Faithful, Forgiving Friends: A Brief Study on Godly Friendship
So today will be my first topical study with y’all and I want us to look at friendship and forgiveness.
We’ll cover: What does a Christian friendship look like? What is its function? What we do when friends fail.
When I say the word “friend” what comes to your mind? How would you define “friend”? “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection”-Google dictionary.
Does your definition of “friend” change at all when we think of godly friendships?
If so, how?
Friends, in general, are a mutual bond. Godly friends are a mutual bond by God in our common faith.
Godly friendships involve 3 things: faith, fellowship, forgiveness.
Godly friendships have faith in the work/power of God in the other person and help/encourage them in that work. They have fellowship with one another and the Great Friend-Christ.
They also have forgiveness; both friends are redeemed sinners, we should not be surprised when we cause harm/division in the relationship but, knowing this, we should be ready to forgive as we ourselves have been forgiven.
What are some of your favorite examples of friendship in the bible?
One of my favorites is Jonathan meeting David in 1 Samuel 20:4-17.
Does anyone know what the context of this passage is? What’s going on in David’s life right now?
Long story short, the current king of Israel, Saul, is not the ordained king of Israel, David. The prophet Samuel has already denounced King Saul for his great disobedience to God and anointed David as the proper king; David is merely waiting for God to put him on the throne at His timing.
While David is waiting, Saul knows of David’s anointing, God’s choosing of him for king. Saul doesn’t want to lose his throne and has grown jealous and hateful toward innocent David and, at this point in the story, intents to kill David. Saul’s son, Jonathan, realizes what God ruling and submits to it and Jonathan is helping David escape because of his love for him.
Later in this chapter, Jonathan warns David of his father’s intent to kill him and aid in his escape.
How would you define David and Jonathan’s friendship?
Faithful/loyal to one another and to the promises of God.
Risky, in chapter 20
What was the foundation of their friendship?
Their trust in God.
Let’s keep all that in mind and look to another example of friendship.
Turn to Job 1.
What do y’all notice here? Who are our characters? What are they doing?
Satan is allowed, permitted, to test Job. Notice, it is God who allowed this evil to take place; but He did not do it by His own hand. Even when the dog named Devil is rabidly running wild he is still tied tightly to the golden chain of providence on the Oaktree of purpose in God’s yard. “Even the devil is God’s devil”-Martin Luther.
Very briefly table our discussion on friendship, and switch gears for a moment.
Examine your heart; does this depiction of sovereignty and suffering bother you? How?
If it does, then I will tell you this: keep reading the scriptures. The Spirit will reveal the beautiful tapestry of the bigness and the goodness of God in due time. Once this happens your heart will know great comfort and joy and your mind great meditations on God.
If it doesn’t then let heart ever be glad!
On back to friendship; if you were there with Job how would you respond to witnessing such a calamity?
After your initial reaction, what would you do/say to Job? Would you comfort him? Rebuke him? Or some other action all together?
Look to Job 2:11-13
Based on this text, what should we do to help our friends in hardship?
2:13 is one of the only places in Job where his friends acted well, rightly. When someone is in suffering do not try to reason the suffering for them or cheap Christian cliches.
Simply suffer with them. Be humble and inform them that you are there for them-you are there to humbly, attentively, lovingly listen to them, or cry with them if need be. In heat of hardship let bear your heart for them in prayer for them and yourself that they would be healed and that you be a ready tool in the Father’s hands for their healing when the time is right or when they inform you that they need you.
In the heat of hardship be the lowly love of the Lord toward them when you can be.
Job’s friends go one to try and comfort him with such talks as ‘surely the innocent prosper’ (4), ‘you should repent Job’ (8), ‘you deserve worse’ (11), ‘God punishes the wicked (18), ‘the wicked will suffer’ (20), and ‘Job’s wickedness is great’ (22).
With such great friends like these Job still trusts God.
Is Job ever actually comforted in his hardship?
Turn to Job 38:1-7, 39:26-40:2.
Perhaps Paul had Job 40:2 in mind when he wrote Romans 9:19-20, 9 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”.
Is there any comfort in these words from God to Job?
Not strictly speaking no.
Why does God say all these things to Job?
Because one is not comforted or healed by wondering how great they are but by how great God is. God is telling Job just how majestic He is, especially in comparison to Job.
One does not go to the grand canyon or see a starry night, and wonder how great, worthy, or beautiful they are but how great, worthy and beautiful the Creator is and there, in beholding Him, there is healing. Indeed He is a great friend-one who saves and heals. It is in this God that we trust, that we have our full faith in.
Which leads to our next point:
Can any of you think of a biblical example of fellowship?
Turn to Luke 5:17-26
What do y’all notice about this passage?
They clearly loved this man. It is possible, though unknown, that they were family. Whatever their exact relationship they clearly knew, loved this man and wanted him to be healed-they had a common, hope (that the Christ would heal him) love (for the man) and purpose (to see him healed).
Only big brain questions today: Do you think it was easy to carry this man to Jesus?
Not at all. Exhausting even.
This faith and fellowship are simple and sure but not easy.
What other lessons on friendship do you see here in this story?
They were serious about seeing their friend healed.
The friend, and probably the carriers, had faith.
Who did the carriers bring him to?
Jesus. No doubt the greatest thing you can do for your friends is bringing them to Jesus. Whether that be bringing the vessel by which they come to faith or you can bring them to Jesus in prayer for them.
What should we pray for our friends?
If you have any intention of bringing your friends to Christ, both saved and not, you must bring them to Christ in prayer.
How can we bring our unsaved friends to Christ? What are some ways we can reach them with the Gospel?
We all know well and good that this is an “out of season” (2 Tim. 4:2) that we are in; the culture, the institutions, the system is openly hostile to the Gospel. However, that said, the time has never been more ripe for an honest, humble, loving presentation of the Gospel to the heathen. You don’t need to know all the answers but you do need to know the answer-the hope of the anchor of your soul, the joy of your life. If you know Jesus in your personal life you should have no real trouble speaking of Him in your public life.
Speaking of evangelism, should we be merely waiting for some big outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives, waiting for just the right opportunity before telling them about Christ?
No. There is a time for waiting, but at some point, we must step out of the boat and do that which Jesus has commanded us to do. Your presentation need not be lofty or elegant but simple and sincere.
Perhaps invite a friend out for a free lunch and tell them something like, “I don’t know if you know this or not but I’ve been a Christian for a while now and that means that Christ is my Lord and Savior and I want to talk to you about Him; maybe talk about any questions you might have about God, Jesus the Bible or whatever so that you can know Him too.”
Anyone else wants to add anything?
Can you think of an example of forgiveness in the bible? Particularly between friends?
Let\’s look at the sharp result of the offense.
Turn to Acts 15:36-41.
Mark, John Mark, accompanied Barnabas and Paul to Antioch and later to Cyprus. He deserted them at Perga (13:13) and Paul refused to take him on his second missionary journey because of that desertion. He accompanied Barnabas to Cyprus.
What does it take to forgive an offense? Great love for God and friends. Our friends aren’t always perfect. The closer, more vulnerable, we are with our friends the more we’re gonna hurt-from taking on their pain but also from them hurting us somehow. In our friendships, we model what Christ did for us- great love, vulnerability, and forgiveness.
Later in Paul’s life, having proven himself in the faith he would later be accepted companion and coworker for the Gospel, particularly in Col. 4:10 where Paul instructs that church to receive Mark as a brother. During Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome, Paul sought Mark’s presence as useful to him (2 Tim. 4:11).
This said: Let’s cut the crap. How can we be better friends to each other? How can we better show Christ in our friendships?
Be willing to listen and help one another when necessary.
More back-and-forth conversation, more depth/honesty of conversation at study or lunch.