The Friend You Are, The Friend You Need

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Proverbs Selections from Proverbs | August 11 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
August 11
The Friend You Are, The Friend You Need | Proverbs Selections from Proverbs
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Let’s pray.  Hallelujah, what a savior, hallelujah, what a friend.  Our heavenly Father, we give You praise for the Lord Jesus Christ who has been to us, not only our savior, but the friend that sticks closer than a brother.  We thank You that You have not kept us at arm’s length, but you have welcomed us is, You have called us your own.  You have told us things that You reveal only to your friends.  And what a joy and privilege that we can be counted among them.  So help us now as we come to Your Word that we would have ears to hear from You as You speak to your friends, that we might know better the Lord Jesus and we might, as we follow Him, be better friends to one another.  We pray in Christ’s name.  Amen.

We talk often about relationships in the church.  Seminars, Sunday School classes, sermon series, conferences on relationships.  I imagine that many of you have been to various marital seminars or maybe even a marriage cruise or a conference or a class, or you’ve read books on the marriage relationship, and you should, that’s important.  You probably sought out resources for the parent-child relationship.  You’ve probably heard sermon series on parenting, marriage.  And these are massively important.

And yet, we seldom study those relationships which so often make or break us as people in the church.  Friends.  We seldom study friendship.

If I could ask how many of..  In fact, I will.  Audience participation.  How many of you have ever read a book on marriage?  Okay, hands down.  How many of you have ever read a book on parenting?  How many have ever read a book on getting along with your parents?  Kids, no?  Okay.  [laughter]  A few, yeah.  How many of you have read a book on friends?  Not C.S. Lewis.  Mm kay.  There’s not many.  We don’t have the same resources, the same books, and yet our, some of our greatest joys in life are with our friends.

When you have friends to play with, when you have friends to go on vacation with, we have friends to come over and have a meal with, life is great.  And some of our greatest sorrows in life come from our friends who hurt us, or when we seem to be on the outside looking in, or when we feel awkward.  It’s hard for us as adults to make friends.

I remember hearing a stand-up comedian say one time, you know, we don’t make friends as adults like we would do when we we’re kids.  When we’re kids, you meet somebody, hey, you’re the same age I am – we should be friends!  You’re 6, I’m 6, let’s hang out.

It doesn’t work that way.  You’re 42, I’m 42.  We must have lots in common.  It’s hard to find friends.

Almost anything bad can be sweet with friends.  And almost anything good can be terrible without them.

I think I’ve told you before about one of the hardest summers in my life, which was in between my freshman and sophomore year in college.  I had a professor my freshman year say “oh, Kevin, I see real promise in and I want you to come work with me on this national government textbook.”  Oh, it’s very exciting as it sounds.  Well, it appealed to my pride.  Well, of course I should say yes to this instantly.  What I realized later is that the professor was an older single… I mean, you would not be allowed to do this even today.  You probably shouldn’t have been.  But he took two college guys and we went out into the mountains of Colorado where he had a summer place and we didn’t have running water, we didn’t have electricity…   You see where I get my camping issues [laughter]…  And we, we worked all summer on a national government textbook.  It was beautiful, pristine, mountain views right outside of the outhouse door that you could leave open.  [laughter] And I lost a lot of weight and I read a lot of books, but I can tell you, everything that you had to endure with, you know, not having the usual electricity and all those sort of amenities, you get used to that really in a heartbeat.  What I never got used to was the absence of friends.  It was so lonely.

Some of you may feel that way.  I bet, this is not scientific, this is maybe not even the way it should be, but this is the way that it is.  If you were to measure church satisfaction by members in this church or probably in any church, how satisfied are you with your church, I bet for most people that satisfaction survey is largely based on two things, to put it sort of crassly:  The quality of Sunday morning and do I have any friends?

And if you have great friends, you sort of, you know, endure maybe if it’s not the best product on Sunday morning, and maybe if it seems to be really great music and great leadership and great preaching, you endure without really the people knowing you, but over the long haul, those are the two things.  Friendship is a wonderful gift when you have it, and it is increasingly hard to come by.

Think about some of the most popular sitcoms of the past couple decades.  Not recommending you go out and watch all of them:  Seinfeld, Cheers, Friends, The Office, Big Bang Theory.  What are they all about?  They’re all about groups of friends, even all of those having very dysfunctional friendships.  That’s part of why people laugh.  But they’re about people in relationship.

And it’s harder and harder to find.  Part of it is our mobility.  We move to different places, we travel all around.  If you’re here on a Sunday two times out of a month, that’s stretching it for some people.  We got business, we got friends, we got vacation.  We’re all over the place.  Just the design of our homes and our cities, though city planners are trying to change this by making things walkable and inviting public spaces.

The sheer fact that family life requires more time than it ever did before.  Even back when I was a kid lo these many years ago.  I mean, but now it’s constant, all of the activities that the children have almost every night of the week.  Family life takes so much time.

And technology can help, help us connect, but it can also hurt.  Technology is great at giving us all sorts of acquaintances.  It’s not very great at giving us real friends.

You have lots of relationships.  I’m sure you do.  You have people sitting around you that you know.  You have people in a Covenant group maybe.  You have people at work that will say hi when you walk in.  You have people when you walk through the neighborhood, they wave and say good morning.  You have lots of people you know.  Think how many friends do you have.

We have acquaintances.  Joseph Epstein, in his book on friendship, says “acquaintance is someone you may see often, but there is never an obligation to see them again.”  You run into them at a conference, you see them at the office, but you, you don’t feel an obligation to go plan something.  An acquaintance is someone you just, you run into all the time.  You end up at places.

We all have families, some far, some maybe estranged, but at some point there are family connections and we have to sort through those, but friendship feels optional.  You’re born into a family; you choose your friends.

C.S. Lewis says, in his book on the four loves, about friendship it is the least natural of the loves, the least instructive, organic, biological, gregarious and necessary.

Which is perhaps maybe why Proverbs 20:6 says “many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man” or woman, or you might just say a faithful friend, “who can find?”

And what I want to focus on is how to be a friend.  You could focus on how to get friends, but I want to focus on being friends.  And we’ll see this again in just a moment, but sadly those most needy to get friends are often those least successful in the pursuit of friendship.  So if you are here this morning and think this is a painful sermon, I’m in this big church and I don’t really know anyone, yes, it’s incumbent upon other people to come and invite you and welcome you, but you only can control what you can control.  And if you leave the sermon thinking “I am just a needy, empty, leaky love tank waiting for people to come and befriend me,” that is usually a recipe for making it very hard to be your friend.

So go out and think “what must I do?  What can I do to be the sort of friend that God’s Word calls us to be?”

I have three questions as you consider what sort of friend you are.  Are you fake?  Are you foul?  Are you faithful?  Genius, I know.

Are you fake?  Number one.  One characteristic of the fake friend in Proverbs is that he or she uses people.  The fake friend makes friends with people who give him things.  He establishes relationships for personal gain.  In Proverbs, this usually means money.

Proverbs 19:4:  “Wealth brings many new friends, but a poor man is deserted by his friend.”

Proverbs 14:20:  “The poor is disliked by his neighbor, but the rich has many friends.”

Proverbs 19:6 and 7:  “Many seek the favor of a generous man, and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts, all a poor man’s brothers hate him.  How much more do his friends go far from him.  He pursues them with words, but does not have them.”

In Proverbs, we see that wealth attracts friends, or at least so-called friends, and it also complicates friendships.  We see oftentimes, in Proverbs 6, for example, we are warned against getting entangled in loans for friends or putting up your cloak for security for friends, because some of us know by experience that you mix business and friendship and it gets messy.

If you are rich, or successful, or significant in some way, you can’t help but wonder from time to time, what’s the real reason these people are being so nice to me?  We might even be suspicious of our own motives.  Sometimes we should be.

I was pastoring in East Lansing and from time to time we would have a famous athlete come to the church.  You know, this is just an 18-, 19-, 20-year-old kid.  I’m a pastor.  I’m supposed to be mentoring, discipling, preach the Gospel, and I’d have to remind myself, Pastor, not fan, Pastor, not fan.  This person needs you to be a pastor.  He needs you to talk to him about the Bible, not about the cover two defense.  I’d have to check myself.  Why, why am I drawn to this person?

But it could be athletics.  It could be looks.  It could be wealth.  It could be anything that elevates someone as a person of significance.

I remember reading a book on Billy Graham and the Presidents.  It’s an excellent book.  And there, as you know, he had over 50 years of being close to most of the Presidents.  For lots of reasons, as Billy Graham became famous, they often wanted a photo op with him.  Some of them had a genuine spiritual interest, some just by tradition, but what struck me as I read the book is that one of the reasons the Presidents said over and over that they liked to have Billy Graham around is Billy Graham didn’t seem interested in getting anything from them.  Well, maybe because he was maybe the only person in the world who was more well-known than they were already, but they felt like here was someone they could talk to who wasn’t like everyone else in Washington who must surround a President:  You can give me something, you can get me a job, you can pull the levers of power, you can give me access.  And he was there for them.

Make sure you love the person you love and you don’t just love what they can give you.  Money is the example in Proverbs, but there are other ways to be a fake friend, other ways to use people.  Their notoriety, their popularity.  It’s very slippery, sticky business, isn’t it today, where everyone is supposed to be networking and you have your so-called friends online, and you want to be linked in with everyone.  Why are you being nice to me?  Why do you like me?  Why are you trying to establish this relationship?  It is just so that you might scratch my back and then sometime in the future I’ll scratch your back?  Or perhaps I might use my platform or we use each other’s platform.  That’s not real friendship.

It’s not wrong in business to ask people to advertise things, but it’s not friendship.  Are you drawn by self-promotion, what this person might be able to do for you?  Or perhaps they’re close to people you want to get close to…  A politician, a pastor, an athlete.  Or perhaps they can do favors for you, in business, in politics, in church.  Are you a fake friend?

Here’s the second question:  Are you a foul friend?

A foul friend, and I was stretching it a bit just to get the alliteration, I admit, but a foul friend is quick to criticize.  I think there are two types of people that have the hardest time making friends.  One, as I mentioned a moment ago, is the person who isn’t so interested in being a friend as they are very, very needy to have a friend.  Maybe they’re socially unaware.  Maybe they don’t ask any questions.  They don’t reciprocate any conversation.  They’re just there waiting for you to pour into them.  It’s a one way street.  I’m empty, I need your affirmation, I need your curiosity, go for it.  It’s very hard to make friends that way.

The other sort of person who is hard to befriend is the very hypercritical person.  They have an opinion on everything, they verbalize everything.  They are a relentless barrage of negativity.  How refreshing it is, how easy to befriend someone who is the opposite of that.

I remember years ago I was heading to a meeting and it was a meeting that was out of state and I was in the car with a whole bunch of people that I didn’t know and we were driving for three or four hours, and there was an older gentleman driving the car, and I was struck by the whole time, for three or four hours, this very kindly, gently, just kept asking questions.  Questions of us and our family and ministry and humbly inquiring, giving to us the gift of his curiosity.

As I’ve said before, C.S. Lewis made that astute observation, when you truly meet a humble person, you don’t walk away thinking “oh, wow, they were very meek and very humble.”  No, you think “wow, what a great time.  I think I just talked about myself the whole time.”  Because they were humble enough to ask you questions, to befriend you.

And I was struck by this man and all the questions he asked, and then as inevitably people would sort of maybe start to chit chat and talk business a little bit about the meeting or the organization we were a part of and things might get negative…  He always steered it away.  You know, he’d just say, “well, I, I don’t know anything about that.”

Of course there’s a time to speak openly, honestly, candidly, critically, but he was a presence of great positivity, and I thought here’s a man I just met and I would love to spend more time with him.

Proverbs 11:12:  “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.”

It’s okay to have unarticulated opinions.  Often we share as a means of self-expression.  We don’t think of what our words may be doing, or whether they are even necessary.

A foul friend gets into conflict that could have been avoided. Proverbs 3:29-30:  “Do not plan evil against your neighbor who dwells trustingly beside you.  Do not contend with a man for no reason when he has done you no harm.”

Have you had this happen to you, or you’ve done it to others?  You almost ruin a friendship because you are having a bad day.  Or because you were suspicious or jealous or too sensitive or too insensitive.

We see it in the home.  Mom’s upset with dad, and then mom’s upset with the kids, or dad’s upset with child one and therefore dad’s upset with child two and three, and on and on.

Well, it happens in friendship, too.  Something went wrong at work or it wasn’t a good day at home and you’re quick to snap, to assume the worst, to not give the benefit of the doubt.  Critical friends.

Or annoying friends.  I did tell my children.  I said, listen up, we’re going to talk about being annoying in the sermon today.

It’s not just a matter of personality or temperament.  It is about being rude.  Rude, annoying people often are not aware of, or don’t care about, social customs and cultural norms.

Two examples from Proverbs.  Proverbs 27:14:  “Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice rising early in the morning will be counted as cursing.”  And all the sleepy parents said amen.

And listen, kids, brothers, sisters, you tease each other.  That’s what big brothers or big sisters do.  I had a big brother.  I had two younger sisters.  I understand.  But there’s a way, whether as kids or adults, isn’t there?  There’s a way to tease each other that actually builds a bond of laughter and joking and bringing people together in a shared humor, and then there’s a way to tease which is simply not loving your neighbor as yourself, not saying the sort of things that you would want somebody to say to you.  And the Bible calls that rude.  And the Bible says love is not rude.

Here’s the other example.  Proverbs 25:17:  “Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house lest he have his fill of you and hate you.”  Now that’s strong.

Now here’s the paradox.  We actually want friends sort of like this, don’t we?  We want friends who we feel like my house is your house, your house is my house, come over.  We’ve had friends like that over the years.  We love to have friends like that.  So, the danger is not that you have friends who are comfortable being around you, but it’s simply a warning against tactless presumption, entitlement, no longer saying please and thank you, recognizing that we’re a guest.

It may seem like this is all unimportant stuff, just cultural greasing of the wheels, but it really is a matter of biblical obedience, that we be not rude, that we love our neighbor as ourselves.

Foul friends can be critical.  Foul friends can be annoying.  Foul friends sometimes are liars.  Blatant liars.

Proverbs 25:18:  “A man who bears false witness against his neighbor is like a war club or a sword or a sharp arrow.”

Proverbs 23:10:  “Do not move an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless for their redeemer is strong.  He will plead their cause against you.”

So there the example is a blatant liar, deceiver.  But often it’s more subtle.

Proverbs 3:  “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is in your power to do it.  Do not say to your neighbor go and come again tomorrow, I will give it, when you have it with you.”

In other words, a good friend is eager to meet the need of a neighbor, or a friend, not pushing them away, keeping them at arm’s length.  “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I have it today, but just come back tomorrow.  I don’t, I can’t be bothered with your troubles.”

Foul friends don’t keep their end of the bargain, they don’t return favors, they don’t give back what they borrowed.  They are slow to help.  They look for ways to avoid being put upon.  They’re always out of town when you have to move.  They’re always busy when you need a ride to the airport.  You cannot trust them to keep their word.

And along the same lines, foul friends are careless with their words.  Maybe you know this proverb, it’s been one that has often convicted me, especially as a younger man.  Proverbs 26:18-19.  Maybe it’s a proverb some of you need to hear.  “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says ‘I’m only joking.'”

So you get the picture?  There’s a crazy man in the street, and he’s got a flaming arrow [sound effect] Just launching them.  He’s just having a good time, it’s just fun.  He’s not trying to hurt anybody.  He’s not at war, he’s not trying to kill anybody, but sure enough you come walking up and you have a flaming arrow in your back.  You say, “Bra, that hurts.”  He says, “it was just a joke.”  “Yeah, it was a joke for you, my back is on fire.”

I came across this proverb for the first time when I was in high school.  I was not the superstar athlete, don’t want to shock you.  I was not the coolest kid, but I could be funny, and being funny too often involves laughing at someone else’s expense, especially when you’re a teenager.  And I saw that proverb and I thought “oh, no, that’s me.”  I’m not trying to hurt people, but I am.

Words can hurt after you launch them, no matter what your intention in launching them might have been.  So be careful.

Of course, yes, some people are too sensitive and some people are offended by things that have no business being offensive, but this is thinking about you and what you can control and that sort of firebrands and arrows you’re launching into the sky without being mindful of how they might affect others.

Are you a foul friend?  Are you a fake friend?  Finally, are you a faithful friend?

Proverbs sketches out the characteristics of a faithful friend.  A faithful friend is there in times of trouble.  Proverbs 27:10:  “Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of calamity.  Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away.”

That’s amazing, especially given how much family means to us and how even more significant family was in the ancient world.  For them to say “look, you’re in trouble, better to have a neighbor and a friend right there than even a brother who’s far away.”  Given how important family is in the Old Testament and the bonds of kinship, it’s surprising that Proverbs would say don’t go to your brother’s house.  The thought seems to be don’t overlook your friends.  They will be there for you every bit as much as your family will.  That’s what it means to be a real friend.

And here’s the blessing and the challenge that some of you have, ’cause some of you have the great blessing, you have lots of family here.  Maybe ’cause you grew up here, maybe ’cause people moved here, and you’ve got brothers, sisters, moms, dads, cousins, nephews…  So there’s always lots of family around.  But be mindful – there’s lot of people here who don’t have that.  And they don’t have family, and so they need your friendship, and you need to remember that God is calling you to be a faithful friend, even at times when it means going to your neighbor’s house instead of your brother’s.

Proverbs 17:17:  “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Contacts in business are good, networking can be valuable, having a plethora of acquaintances and well-wishers is nice, racking up friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter, fine.  Real friendship is proven in adversity.

Proverbs 18:24:  “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Who’s going to visit you in the hospital?  Who would drop everything to be with you if your spouse dies?  Or if you’re having marital conflict?

The opposite of a fake friend is the faithful friend.  The fake friend is in it to win it for himself.  And he will leave you when your life is messy.  The faithful friend says your life is messy, I’m coming over.

What is God up to in your suffering?  One thing that God may be doing in your suffering is to make your friendships stronger and sweeter.  You ever thought of that?  Now, He’s doing all sorts of things, but maybe that’s one of the blessings that He wants to give you in the midst of difficulty, relational difficulty with your kids, illness, work, whatever, is He wants to give you the blessing of friends coming around you, to care for you, to weep with you, to pray for you, to laugh with you, to cry with you.

A faithful friend knows how to handle conflict.  He doesn’t hold grudges.  Keeping a long, detailed record of wrongs is like building friendships with a revolver under your coat.  A conceal and carry.  You’re ready to pounce, ready to download the file in your brain marked “ways you have hurt me.”  It’s always right there.  Ways you’ve disappointed me.  That’s not how to make friends, it’s certainly not how to keep friends.  A sort of sword dangling over your head.  If your friend feels like “Well, I know he can bring up my garbage, she can bring up that stupid thing I said.”

Faithful friends do not seek revenge, they are always eager to forgive.

Proverbs 24:28-29:  “Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause.  Do not deceive him with your lips.  Do not say ‘I will do to him as he has done to me, I will pay back the man for what he has done.'”

Proverbs 21:10:  “The soul of the wicked desires evil.  His neighbor finds no mercy in his eyes.”

A faithful friend is eager to let the past be the past.  Yeah, we talk through it, we heard it out, not dwelling on it.

A faithful friend is slow to speak of their faults to others.

Proverbs 17:9:  “Whoever covers an offense, seeks love.  But he who repeats a matter separates close friends.”

Isn’t this the case..  What can build up a friendship faster than when you hear secondhand how much someone else likes you?  Isn’t that a great feeling?  Really?  They like me?  They said those nice things about me?  They thought I was helpful?  And you hear it secondhand.  Oh, that’s great.

And what tears down a friendship faster than when you hear something secondhand or thirdhand how much someone has been talking bad about you.  Oh, she said that?  Oh, that’s the way he really feels?

Speak to your friends, not around your friends.

It’s amazing how many people we will talk to when we have a personal conflict, but we don’t think to talk to the person with whom we have the conflict.  It’s like getting on one of those merry-go-rounds in the playground and never getting off.  You just keep spinning and spinning and talking to people and talking to people.  You need to get off before you’re sick and go talk to the person.

Proverbs 25:9-10:  “Argue your case with your neighbor himself and do not reveal another’s secret lest he who hears you bring shame upon you and your ill repute have no end.”

Faithful friends forgive.  Faithful friends make each other better.

Proverbs 16:29:  “A man of violence entices his neighbor and leads him in a way that is not good.”

We’ve all had friends like that, haven’t you?  I have.  The sort of friend that, boy, they’re kind of fun to be around, but after you’re with them, you feel just, maybe a little bit dirty, little bit like that friend is always pushing you to say things or laugh at things or watch things that you shouldn’t do.  Sort of like that was fun, but I, I don’t feel like a better Christian.

And then you have those friends when you leave the party, when you come home after the conversation with them, you feel a sense of clean, you feel “I feel like I’m better able to follow Jesus after spending time with him, after talking to her.”

1 Corinthians 15:33:  “Bad company corrupts good character.”

May your strongest relationships be with those who lead you to Christ, not with those who draw you away from Christ.  This is especially true when you are young.  Yes, we want relationships with non-Christians.  Yes, we want to be engaging non-Christians.  Yes, we can have very good friendships with people who do not know the Lord.  But especially when you are young and you are much more impressionable than you think, spend your time with those who will draw you closer to Jesus, not with those who will push you away.  Let our deepest friendships be Gospel friendships.

Is that what your deepest friendships are about?  I bet if we’re honest, some of our deepest friendships are football friendships, or they’re complaining friendships, or fishing friendships, or HGTV friendships.  Are they Gospel friendships?

Proverbs 27:9:  “Oil and perfume make the heart glad and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.”

You notice the proverb is comparing two precious things, oil and perfume, and the writer is saying those are not as precious as a wise friend.

Go to your friends.  Talk to them about the hardest things.  Talk to them about sex, money, the things we keep hidden.  Get their advice before buying a house, taking a new job, getting married.  The best friends get smarter when the combine their IQs.

Proverbs 27:17, this is probably the proverb you were waiting for:  “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

Are you a sponge?  Not the good kind of sponge soaking up information.  I mean, are you a sponge as a friend?  Sponges as friends, you don’t, you’re not harming anybody.  No one says “get the sponge away from me, I’m going to be cut.”  No, sponges don’t cut people.  I guess when they’re dry.  But they don’t help.  Certainly not the image here in Proverbs is iron sharpening iron someone who has an iron tool, an implement of some sort, that needs to be sharp.  A sponge isn’t going to help you.

Or are you simply a sword?  Well, a sword is good for something.  But if your only mode as a friend is to cut, to jab, to destroy…  Proverbs says don’t be a sponge, don’t be a sword.  Be a stone.  Be that flinty rock on which the piece of iron can be hammered out, the sort of friend that makes others sharper, better, more effective, more Christ honoring.

And of course, as you think about what sort of friend you are, we would be remiss if we didn’t finish by reflecting on the sort of friend that you already have.  If you are a Christian, you have this friend, better than anything the world can give you.  The Lord Jesus.

John 15:13:  “Greater love has no one than this than one lay down his life for his friends.”

Of course, He’s more than a friend.  We would be reducing Jesus if we only knew Him as a friend.  He’s the second person of the Trinity, He’s fully God, He’s divine, He’s our atoning sacrifice, the propitiation for our sins.  But He’s not less than a friend, as we just sang.

Think of the Lord Jesus.  He’s never a fake friend.  He doesn’t need you for anything.  He’s your friend only seeking to give you advantage, always looking out for your best, not for His interest.  He laid down His life for you.  He’s never a fake friend, He’s never a foul friend.  He’s not quick to criticize.  He’s slow to anger.  He’s never annoying.  He’s thoughtful and tender and gentle.  And unlike all of our friends, the Lord Jesus never lets us down.

He’s always trustworthy, never a fake friend, never a foul friend, always a faithful friend.  For He’s there not just to sympathize with you in weakness, to comfort you in trouble, but to deliver you from your greatest trouble, from your sin.  Not only does He know how to speak only and always what is wise and true, He knows how to discipline.  How to engage in conflict, how to make peace through His blood when we had nothing but enmity towards Him.

And here’s why Jesus is unlike any friend you’ve ever had.  He, He doesn’t just make us better, He makes us new.

And so as you think about the sort of friends you need, you need Jesus friends.  And you think about the sort of friend you need to be, if you do not know Jesus, that’s the first step you need to take.  Because until you are made new by the Lord Jesus Christ, you can still have friends, for sure.  You can be a nice person, you can be a fun person.  But you will not be the sort of person that the Bible tells us we ought to be.  The sort of friend that sticks closer than a brother.  What a friend we have in Jesus, all our griefs and trials to bear.  And what a friend that you can be to others when you walk in the way that the Lord Jesus has laid out for us in His Word.

Let’s pray.  Our gracious heavenly Father, we pray very practically, tangibly, You would, You would work in Christ Covenant such a culture, such an ethos, that no one could say “well, those are friendly people, but I never found a friend.”  O Lord, there are a lot of us here and we can’t be friends with everyone, we really can’t be friends with but a few.  Lord, would you work in us the sort of place that is relationally strong and tender, that is eager to maintain and build on old friendships and at the same time just as eager to look for new ones?  Lord, would you give to those who are lonely this morning friends, for we know what the psalmist says, that you put the lonely into families.  And we pray that everyone who comes to this church would find the Gospel and they would find a Gospel friend.  And we pray it in Jesus’ name.  Amen.