Summary: Christianity begins and ends with relationship. It’s not so much about finding a true friend as it is being a true friend. Paul gives us clues that will help us become a true friend to those around us.
Marks of a True Friend
Intro: This is the final message from our series in the book of Ephesians. We’ve uncovered some gems along the way. In chapter 1, we learned about the blessings of being in Christ and how God’s life can be expressed through our lives. In ch. 2, we talked about living the A.D. life, which is a grace-filled life of transformation that affects the way we treat one another as family members together. Ch.3 revealed the mystery of Christ as God’s offer of peace to this whole world. Paul’s readers had received God’s offer, and Paul goes on in ch.3 to pray that they would receive inner strength and comprehend God’s love – even though it goes beyond comprehension. In ch.4 Paul said to treat one another graciously, building unity and staying in close relationship. He also gave practical ways to do life together by doing life with God – not without Him. Ch.5 taught us about imitating greatness, that is, loving the way He loves and giving up our own way of doing things. Then ch.5 took us through some practical ways to express love to our families (spouses, kids, and parents). Ch. 6 reminded us that God cares about our jobs, how we work and how faithful we are. The majority of ch.6 was devoted to applying the armor of God and finding what it means to us as we stand our ground against an unseen enemy.
-Christianity begins and ends with relationship, as we’ve seen throughout this study. So it is fitting that this final message is viewed in the context of relationships and how to be a true friend to those God has placed around us. Paul models true friendship and teaches about it. He also mentions a true friend of his with whom he is entrusting this letter and the mission to encourage the readers and fill them in on Paul’s situation and ministry.
-True friends can seem a bit scarce sometimes, but Paul gives us some clues to help us. It’s not so much about finding a true friend as it is being a true friend. Let’s take a look at Paul’s warm farewell to his Christian friends at Ephesus, and in the other cities where this letter may have been shared. Paul gives us clues that will help us become a true friend to those around us.
I. True Friends pray for one another (19)
19 Pray also for me…
-Paul has just told his readers that they need to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers for all the saints (followers of Jesus). Now he becomes more specific and asks them to pray for him personally. He doesn’t ask them to pray for his release from prison or that God will meet all of his needs. Those aren’t bad things, and there’s a good chance Paul had prayed for these things at times. However, he wanted his church family to whom he was writing to pray that God would give him the words to say that would boldly portray who Jesus is and why the news about Jesus is good news.
-Paul had relationship and friendship with many other Christ followers in several different cities all around the Mediterranean. Friends don’t let friends go without being prayed for!
-What is your response when someone asks you to pray for them or for a need? Do you agree to do so? Do you follow through? I try to pray as soon as possible. If I do this, it often helps me remember to pray later on as well. Just don’t fall into the trap of saying you will pray, but not keeping your word.
-Friends pray for one another because prayer makes a difference. Something happens in our lives when we pray that does not happen when we do not pray. Prayer changes the person who is being prayed for. Prayer also changes the person who is doing the praying. We pray because we care, and we care because we pray! The more we pray, the more our hearts reflect the heart of Jesus, showing genuine compassion and mercy.
-Paul mentions prayer some 58 times in his writings. He asks his friends at Rome to pray: “Join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” Romans 15:30. He told the Corinthians, “You help us by your prayers.” Corinthians 1:11 As I searched through Paul’s writings I found numerous places where he begged his readers to please pray for him and his companions that they would be able to get the message of Jesus out to all who needed to hear. Other prayers were urged for deliverance, but always within the context of being able to share God’s grace and offer of relationship with others.