Summary: Describes the basics of Christian friendship.
FUNDAMENTALS OF FRIENDSHIP
Jackie Robinson was the first black to play major league baseball. While breaking baseball’s “color barrier”, he faced jeering crowds in every stadium. While playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he committed an error. His own fans began to ridicule him. He stood at second base, humiliated, while the fans jeered.
Then shortstop “Pee Wee” Reese went over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Jackie Robinson and faced the crowd. The fans grew quiet. Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career.
Now you may say to yourself, “I wish I had a friend like that,” or “I’m glad I have a friend like that.” But I want to challenge you today to be able to say, “I will BE a friend like that.”
The Bible speaks of friendship; it has guidance on being a good friend, just as it contains instructions and guidance for other areas of our lives. So open your Bible this morning and turn with me to the book of Proverbs. Proverbs chapter 18 and verse 24.
> Proverbs 18:24 A man with many friends may be harmed, but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother.
This verse is translated a little differently in different versions. After looking at them, I believe this is probably the closest. In this verse we see a comparison between many companions, or many friends, and true friends. Notice, not every companion, not every acquaintance is a friend. You and I need to understand, right from the beginning, that you cannot be everyone’s friend. You can be friendly to everyone, but you cannot be everyone’s friend. There are limitations to friendship.
I. LIMITATIONS TO FRIENDSHIP
Think for a moment of Jesus; our Savior and Lord, the One Whom we are to model our lives after. During His earthly stay, Jesus ministered to, healed, and taught, thousands of people. In spite of the countless numbers of people Jesus encountered, He only had 12 apostles. Of the 12, there were 3 of the group who were especially close to Him. There were only 3 invited to go with Him when He was transfigured on the mountain. When Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane the night He was arrested, only 3 were invited to go apart with Him to pray. Of the three, only one was called the Disciple Jesus loved.
> John 13:23 One of His disciples, the one Jesus loved, was reclining close beside Jesus.
> John 20:2 So she ran to Simon Peter and to the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him!”
We read of the disciple Jesus loved again in John 21:7. and 21:20.
Those of you who have been taking a guilt trip because you feel that you’re letting people down because you can’t be everyone’s friend, need to give it break. You cannot be equally friendly to everyone. You can and should be friendly to everyone, as Jesus was. But, you cannot be equally everyone’s friend. That’s why our verse concludes, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
In our imperfect world, you and I will have 3 groups of people that we encounter regularly. I’m not speaking of just acquaintances. I’m talking about people you regularly interact with. First, there are those you minister to.
1. Those you Minister To – There are needy people you and I need to reach out and minister to. You know the one’s I’m talking about. They are the ones that you regularly encourage. They are the ones that need someone to listen. They are the ones who leave you feeling drained everytime to talk to them.
Perhaps it’s some people at work, who have no one to listen to them or minister to them at home. Perhaps it’s a neighbor who comes over and unloads all of his or her frustrations.
Everyone of us, as Christians, should have people we regularly minister to and help. That’s part of sharing God’s love. But, if all you have in your life are a bunch of needy people who lean on you, then you will be drained and run down. That’s why this verse begins, “A man with many friends may be harmed.” If all you have in your life is people you minister to, then you will be drained. You will be hurt.
To help us, God provides a second group of people, and these are the people who minister to us.
2. Those who Minister to us – A while back I was having some struggles, so I called a couple of people who minister to me. When I called those men, I didn’t call to encourage them. I didn’t even really ask how they were doing at first. I just called and began to unload. I just called and said, “Hey, this is how I’m feeling; I’m a little frustrated by this, will you pray for me.” And you know what? They encouraged me. They picked me up. They prayed for me.