Last week the Holy Spirit spoke to us about un-Godly friends. How easy it is to slip into the ways of the world, how easy it is to want to be liked and accepted. Know this, when we choose God’s way, when we choose the way of righteousness, we are going to lose friends. People who do not walk in the way of Christ will begin to feel uncomfortable around us, they will begin to avoid us and move on to other “friends.” So does that mean that being Godly, being faithful will ensure that we are lonely, separated from others by a bridge that they do not understand? Absolutely not! God created us to be in relationship, first with Him, then with our spouse (if or when we have one) and finally with fellow believers.
Ecclesiastes 4:8-12 (NLT)
8 This is the case of a man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, “Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?” It is all so meaningless and depressing.
9 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Relationships are so important to man that scripture is full of examples of people in Godly relationships. God first walked with Adam in the Garden of Eden, then He was close to Enoch, Abraham is called a “friend of God” and finally, Christ calls His disciples His friends many times:
James 2:23 (NKJV) 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.
Genesis 5:24 (NKJV) 24 And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
Luke 12:4 (NKJV) 4 “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
John 15:15 (NKJV) 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.
We must have friends in order to be complete, and God tells us that our friends are so important that we must be willing to lay down our lives for them.
John 15:13 (NKJV) 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
So where do we find people for whom we are willing to lay down our lives, or that are willing to lay down their lives for us? We have to find them in the church. Most of us have many acquaintances, some we might even call close friends, I’ve even been thinking of all the people I know and can’t think of one that would be willing to lay down their life for me that is not a Christian. What does it mean though to “lay down one’s life?” Marines will die for one another, it’s their job, and coming out of the Marine Corps, I missed the relationships I had with my fellow marines and thought for many years that those relationships where the best I would ever have. I was wrong. Laying down one’s life for a friend doesn’t just mean that you will take a bullet for someone, it doesn’t just mean that you will die for someone it really means that you would be willing to put your life aside to help them, it means that you would be willing to place every other relationship on hold for them, it means that you would be willing to sacrifice anything for them. Christ did this for us, not just by dying for us, but by putting aside what He wanted and doing what God wanted. In the garden of Gethsemane Christ asked for the cup to be taken from Him:
Mark 14:35-36 (NKJV) 35 He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36 And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”
Dying for someone seems to me the easy path, laying one’s life down for someone is a much more difficult process. It requires putting yourself and everything you want second. It is what we are supposed to do in our relationship with God, and what God tells us to do in our relationships with each other.
1 Samuel 18:1-4(NKJV) 1 Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2 Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore. 3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.
Jonathan loves David so much that he chooses David over his own family. He warns David of his fathers’ treachery on a few occasions.
So, who do you know that you are willing to put everything in your life on hold for? Easy answer for those of us who have children…but again, we have to take our relationship one step further. It’s simple to put aside those things we want, those things we want to do for our children, always going to ball games, or practices. Parents take time from our lives to run a shuttle service, laundry service, cleaning service and general all around “whatever it takes” service. Easy for our kids. How about our friends? Are we willing to put aside what we want for our friends? Are we willing to drop what we are doing to help out those people in our lives that our closest to us? Are we willing to lay down our lives for our friends?
Last week we read:
1 John 3:7-15 (NIV)
7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not lovetheir brother and sister. 11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters,[a] if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
1 John 3:16-18 (NIV) 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
James 4:4 (NLT) 4 You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.
Proverbs 18:24 (ESV) 24A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 22:24-25 (NLT)24 Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, 25 or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.
1 Corinthians 15:33-34 (NIV) 33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.
So here is what I think is the hard part. Everything up till now is pretty easy, love each other, put each other first, give generously of what God gives you…fairly simple. The hard part for most people is the willingness to correct each other. Paul is quite clear, “Come back to your senses!” He corrects his friends all the time, and is sometimes brutal about it. Are we willing to correct our friends? Are we willing to take the chance that we are going to offend them? Are we willing to make ourselves uncomfortable by speaking the truth into someone else’s life? Are we willing to hear that same correction?
If we are not willing to do these things, than we are not really friends, just acquaintances.
Proverbs 27:6 (NKJV)6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.