Summary: Sermon for Friendship Sunday. Four Characteristics of a Real Friend.
The Value of Friendship
I am so pleased that all of you could be with us on this day that we have set aside as “Friendship Sunday.” In honor of this occasion I would like to speak to you for a few moments on “The Value of Friendship.” If you have your Bibles I would invite you to turn to Ecclesiastes 4:9. If you don’t have a Bible this morning I would invite you to read along in just a moment on the overhead screen.
Charles Swindoll has made the observation that,“ The neighborhood bar is possibly the best counterfeit that there is to the fellowship Christ wants us to give his church. It’s an imitation, dispensing liquor instead of grace, escape rather than reality – but it is a permissive, accepting and inclusive fellowship. It is unshockable. It is democratic. You can tell people secrets, and they usually don’t tell others or even want to. The bar flourishes not because most people are alcoholics, but because God has put into the human heart the desire to know and be known, to love and be loved, and so many seek a counterfeit at the price of a few beers.” [Charles Swindoll. Koinina ???l]
Perhaps there is no better example of this than the television Sitcom “Cheers.” The theme song says, “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came; You want to be where you can see, Our troubles are all the same; You want to be where everybody knows your name!” Isn’t it sad that was written about a bar instead of the house of God.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 - The Value of a Friend
“Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. (10) For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. (11) Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? (12) Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.”
When we read these words of Solomon we tend to think in terms of marriage, and there certainly is that application. But I believe the author had a much wider application in mind. This is for people who are humans on this lonely earth who are wondering how to survive in our dog-eat-dog culture.
The writer of Ecclesiastes wants us to understand that Friendship is a good investment (v. 9). When the author says in verse nine, “Two are better than one, because they have good reward for their labor” the words “good reward” can also be translated “good return” for it means -dividends paid on a wise investment. The very best investment you will ever make in life will not be a financial one, but rather the investment made in relationships. We will get the best return on that investment over any other investment that we will ever make. As we go through life there are two kinds of things we can give our lives to. Some people try to accumulate possessions. They are constantly trying to get more or better stuff. It is attributed to the late Malcolm Forbes to have said, “He who dies with most toys wins.” However, since he has died, he knows that not to be true. If we spend all our lives trying to accumulate more and more possessions, we will never truly be happy and fulfilled. On the other hand we can decide to focus on building relationships, trying to make friends and to be a friend. The first half of Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly…”
Now I want us to turn our attention for the next few moments to four characteristics of a real friend.
1. A Real Friend Helps You When You’re Down. (v.10) “For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.”
Now you may have a lot of people in your life you could call acquaintances. But you may only have a very few that you could term “real friends.”
Some one has suggested that we have been successful in life if we have enough close friends to act as pall bearers at our funeral.
You may wonder, “How can I tell the difference between acquaintances and friends.” That’s easy, just get in trouble, the people that are still around are your real friends, and there may not be as many left as you would have thought.
A friend is the kind of person if you call them at 2:00 in the morning and tell them you need them. They don’t ask, “So what’s the problem” and then decide whether or not to come. They simply ask, “Where are you?” as they are getting dressed. That’s a friend. How many people do you have like that in your life? The writer of Proverbs (17:17) says, “A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.”