Summary: Solomon and David both remind us that one of the best investments we will ever make in life is an investment in people…making friends. This message helps us learn how to do that.

“Why Can’t We Be Friends?”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and Proverbs 13:20

One of the most popular topics in song writing today has been the subject of friendship. The Beatles sang I get by with a little help from my friends. James Taylor and Carole King sang a song titled “You’ve got a friend.” The words read….

Ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend, when people can be so cold, they’ll hurt you and desert you, and take your should if you let them, Oh but don’t you let them. You just call out my name and you know wherever you are, I’ll come running to see you again. Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you have to do is call. And I’ll be there…you’ve got as friend.

Solomon and David both remind us that one of the best investments we will ever make in life is an investment in people…making friends. When he says two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor-the word reward can also be translated return. It means that these dividends that are paid to you when you and I invest in a friendship. As we go through life there are two kinds of things we can give out lives to. (1) We can try to accumulate more and more stuff or (2) we can give our lives, invest our lives in people. Malcolm Forbes said, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” Forbes has died since that statement so his thoughts have likely changed. If we spend all of our life trying to get more and more we will never find fulfillment. We will never find happiness in things. So this is a definite area where you and I need some guardrails.

It’s unfortunate that one of the things we often hear is this: “I don’t have very many friends.” Maybe you have said that before. Or we may say you know I’m hurt-I thought they were my friend-I can’t believe they did that to me.

Last week we said that a guardrail is a system designed to keep vehicles from straying into dangerous areas or areas that are off limits. That’s what a guardrail does. They are placed on bridges, in a median and at places where there is a sudden change in the road. We all need them. But here is the definition that I want us to use because these messages are not really about highways, they are about life.

A guardrail is a standard of behavior that becomes a matter of conscience. If they are in place life will run much smoother but if we don’t have them, life can takes us into some dangerous situations. In fact your greatest regret financially, in relationships, your health-anything can become your greatest regret if you don’t have these guardrails in place.

Today I want us to talk about one specific area. I want to talk about friendship. At some point in life all of us find ourselves close to people, those we work with, those we go to school with, those we socialize with-we find that spending time with people whose lives are moving in the opposite direction that we are. And that’s a very dangerous place to be.

Now this tension of moving in the opposite direction, of being too close to the wrong people, this began for us in childhood. If your parents disciplined you by giving you boundaries then you know how this worked. Your parents would often become very concerned about the people you were running around with. They might even move you out of the neighborhood, or have you change schools. Parents will say you can’t go to his house; you can’t spend the night there. And we’re like but why? It’s great over there. Their parents are never home. We can do whatever we want to. Why not? And your parents are like; you just answered your own question.

Now your parents were not bad people when they did that-your parents understood a very important principle. Here it is. Your friends will ultimately determine the direction and quality of your life. Here’s how that works the things that makes friendship so great is the same thing that makes it so dangerous. When I’m with a friend, I drop my guard. I’m just going to be myself. When I’m with people who accept me and when you are with people who accept you, then we become very open to their influence in our lives. Huge principle here. Write it down. Acceptance leads to influence. We close down around rejection. We open up around acceptance. That’s what makes friendship so great—that’s also what makes it so dangerous. Don’t raise your hand but I would guess that the first cigarette you ever smoked or the first drink you ever took was with a friend. It was for both cases.

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