), relationships can be injured through personal offenses. The Bible offers two options:
1. Cover it with Love – This is a personal and private decision simply to forgive the matter and move on (Proverbs 17:9, 1 Peter 4:8).
2. Confront it in Love – Approach your friend in humility, explain the problem, and settle it through repentance and forgiveness (Galatians 6:1, Matthew 18:15).
Whichever of these two paths you choose to take, the destination remains the same: Forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:12-14).