1. Bad company corrupts good morals.
1 Cor. 15:33. Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
2. Friends affect us for better or for worse.
Prov. 13:20. He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.
3. A true friend favors us by a kind rebuke when it is needed.
Prov. 28:23. He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward Than he who flatters with the tongue.
4. Stay away from a foolish man.
Prov. 14:7. Go from the presence of a foolish man, When you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge.
5. Don’t make friends with a hot-tempered man.
Prov. 22:24. Make no friendship with an angry man, And with a furious man do not go.
6. A true friend is one who may hurt you at times for your good.
Prov. 27:6. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
7. A godly friend can be of great help.
Prov. 27:9. Ointment and perfume delight the heart, And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.
8. Jonathan and David had an ideal friendship.
1 Sam. 20.
1 Sam. 20:17. Now Jonathan again caused David to vow, because he loved him; for he loved him as he loved his own soul.
1 Sam. 23:16. Then Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God.
9. Friendship with the world is hatred toward God.
James 4:4. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
1 John 2:15–17. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
Iron Sharpening Iron
by June Hunt
“So long as we love we serve. No man is useless while he is a friend.”
—Robert Louis Stevenson
A. What Is a Friend?
• A friend is a person united to another by feelings of affection, loyal support and social interaction.
• The word friend comes from the Old English word freond, which means “friend, lover, relative” and freogan, which means “to love.”
• The Greek word for “friend” is philos, which is a term of endearment.
— Philadelphia means “brotherly love.”
— Philanthropy means “the love for man, benevolence.”
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
B. What Is a Companion?
• A companion is a person who associates with and shares in what another is doing.
• One Greek word meaning companion is hetairos.
• A companion is a person associated with another by …
— having a common interest … “companions of thieves”
“Your rulers are rebels, companions of thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts.” (Isaiah 1:23)
— having a common experience … “companion in suffering”
“I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” (Revelation 1:9)
— having a common leader … “Judas, a disciple”
“Jesus replied, ‘Friend, do what you came for.’ ” (Matthew 26:50)
(In this instance, hetairos is translated “friend” but means “companion.”)
• Companion is a term of association, not necessarily friendship.
“My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away.” (Psalm 38:11)
C. What Is Friendship?
• A friendship is a reciprocal relationship of liking and loving between two people.
• A friendship is a mutual emotion based on liking—phileo love. The Greek word phileo means “joy of being together, tender affection.”
• A mature friendship also includes agape love. The Greek word agape means “a commitment to seek the highest good of another” (even when that one has characteristics you don’t like).
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.”
Q “Was I wrong to report my friend for being on drugs and running the risk of hurting his own child? He refuses to have anything to do with me now and I really miss him.”
A No, out of concern for both your friend and his child, you were not wrong to report your friend. To the contrary, you were right in seeking to protect him from himself and to protect his child from possible injury.
Obviously, your friend needs help. Helping a friend who puts others at risk means holding your friend accountable. Sometimes we are often led by God to do something that causes our loved ones to suffer a little now so that they won’t suffer a lot later. Your decision was right because:
• You tried to save your friend from doing something that could possibly harm his relationship with his son for the rest of his life.
• You stepped in and spared him from doing something he could regret forever.
• Your action was that of a true friend—doing what is in the best interest of another regardless of how that person responds. Pray that, in time, God will use your intervention to open the eyes of your friend and to serve as a catalyst for him to change.
“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” (Proverbs 27:5–6)
II. Characteristics of Friendships
A. Levels of Friendships
• Occasional contact
• Common interests and activities
• Some knowledge of accomplishments, abilities and character qualities
• Concern for personal problems
• Guarded emotions
• No accountability
“I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.”
(3 John 14)
• Regular contact
• Shared interests and activities
• Sensitivity to likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses
• Personal comfort during trials and sorrows
• Willingness to become vulnerable
• Limited accountability
“Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?”
• Commitment of quality time to be together
• Mutual values and life goals
• Freedom to help correct character flaws
• Personal involvement in defending reputation
• Risk of transparency
• Mutual commitment with sacrificial love
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
B. Friendships of Jesus
|• Casual Friendships
|tax collector and other sinners
|• Close Friendships
|Eight of the 12 apostles (not Judas Iscariot)
|John 15:15 (Judas not present)
|• Committed Friendships
“After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.”
III. Causes of failed friendships
|having a poor self-image
|absorbed with one’s own needs and desires
|shy, uncomfortable with attention of others
|not honest about facts and feelings
|always justifying actions
|focusing on personal sorrow
|controlling and manipulative
|not making quality time to nurture friendships
“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
B. Root Cause
“I wish I had a friend who gave me a feeling of belonging and made me feel significant.”
“I need a friend who will give me unconditional love without wanting to change me.”
God is the only Friend whose love is always unconditional. Because He loves me, He plans to change me … sometimes through my friends.
Instead of focusing on getting friendship, I will focus on giving it. My joy and significance will be found in serving and befriending others as an extension of the Lord’s love.
“If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:10–12)
IV. Steps to Solution
A. Key Verse to Memorize
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
B. Key Passage to Read and Reread
Philippians chapter 2:1–10
“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”
C. How to Fan the Flame of Friendship
Do … Recognize that you need wise friends.
“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
Do … Look for others in need of a friend.
“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)
Do … Ask God to bring a faithful friend into your life.
“If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14)
Do … Be approachable by smiling at others.
“A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:13)
Do … Speak to others by name. (Jesus speaks to you by name.)
“The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (John 10:3)
Do … Listen attentively to others.
“[There is] a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:7)
Do … Give genuine compliments and encouragement.
“The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.” (Proverbs 16:21)
Do … Ask open-ended questions.
• “What do you like most about your job?”
• “Who has been the best influence in your life?”
• “What would you change about your childhood?”
“The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” (Proverbs 20:5)
Do … Help others verbalize their feelings.
• “I sense that you are hurting.”
• “Has something difficult happened in your life?”
• “How do you feel about what has happened?”
• “I want you to know that I care.”
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.” (Proverbs 27:9)
Do … Look for the kernel of truth in your friend’s criticism.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
|“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
Don’t wait for others to reach out to you.
“God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
Don’t share just facts … share your feelings.
• “Recently, I have had trouble with.…”
“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” (Psalm 51:6)
Don’t expect everyone to like you.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (Proverbs 15:18)
Don’t expect your friends’ friends to be your friends.
“My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
Don’t focus on your interests, but ask about the interests of others.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
Don’t be quick to voice your own opinions.
“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” (Proverbs 18:2)
Don’t harbor unforgiveness over offenses.
“He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” (Proverbs 17:9)
Don’t share negative information about others.
“A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.” (Proverbs 16:28)
Don’t look to a friend to meet your needs for love, for significance and for security.
“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9)
Don’t let your friend take the place that God alone should have.
“You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)
D. Scriptural Portrait of Faithful Friends
1 Samuel chapters 18–20; 23
Jonathan and David
|Jonathan became one in spirit with David.
|• Sacrificial Love
|Jonathan loved David as he loved himself.
|Jonathan made a friendship covenant with David.
|Jonathan gave David his tunic, sword, bow and belt.
|Jonathan warned David of his father’s desire to kill him.
|Jonathan spoke well of David to his father.
|Jonathan told David not to fear for his life.
|Jonathan told David he would do whatever David wanted him to do.
|Jonathan told David he could trust him to warn him.
|Jonathan and David shared oaths to protect each other’s families.
|Jonathan made the Lord witness to all he did for David.
|Jonathan was grieved at his father’s treatment of David.
|• Emotional vulnerability
|Jonathan and David kissed each other and wept together.
|• Spiritual strengthening
|Jonathan encouraged David to lean on God for strength.
|• Refusing rivalry
|Jonathan refused to compete with David for the throne, although he was the son of the king.
One great failure in friendship is letting a friend lean on us too long. The greatest gift we can give is fortifying our friend to lean on the Rock—our Redeemer—our only firm Foundation.
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Conway, Jim. Making Real Friends in a Phony World. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989.
Griffin, Em. Making Friends (& Making Them Count). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1987.
Hunt, June. Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.
Hunt, June. How to Forgive … When You Don’t Feel Like It. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.
Hunt, June. How to Handle Your Emotions. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.
Hunt, June. Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.
Inrig, Gary. Quality Friendship. Chicago: Moody, 1981.
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Parrott, Les, III, and Leslie Parrott. A Good Friend: 10 Traits for Enduring Ties. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Vine, 1998.
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