New Hope Baptist Church
January 7, 2007
Text: 1 Sam. 18:1-4
All of us in this room today have experienced in some way a person that we called friend. Now, that experience may have been bad, or it may have been good. I think you would agree that having a friend also brings about a certain amount of joy and it is really good to feel like we have a closeness with someone, but many times those friendships bring sorrow or pain.
Can you remember your earliest friendship? Was it in elementary school? Was it earlier than that? All of us need someone to call friend; someone other than our parents or our siblings. Sometimes it is not easy to be completely open and completely honest with our family. They live with us everyday and they know a lot of stuff about us anyhow. Sometimes we need to share our real thoughts, our real hopes, our dreams, our secrets and our failures and fears with a person we can trust. Usually that person is someone we call friend. The thing is, there are some important ingredients to friendships that keep some relationships at the acquaintance level and then allow others to become genuine friendships.
Notice first that I have used the words relationships and friendships in the same sentence. Now, let me try and simply tell you the difference. A relationship can be merely an association, or a contact, or an interaction with someone or thing. You can have relationship with your computer or your pet; with your sofa or your teacher. A friendship, on the other hand, is a companionship; a closeness; a familiarity and an alliance with someone. In other words, in a friendship you have investment. It costs something. That’s important. Remember that. A friendship costs something.
Have you ever heard the expression, “birds of a feather, flock together?” Well, it simply means that people who are alike usually hang out together. Even though that’s an old saying, it really is rather true. If you put in a lot of time, if you exchange enough ideas and thoughts with any group, eventually, you will identify with that group. The Bible says the same thing like this, in Prov. 23:7, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” You see, friendships cost something, remember? It does not matter what kind of friendship it is, it will cost you something. You time, your loyalty, your allegiance, the ideals that your parents taught you, you morals, you common sense, your independence. So, the important thing is not so much that we have friendships and relationships, but the kind of friendships and relationships that we have.
For a few minutes today, I want us to look at a friendship in the Bible between two people that we have probably heard a lot about; David and Jonathan. We are looking and these two people because their friendship is a very good model for us of what true friendship is meant to be. David had just beaten the biggest giant of the time, Goliath. After David defeated the giant, he was invited to meet with King Saul. It was kind of like the Lakers winning a hard championship and then being invited to the White House to meet with the President. Well, King Saul was so impressed with David that he insisted that David stay at the palace with him and his family. Then, David met Jonathan, Saul’s son who was next in line to be King.
Almost immediately something clicked between these two young men. They saw something in each other that led them to form a bond of friendship. They became the best of friends. Jonathan made a special vow to be David’s friend, and he sealed the pact by giving David his robe, his jacket, his sword and bow, and his belt.
Have you ever had an experience like that? I know when I was a kid, we would prick our fingers and become blood brothers with other kids, but those relationships didn’t last too long. All it took was a little jealousy at something or somebody to say “yo momma” and it was on! But I have experienced a couple of special friendships like David and Jonathan’s. I was at a very difficult time in my life and I really didn’t have many friends, or people that I even called friend. I was lonely and I felt as though no one cared. Then, I met this lady. She sensed that something was not right in my life, but she also sensed that there were some good qualities that she wanted to know better. We began to talk and visit each other. Soon, we decided that we would be real friends. We made a vow to each other that nothing or no one would ever come between our friendship. We have been friends for over 35 years. True friendship will last the test of time.
As the young boys grew, David gained a lot of popularity all around Israel because he was so successful at war. King Saul got jealous and began to feel threatened by David’s success, so he banned David from the palace and demoted him in the army to be over only a small group of troops. But, no matter what King Saul did to tray and make David fail, the Lord just kept on blessing him and making him successful.
David began to feel in his heart that the King was against him, and that in fact he wanted David killed. David shared his fears with his friend, Jonathan. It was very difficult for Jonathan to hear and believe these things against his own father, especially that his father wanted to do harm to his friend, David. But Jonathan promised to talk to his father and to let David know for sure if his life was in danger or not. He only asked David to treat him with faithful love as long as he lived, or if he died, to love his family faithfully. You see, it was no easy thing to go before the King and question him about his intentions. The two young men reaffirmed their friendship and love, for the Bible says, “…for Jonathan loved David as much as he loved himself”. In fact, Jonathan would have preferred David to be king over him.
From this friendship we can see the first ingredient of true friendship: true friendship is unselfish. Jonathan loved David as himself. That type of friendship is only possible when we can set aside self, set aside our own desires for what’s best for others. Jesus said that “the greatest command of God is to love Him with all of our heart, all of our mind, all of our soul and strength, and that we love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.” Jonathan felt a debt of love toward his friend David that would have prompted him to do anything to serve and honor him. Remember, real love costs something. Real friends are willing to lay down their own agendas, their own expectations, and even their own lives in favor of what’s best for the other person. Again Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).” This tells us that the love of real friendships is not just selfless and serving, but it is also sacrificial.
Jonathan really wanted the best for David, and there was a lot at stake for him. By being David’s friend, Jonathan risked being disinherited, he would receive his father’s anger, yet he unselfishly ensured David’s future over his own. He wanted to help David to become what he was intended to be, King.
Now, how do your friendships match up to this one? Do your friendships really reflect selflessness? Do your closest friends have your best interest in mind? Do you have their best interest in mind, or are you always looking for what you can get out of the relationship?
Another ingredient that we find from this friendship is: real friendship is faithful. Prov. 17:17 says: “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” All of us want to be in loyal friendships. Deep down we want to be known for who we are but we will not risk these things if we cannot trust that our hearts are secure. We want friendships where we are accepted and loved just as we are with no hint of judgment or condemnation.
On the human level, that kind of love is really rare. There really isn’t a human relationship that won’t fail our expectations. No human can be perfectly faithful, only Jesus has the ability to be faithful to our hearts in ways that ensure our inner security. This doesn’t mean that we don’t risk sharing our hearts with others; it just means that our human relationships cannot be all we expect them to be.
Though our friends may fail us at times, though they may not always understand us, and though they may not always be able to see us like Jesus does, we can experience faithful, human friendships. It depends on the sincerity of the commitment we make to others. If we really care, we will show it with our actions and attitudes. If we really love someone, we will make the time to include them in our lives. If we really mean what we say, we will have the integrity, the honesty to back our words with action.
Jonathan made a commitment, a verbal commitment to be David’s friend. He proved his commitment to David time and time again by going to the wall for David. He didn’t always see what David was talking about, like the time David told him that his father wanted him dead. But he was wiling to check into it because he made a commitment. That is the third ingredient of real friendship: real friendships protect.
Real friendships say: I’ll be with you through thick and thin; if you’re in trouble, I’ll be there; if your heart is breaking, my heart will break too; if you’re confused and discouraged, I’ll be there to pick you up.” Real friends protect each other. This protection may not always be a physical protection, but sometimes we need to protect the reputation of our friends. That means that we honor their trust in us when they share things that they may not want others to know. That means that we only speak good things about them and not bad. That means that we do not let them walk into a trap if we know about it. We protect our friends.
We need each other because that’s how God created us. We need friends to step up and be there when life really gets tough, and we need them to be there when things are going great too. Without real friendships our lives in this world will be less that it was created to be. God desires friends for us. He wants us to know the joy of being cared for and loved by another human being. That’s what true friendship can offer. It is so comfortable, such a good feeling to know that there is someone who has your best interest at heart; someone who has your back in prayer; someone you can depend on no matter what comes; someone with whom you can be open and real; someone who will love you anyhow.
Real friendships are unselfish; real friendships are faithful and real friendships protect. The thing is, in your lifetime, you may not experience very many real friendships because they are on purpose, not accidental. You will be blessed if you find one good friend. In other words, learn to choose your friends, and determine between the two of you to be real friends. You may have many acquaintances, but true friendships don’t happen everyday.
I told you earlier about a real friend of mine. In fact, I have had three real friendships in my life time, so far. Each of those friendships was chosen on purpose, and each has supported the ingredients that I have told you about. Each of these friendships have lasted the test of time. Two of my friends have gone to be with the Lord and one remains. We have been friends almost 30 years. Now, this doesn’t mean that there is only one person in the world that I call friend, but is does mean that there is only one person, besides my family that I know for sure will be there for me in thick and thin. We know each others good sides and dark sides, we have experienced many things in life together, yet we still love each other, on purpose, in a committed friendship.
I do have another friendship that is even stronger that this one. A friendship that was chosen, on purpose, even before the world began. The other person in this friendship began by thinking and doing what was best for me, at a great cost to Himself. I owe this friend everything, but I can never repay Him for what he did for me. He is a friend who knows the deepest, darkest corners of my heart yet, he loves me. He is a friend who knows me better than I know myself and a friend who sticks closer to me than a brother. This friend is Jesus. I’m grateful this morning, that Jesus knew that I would need a Savior, that I would need a way to get to God; so without thought of His own majesty, or His own well being, He came into this world and died for my sins, even though He never sinned, He took my sins upon Himself and died in my place on a cross so that I could one day come to live in His home forever, with Him and His Father. And even after doing all of that, he still never leaves me alone.
Let me tell you something else about our friendship. I can walk with Him everyday. I can tell Him anything and He never tells anybody else and He doesn’t hold it against me. He never condemns me. He always encourages me to do better, and He only has good things to say about me to others. Why, because He sees me with a perfect love. But the most amazing thing is that He wants to be that kind of friend to everyone. He has already made the first move. He died, not just for my sins, but for the sins of the whole world. If anyone comes to Him, He will be their friend also and love them with a perfect love. He is perfect; He is truly unselfish, for He died even though He didn’t have to. He died so others could have the opportunity to choose life.
He is faithful, for He has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you”. He will never turn His back on you, forget His promises or break a vow. He makes sure that we have all we need to survive on this earth and He had already prepared a place in His Father’s house for our eternal abode.
He is a protector, for He said that He would keep us in all our ways if we keep our minds stayed on Him. Just like David killed the giant of the land, Goliath, Jesus has already conquered the most frightening things to mankind, death and the grave. You see, When He died, it was on a Friday and He stayed in the grave all that day and all day on Saturday, but very early on Sunday morning, He got up from the grave and He declared that all power, both in Heaven and on earth were in His hands. He said that if we are in His hands, no man would be able to take us out of His hands because He was in the Father’s hand and nobody could remove Him from the Fathers’ hand. He is our protector in all things. All we have to do is call on Him and He will hear us and save us. Jesus is the real true friend of the Christian. Aren’t you glad like me that you have such a friend as Him?
What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!