Summary: What God has to say about friendship
Intro: We’ve been talking the last few weeks about times when the world looks at us and sees failure, but where also God can see success. Almost everyone here has heard of a man called Dale Carnegie. He won notoriety and became rich teaching people a few basic principles of how to relate to others. He called his course, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” And these were very good courses. A friend of mine went through them. He really enjoyed them. Yet, the question we need to ask ourselves this morning is this: “Am I really called to have a lot of friends?”
We want to talk about friendships this morning. The truth we need to see is that there were many great men and women of God who faced the loss of friendships for the cause of Christ. We could talk about Jeremiah, who was mocked and thrown into a miry pit. God had told him not to be afraid of the people, but to speak only the words He gave Jeremiah. We could talk about Isaiah, who was told about his prophecy that the nation would have eyes and ears, but not see and hear. Tradition tells us they put Isaiah in a log and sawed him in half. We could talk about Elijah who went off into the wilderness and complained that he was the only one standing for God.
We could look at the example of Jesus Christ. Here was a man who was a model for us. Here is a man who was accused of being the friend of sinners, and he was. Yet there came a time in his life when many of his disciples turned away. Jesus even turned to his 12 closest disciples and asked if they too wanted to turn away. Later, at the time of his arrest and mock trial, all had deserted him and gone their own ways.
Sometimes the will of God is that we lose friends, or rather those who we would consider to be “friends.” Really, we find out who are true friends really are. Let’s talk about friendships this morning, and see what God has to say about them.
I. We know that friendships are desirable
*Friends help one another - Ecc. 4:9 - Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no-one to help him up!
*Friends are trustworthy - Prov. 17:17 - A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Prov. 27:6 - Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.
*You have to be a friend to get a friend - Prov. 18:24 - A man [that hath] friends must shew himself friendly
*Not all those claiming to be friends are friends - Prov. 19:4 - Wealth brings many friends, but a poor man’s friend deserts him.
It’s so easy for us to focus on the benefits of friendship, that sometimes we fail to realize that there are times when it is because of successfully following God’s will that we lose friends. This is where I would like us to truly focus this morning.
II. Sometimes following God means standing alone
Turn with me to 1 Kings 22. Here in this chapter we find the story of the prophet Micaiah. Jehoshaphat is a godly king of Judah, the southern Kingdom of Israel. Read with me in chapter 22 of I Kings, starting with verse 1. Read verses 1-9
2 Chronicles 18 tells us that God blessed Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, and he had peace with all the neighboring nations. He married into the family of Ahab, king of Israel, the northern kingdom of the Jews. No wonder that Ahab comes and wants this King to help him. Being a godly king, Jehoshaphat seeks for advice from God. Yet, we know that Ahab was a wicked king. Remember in chapter 19 of I Kings, Elijah has just called down fire and he killed the 450 prophets of Baal who served Ahab and his wicked queen, Jezebel. So, look here in verse 6. When Jehoshaphat wants to find out God’s will, what does Ahab do? He consults with his 400 prophets. Who were they?
To find this out, we have to go back to I Kings 19 and the story of Elijah. Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table." These were pagan prophets of Ahab’s idol, Ashtoreth, the goddess of fertility. The 450 prophets of Baal were destroyed, leaving the 400 prophets of Asherah. No wonder Jehoshaphat asks Ahab, don’t you have a prophet of Jehovah. [Remember, whenever you see LORD it means, Jehovah, the name of our God.]