4 Keys to Quality Friendships

July 23, 2005

We’re going to be taking the next 4 weeks to do a mini-series on “Key Elements to Building Quality Friendships”
Week 1: John 15 – 4 Keys to Quality Friendships
Week 2:  Proverbs – Wisdom for Quality Friendships
Week 3:  Jonathan & David – An OT Example of a Quality Friendship
Week 4:  Paul & Barnabus – A NT Example of a Quality Friendship
Purpose: To give glory to God in our friendships with each other
- God can be glorified (given the right opinion) because God is a relational being and He created us in His image and likeness – i.e. with the capacity to establish and develop a relationship with Him and with others
Input: In what ways can God be glorified in our friendships?  Or NOT glorified in our friendships?
[various answers]
 the love we show each other represents the love of God
 the failure to solve problems does not give the right opinion of the Prince of Peace
Goal: To strengthen our discipleship ministry by being the kind of friend God describes
[mention how our ABFs are key assimilation and discipleship tool – the foundation of our ABFs are contained the 3 key words:
• Adult—our focus on ministry in our the adults in our church and community
• Bible – the study of God’s Word; growing in our understand and application
• Fellowship – the Greek word, koinwni,a (koinonia – pronounced “coin-no-knee-ah”) = a  close mutual relationship; participation, sharing in; partnership;  contribution  
3.  Q: Do you agree or disagree with the statement:
“People aren’t necessarily looking for a friendly church, they are looking for friends”
- I agree with it to a point – because good friends make for a friendly church
- because we are relational beings by nature, it natural (part of God’s design) to want to build friendships and develop those friendships
- a person who is not working on that area in his/her life is probably allowing the effects of the curse of sin to interfere with that specific aspect of his/her life
- that’s not to say that a person who is not the friendliest person in the world is ‘sinning’ – but it can become sinful because building relationships with others is primarily a HEART ISSUE
> our friendships/relationships grow out of our love for God (1st greatest commandment) and our love for people (2nd greatest commandment)
Point: * We have to be careful that we are not loving everyone in general and loving no one in particular.
- or loving a few people in particular but not willing to get outside our comfort zone and develop new relationships
4.  I want to begin our study in a key passage on Friendships (in the context of spiritual growth)
[Turn to John 15 – explain the context:
- Jesus is meeting with the disciples in the Upper Room the night of His betrayal – just prior to going to the cross and dying for us! (John 13)
- He’s washed their feet – had the interchange with Peter about his denial (John 13)
- He’s offered them comfort (John 14:1-6) and explained the role of the Holy Spirit (John 14)
5. In John 15, Jesus teaches them (us) about 3 different relationships:
#1: Our Relationship to Him (the Vine) – John 15:1-11
- He’s teaching them that He is the VINE and we are the branches (John 15)
> i.e. what we do has to flow out of our relationship with Him
> John 15:5 “without Me, you can do nothing.”
#2: Our Relationship to Each Other – John 15:12-17 [we’re focusing on this section]
#3:  Our Relationship to the World – John 15:18-25
[READ John 15:12-17)

- Jesus gives us 4 Key Ingredients to Quality Friendships
1.  A Love for Others – v. 12
2.  A Sacrificial Life – v. 13
3.  Obedience to the Word – v. 14
4.  Honest Communication – v. 16-17


1.  A Love for Others – v. 12


- the word that Jesus uses here is the strongest love possible: God’s kind of love (agapa)
Love = (primarily of Christian love); show or prove one's love; long for,  desire, place first in one's affections  
- the Greek is actually more specific – present active – which could be translated: This is my commandment that you be continuously loving each other . . .
- given the context of this passage (along with others like Gal. 5:22 – the fruit of the Spirit) – it’s obvious that we can’t do that if we don’t have a right relationship with Jesus (the Vine)
- our love for people flows out of our love for God – if we don’t love God much, we’re probably not going to love people much
- and if we love God a lot, it’s going to show up in the way we love each other
Input: What does ‘loving each other’ look like in the following situations:
 Sunday mornings: greeting each other, meeting NEW people
* inviting others to ABFs, offer to sit with them in the worship service
 Weekends: having people over to your house or DOING something with them – talk about showing hospitality to one another
 Trials: praying for each other, encouraging each other
 Problems (conflicts): go to the Bible, do the right thing, get help, counsel
 Good Times (blessings): rejoice, be happy for them, thank the Lord
 Physical/Spiritual Needs: wash their feed (John 13), tell them the truth – Jesus did!
- this is not an area where you can ‘bluff’ – people know if you really care, if you really love them
- you might get away with a lot of things, but you can’t really fake godly love – because godly love demonstrates itself
- sometimes in the following way . . .


2.  A Sacrificial Life – v. 13


- when Jesus talked about ‘laying down your life’ – that wasn’t just a good idea – remember the CONTEXT of this statement . . . He was about to be crucified!
- a real friend sacrifices for those he/she loves . . but it’s not just any sacrifice (those would include time, food, clothing, financial help, etc.)
- this is the ultimate sacrifice:  Your LIFE – the body you posses represents the One in Whose image you are made
- just as Jesus was willing to sacrifice His life, a real friend will be willing to DIE for his friends!
Q: Who are you willing to die for?  Who do you  know that would be willing to die for you?
- there is a lesion to be learned from the life of Christ:
You’ll probably never lay down your life for someone if you’re not willing to wash their dirty feet!
- remember, John 13 is the context of John 15 and what follows (the betrayal, trial, crucifixion)
- Jesus had been showing love to these guys and others for the past 3 YEARS – feeding them, teaching them, etc.
- now it’s time for the big test: Who is going to die for who?
• 1 John 3:16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
- thank for Lord for progressive sanctification – we can grow in this area of being willing to sacrifice our life for our friends!


3.  Obedience to the Word – v. 14


- Jesus isn’t saying here that He is their friend only if they obey him - -the focus of the statement in on the disciples –
- it’s not:  I’m YOUR friend IF YOU OBEY ME – it more: YOU are My friend, if . . .  – i.e. we demonstrate OUR friendship to Christ by our obedience to Him
> it ‘s when we are willing to follow His commandments (sometimes when it’s hard) that we demonstrate our real loyalty to Christ!
- we need to obey God’s word, even in the tough times – that’s the real test – true friendship is based on each person’s obedience to the Word (a standard of right/wrong – if not, then every man does that which is right in his own eyes)
* Sometimes friends will fail us – just like the disciples failed Jesus
- think about this passage:
• Psalm 41:9 Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.
- for Jesus, that was Judas – sometimes an apparent friend can turn out to be a Judas who ‘lifts up his heel against’ you
Even a devoted friend may fail us when we need him most. Peter, James, and John went to sleep in the Garden when they should have been praying; and Peter even denied the Lord three times. Our friendship to each other and to the Lord is not perfect, but His friendship to us is perfect. 
Point: It’s our common source of truth that establishes and strengthens our friendships!
- think about how hard it is to develop a relationship with a person who had no regard for the Bible
- in a sense, you can be a friend to a lost person (Jesus was a ‘friend of sinners’) – but Jesus didn’t have unbelievers as His disciples – it was men who put their faith in Him and followed Him


4.  Honest Communication – v. 16-17


- Jesus practiced full disclosure with His friends – He told them all they needed to know about Him, His purpose, goals, and the future!
- He spoke the truth, and He spoke to lovingly
- He communicated with them as FRIENDS, not as SERVANTS
However, we must not interpret this word friend in a limited way, because the Greek word means “a friend at court.” It describes that “inner circle” around a king or emperor. (In John 3:29, it refers to the “best man”, at a wedding.) The “friends of the king” would be close to him and know his secrets, but they would also be subject to him and have to obey his commands. There is thus no conflict between being a friend and being a servant. 
- a good example of this is Abraham – the man’s whose life we will be studying this fall – “An Adventure of Faith”
- in Gen. 18 – Abraham and the Lord are communicating – Abraham is doing more listening than talking (which is a good lesson in and of itself)
- then the Lord says:
• Genesis 18:17 The LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do,
- Wiersbe went on to say:
It is this kind of a relationship that Jesus described when He called His disciples “friends.” It was certainly a relationship of love, both for Him and for each other. The “friends of the King” could not compete with each other for attention or promotion. They were a part of the “inner circle,” not to promote themselves, but to serve their King. What a rebuke this must have been to the selfish disciples who often argued over who was the greatest! 
Point: * Good friends know what to share and when to share it.
- Jesus said to His disciples in the next chapter:
• John 16:12 "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”
* We need to ask some serious questions:
 What kind of friends do you have? 
 Are you strengthening the friendships you have?
 Are you looking for ways to develop new friendship with others God brings into our church?
 In what ways do you need to change in the ways we’ve studied from this passage?
How do you need to grow in your love?
How do you need to grow in your sacrifice
How do you need to grow in your obedience to the Word?
How do you need to grow in your communication?


Key Elements to Quality Friendships
4 Keys to a Quality Friendship
John 15:12-17

Introduction:
Purpose: To give glory to God in our friendships with each other
Input: In what ways can God be glorified in our friendships?  Or NOT glorified in our friendships?

Goal: To strengthen our discipleship ministry by being the kind of friend God describes

Q: Do you agree or disagree with the statement:
“People aren’t necessarily looking for a friendly church, they are looking for friends”


* We have to be careful that we are not loving everyone in _____________ and loving no one in _____________.

1.  A Love for Others – v. 12
Love = (primarily of Christian love); show or prove one's love; long for, desire, place first in one's affections  
Translation:  This is my commandment that you be continuously loving each other . . .
Input: What does ‘loving each other’ look like in the following situations?
 Sunday mornings:
 Weekends:
 Trials:
 Problems (conflicts):
 Good Times (blessings):
 Physical/Spiritual Needs:

2.  A Sacrificial Life – v. 13
Q: Who are you willing to die for?  Who do you know that would be willing to die for you?

3.  Obedience to the Word – v. 14
* Sometimes friends will fail us – just like the disciples failed Jesus

Even a devoted friend may fail us when we need him most. Peter, James, and John went to sleep in the Garden when they should have been praying; and Peter even denied the Lord three times. Our friendship to each other and to the Lord is not perfect, but His friendship to us is perfect. Wiersbe
4.  Honest Communication – v. 16-17
However, we must not interpret this word friend in a limited way, because the Greek word means “a friend at court.” It describes that “inner circle” around a king or emperor. (In John 3:29, it refers to the “best man”, at a wedding.) The “friends of the king” would be close to him and know his secrets, but they would also be subject to him and have to obey his commands. There is thus no conflict between being a friend and being a servant. Wiersbe


It is this kind of a relationship that Jesus described when He called His disciples “friends.” It was certainly a relationship of love, both for Him and for each other. The “friends of the King” could not compete with each other for attention or promotion. They were a part of the “inner circle,” not to promote themselves, but to serve their King. What a rebuke this must have been to the selfish disciples who often argued over who was the greatest! Wiersbe

* Good friends know ______________________ and ________________________.

* We need to ask some serious questions:
 What kind of friends do you have? 
 Are you strengthening the friendships you have?
 Are you looking for ways to develop new friendship with others God brings into our church?
 In what ways do you need to change in the ways we’ve studied from this passage?



Key Elements to Quality Friendships
4 Keys to a Quality Friendship
John 15:12-17
Introduction:
Week 1: John 15 – 4 Keys to Quality Friendships
Week 2:  Proverbs – Wisdom for Quality Friendships
Week 3:  Jonathan & David – An OT Example of a Quality Friendship
Week 4:  Paul & Barnabus – A NT Example of a Quality Friendship
Purpose: To give glory to God in our friendships with each other
Input: In what ways can God be glorified in our friendships?  Or NOT glorified in our friendships?
Goal: To strengthen our discipleship ministry by being the kind of friend God describes
Q: Do you agree or disagree with the statement:
“People aren’t necessarily looking for a friendly church, they are looking for friends”
* We have to be careful that we are not loving everyone in general and loving no one in particular.
1.  A Love for Others – v. 12
Love = (primarily of Christian love); show or prove one's love; long for, desire, place first in one's affections  
This is my commandment that you be continuously loving each other . . .
Input: What does ‘loving each other’ look like in the following situations:
 Sunday mornings:
 Weekends:
 Trials:
 Problems (conflicts):
 Good Times (blessings):
 Physical/Spiritual Needs:
2.  A Sacrificial Life – v. 13
Q: Who are you willing to die for?  Who do you  know that would be willing to die for you?
• 1 John 3:16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.


3.  Obedience to the Word – v. 14


* Sometimes friends will fail us – just like the disciples failed Jesus
• Psalm 41:9 Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.
Even a devoted friend may fail us when we need him most. Peter, James, and John went to sleep in the Garden when they should have been praying; and Peter even denied the Lord three times. Our friendship to each other and to the Lord is not perfect, but His friendship to us is perfect. Wiersbe


4.  Honest Communication – v. 16-17


Wiersbe quote
• Genesis 18:17 The LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do,
Wiersbe quote
* Good friends know what to share and when to share it.
• John 16:12 "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”
* We need to ask some serious questions:
 What kind of friends do you have? 
 Are you strengthening the friendships you have?
 Are you looking for ways to develop new friendship with others God brings into our church?
 In what ways do you need to change in the ways we’ve studied from this passage?