Today on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. True friendship is hard. Inevitably, if you're going to get close to them, they're going to disappoint you. That is going to happen with any human being that you choose to be friends with.
And unless you've learned to treat other people graciously, you'll never be able to have good friends. The way that that begins is by beginning to treat others as you have been treated by Jesus. Welcome back to another week of Christ-centered, biblically-based practical teaching here on Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D.
Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovich. Today, we conclude our study on relationships called From the Beginning. With the rise of social media, friending someone has become as easy as clicking a button. So if someone were to look at your Facebook or Twitter profile, it might seem like you have hundreds or even thousands of friends. But the fact is, many of us are feeling lonelier and more disconnected than ever before.
How can that be? Today, pastor J.D. Greer shares timeless biblical wisdom on how to form real, deep, and lifelong friendships.
The message is called Why Friendship is So Important. The Proverbs is written by the wisest man to ever live, Solomon. And Solomon says this in Proverbs 13 20, He that walks with wise men will be wise, but a companion of fools will be destroyed.
According to that verse, listen, what one factor, one factor determines how your life is going to turn out. The quality of the people that you choose to walk with in life. Our friends really would, you could kind of classify them in three concentric circles. You know what concentric circles are? Intimacy, influence, and care. The circle of intimacy are the three or four people that are the closest to you.
You just don't have space for more people than that, no matter how nice you are, you're not going to have more than three or four in that circle of intimacy. The next circle, the circle of influence, are people that influence you and you influence them. The circle outside of that is the circle of care, and these are people that you spend time with, you talk to, you care about, you pray for.
What really Proverbs 13 20 is saying is that the circle of intimacy ought to be people who have the same convictions and values that love God like you do because you're going to become just like them. I'll prove it to you from the animal kingdom. You know how fish travel in schools? You've seen the fish that like, you know, are all together and then they all go this way and all go that way.
It's just like, you know, how they communicate. They wanted to figure out what part of the brain made that happen. So they identified the part of the fish's brain that made it always want to be in schools. And then they took one of the fish, it's kind of cruel, and they performed a partial lobotomy and took out that part of the brain. So now this fish has no more compelling reason to stay with the herd or the school or whatever. And so they drop it back in. Sure enough, this fish leaves the school and just swims out by itself.
The researcher said, then the most unbelievable thing happened that we weren't expecting. And that is the entire school started to follow that one fish that is now partially lobotomized. And I read that and I thought that is a perfect explanation of what happens in our high schools, right? Because you get one kid who is like brainless, who establishes the fad.
Everybody's like, oh, let's do that over here, let's do this over here. Because God just designed us to stay together. And so you become like the people that are most around you. And what God is saying is, 2 Corinthians 6, don't be unequally yoked with an unbeliever. What that means is not that you don't have friends who are unbelievers, it just means that that closest circle of intimacy are people that you are going to become like because your friends are your future you. Which means that some of you, if you really want to make a decision about becoming something in the future, that decision changes that circle of intimacy.
That's what that means. That means some of you ought to move some of the circle of intimacy into the circle of influence. The circle of influence can be, you know, there's a lot of believers in there, there's going to be people that don't share your faith because, you know, you work with them, you go to school with them, they influence you, you influence them. The circle, some of you need to move them into the circle of care, which means you spend time with them, you're friends with them, but they're just not in those circles. If you understand that Proverbs 13 is saying, you understand how key and important these things are in your life, parents, listen, your kids are going to become like the five people that are the closest to them.
That is what they are going to become. You, if you love your kids and you care about their walk with God in the future, will make sure that you prioritize godly community in their lives. Your friends are your future you. Proverbs 12 26, Solomon says it this way, the righteous man is cautious. Cautious by the way in Hebrew means spies out. The wise man, the righteous man is very, he spies out who he's going to be friends with because he knows how important it is. I told you the book of Proverbs was written by Solomon. Jewish rabbis believe that a lot of what Solomon wrote was actually things that his daddy King David taught him, and what makes that interesting when it comes to the friendship passages in Proverbs is when you realize that King David's life can really be told as the story of three friendships he had. King David had three friends and I'm going to suggest to you that these three friends of David's represent type of friends that we all should have and are very important. The first friend is named Samuel and I'm going to call him the crown bestower.
The crown bestower. Samuel was a prophet that when David was a shepherd, God told Samuel David's supposed to be a king, and Samuel went to David and says I know you feel like you're just a shepherd and you feel like you're the least of your seven brothers, but God has appointed you to be king, and David and Samuel, to use a cliche, put a crown above David's head and helped encourage David to grow up into it. Do you have friends that do that for you? I do, and they've been some of the most influential people in my lives because they are friends who have seen what God was doing even when I couldn't see it. When I was discouraged, when I feel like I just really didn't have a great future, these friends said no, we see God's hand on your life.
We see these talents he's put in you. This is what God's called you to. Don't forfeit it with unbelief. Don't walk away.
Don't get distracted. Become what God wants you to become. You need a Samuel, a crown bestower, in your life because your identity, how you think about yourself, is always based on what the most important people in your life think about you.
You will become what they think you are. So you need Samuels who say, I see shepherd, but God says king. You say a kind of friend, Jonathan. Jonathan was, I'm going to call him the faithful companion. Jonathan was David's best friend when he was a teenager. Jonathan, follow this, was King Saul's son. King Saul was the current king. King Saul hated David because David was, you know, threatening to him.
Saul was jealous of him. Jonathan would end up risking his own life several times to warn David, to encourage him, to protect him. What's really remarkable about that is when you consider the fact that Jonathan was encouraging David into being king at the expense of Jonathan being king. Jonathan should have been the next king of Israel because he was Saul's son. But Jonathan knew that God had chosen David and Jonathan said, well, even though that's not good for me, this is what God has said and I'm going to help you become that even if it's at great personal cost to me. Do you have friends like that? Friends who don't treat you with jealousy, friends who are selfless. Listen to this verse about Jonathan.
I love this. First Samuel 23 18. Jonathan hears that David is discouraged.
And Jonathan, Saul's son, rose and went to David at Horesh, which was 30 miles away, by the way, and he strengthened David's hand in God. But you get annoyed by passive friends who won't like text you back. It just really ticks me off.
I only need like three or four. Friends that when I, you know, when I have any ban, they're on it. And these people are close to me. Jonathan is the opposite of a passive friend.
Jonathan gets in his version of a text message about David being discouraged and the dude walks 30 miles to answer the text message because he wants to encourage David. A faithful companion like Jonathan is the person who walks in when everybody else walks out. These are the friends who say, I'm not just going to pray for you. I'm going to pray with you because all the things you care about are the things I now care about. You need these kinds of friends.
My favorite place where Solomon talks about this is in another book that he wrote, the book of Ecclesiastes chapter four. Look at this. Two are better than one.
Why? Because if one falls, one can lift up his companion, but woe to him who is alone when he falls for he has no one to help him up. Again, two lie down together, they will keep warm.
What? But how can one be warm alone? Translation, when you lie down and life's cold, you need somebody to spoon with. That's what Solomon says. Proverbs 18 verse 24. A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
If you have your Hebrew Old Testament open, and I know that many of you do, you have just noticed that the word for sticks in that verse is the same Hebrew word for cleaves in Genesis chapter two when God says a man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. In other words, there are things about a friendship relationship that mimic even the loyalty and the faithfulness in a marriage relationship. There is a loyalty and friendship that rivals even marriage. You say, I want these kinds of friends. I want these kinds of friends. Well, we provide a vehicle for developing those kinds of relationships, and it's what we call small groups.
Small groups don't equal friendships, but small groups are at least the place where these things can begin to develop. Friend type number three is, we'll call him Nathan because that's his name, and then we'll also call him the loyal wounder, the loyal wounder. Later in David's life, if you know the story, he got into some pretty bad sin. He slept with his best friend's wife, and he tried to cover it up.
He tried to cover it up, and God sent Nathan who essentially puts his finger in his face and said, you have sinned against God, and it's destroying your life if you don't come clean about it. You need people in your life who put their finger in your face and say, you are making a stupid decision. Do you have those kinds of friends? How do you treat them when they say that to you? A lot of us get mad, right, and that terminates our friendship because it hurts.
It's embarrassing. It hurts. Here's how Proverbs would say it. Proverbs 27 says, faithful are the wounds of a friend. Perfused are the kisses of an enemy. I'm gonna tell you something. Kisses always feel better than wounds.
I don't care who's doing what. Kisses always feel better than wounds, and when your friend wounds you, it hurts. But if all you have around you is people who give you kisses, life is gonna feel good for a while, but then you're going to destroy yourself, which means you gotta deputize a few of your friends.
You gotta give them a hunting license and a weapon in your life. And you say, I need you to point out the blind spots in my life. And the definition of a blind spot is you don't know it's there. That's why we call it a blind spot. If you know it's there, it's called a weakness.
You got blind spots, which means you can't see them, but everybody else can see them. And you're the last person to know about some of these things, and you gotta have a friend who says you are destroying your family. You're destroying your career. You're destroying your walk with God. You're destroying your kids. For God's sake, stop it.
And if you don't have friends like this, if you surround yourself with people who give you kisses all the time, it feels good for a while, but it ends in destruction. David Pallas and the Christian counselor, things in a secret garden inevitably grow mutant. I don't care if you're 62 years old and you're a guy and this is just the way you, I'd like to go fishing and work in my car and I'm fine, that's when I'm happiest. Your life has grown mutant. It's mutant. And the sad thing is you can't even see it.
God can see it, but things in a secret garden, they always grow mutant because God does not design you to live that way. Those are the two reasons that friendship matters because you're made for it because it makes you. So you ought to follow Solomon's advice and spy out Proverbs 12 26, those friendships because of how important they are. You're listening to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer, and we'll return to our teaching in just a moment. This Christmas season, we want to take just a moment to thank you for being a part of all that God has done at J.D. Greer Ministries in 2022.
Because of your financial support and most importantly, your prayers, we have seen God multiply our efforts like only he can. To thank you for your generous year-end gift today, we'd like to send you our most popular resource, the 2023 Summit Life Planner. We've included a Bible reading plan to help you maintain that most important spiritual discipline this next year. And the scripture we're reading together aligns with the teaching you'll hear in this video. And the scripture we're reading together aligns with the teaching you'll hear here on Summit Life in 2023. Receive this planner as our thanks for your gift to the ministry right now.
So give us a call at 866-335-5220 or check it out at jdgreer.com. Now before I end this message and really in this whole series, I want to do what I've done every single week up to now. I want to show you how the power for these kinds of relationships, that's sort of the theme of this series, is that every horizontal relationship we have is preconditioned on the quality of our vertical relationship with Jesus. You see, Jesus is the best and the ultimate friend that we could ever have. When you think about it, Jesus is the combination of Samuel, Jonathan, and Nathan.
Jesus is Samuel because he spoke courage into our life and he held a crown up when we did not deserve it. He said, you're a sinner, but I'm going to change your name to Saint. You're dead. I'm going to declare you to be alive. You are not my people, but I'm going to declare that you are my people. Your name was wrath. Your name was failure. Your name was judgment.
I'm going to start calling you mercy, new creation, more than a conqueror and useful for my service. And he declared what God wanted to do in us before God had even started it. And he held a crown up above our heads and he grew us into it. Jesus is Jonathan.
He served us at great personal cost to himself. When David was in need, Jonathan walked 30 miles to Haresh to meet his need. Jesus walked more than 30 miles. He crossed the gap between deity and humanity. Jonathan gave up his right to the palace to help David get in. Jesus did more than give up his right to it. He shed his blood so that we could be included in the palace. Jesus, like Jonathan, would make our cause his cause. He took our sins and our sorrows and he made them his very own.
What we felt, he felt. I was talking with my kids the other night in our family devotions about John chapter 11, where Jesus weeps at the tomb of Lazarus. Lazarus dies.
Jesus shows up at the tomb. Mary is weeping. And Jesus, John 11, 35, shortest verse in the Bible, Jesus starts weeping too.
I asked my kids. I was like, no, why doesn't that, it doesn't make sense to me, at least at first. Why Jesus would start crying there? Because Jesus knows he's about to raise Lazarus from the dead. In like less than three minutes, Lazarus is going to be alive. If I had been Jesus, what I would do is I would be like, Mary, quit crying. I'm going to raise him from the dead, dry it up, you know, watch this happen.
That's what I would do, which is why I'm not Jesus. But what Jesus does is he begins to, why would he weep if he knows he's about to raise Lazarus from the dead? Because that's what friends do.
Friends can't watch you go through emotion and not go through the same emotion. What that means is that when you walk through your divorce, when you walk through your betrayal, it means when you walk through your bereavement, when you were in pain, when you got stabbed in the back, he just went in heaven saying, no, shut up, I'll fix it. He was there in that moment weeping with you. What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege now to carry everything to God in prayer. Jesus is Nathan. He loved us enough to confront us. He could have just ignored us and then annihilated us, but instead he came to us and he told us the truth and he wouldn't shut up, even when we despised him and reviled him and murdered him. Jesus is the best friend that he describes in John 15. He is the friend who always let us in. He's the one who never let us down.
He said, I will give up my life and I'll literally go to hell and back before I will let you down. That friendship with Jesus enables us to become the right kind of friends because it does two things for us. Friendship with Jesus, first of all, gives us the ability to be vulnerable. You know the reason you can't really open up and let people in in your life is because you're afraid that when they see the secret parts of you, they'll either yawn or walk away. Isn't that the fear? They'll be like, hey, you look pretty awesome in the outside, but now that I get to know you in the inside, you're actually kind of boring and predictable. And then also I just see some stuff that's really screwed up and I don't have room in my life for screwed up people.
So you're afraid they're going to yawn or walk away. What friendship with Jesus does is it gives you safety. And it's found in John 15, 16, my favorite verse in that whole passage. Jesus said, you didn't choose me.
I chose you. You know what Jesus was telling them there? He wasn't saying, hey dudes, I'm a Calvinist. That wasn't his main point. His main point was when I chose you, you were nothing. I didn't choose you because you were the popular kids.
It wasn't even, listen, follow this. It wasn't even a Disney-esque kind of choosing. You know, the thing with Disney movies is you got a princess who was really rough on the outside, but she's beautiful on the inside. And we see through the rough exterior because on the inside she's beautiful.
And that's the opposite of Jesus's choosing. Jesus was like, I looked through the rough exterior on the outside and I found even rougher stuff on the inside. The prettiest part of you is the outside.
The inside is really screwed up. You're no Cinderella on the inside or outside. In fact, you're like a whitewashed tomb.
The best part of a tomb is the outside because what's on the inside is rot and decay. And I chose you anyway, which means there's nothing I'm going to discover now that's actually going to surprise me. And what happens is when I feel safe with Jesus, suddenly I feel safe with you because I know that when you discover that broken part of my life, there's somebody more important to you than who's already discovered it. And he's already declared my acceptance and I feel safe with him.
And he's already declared that he's going to change it. So I can be open enough to let you see the broken parts of me, because I'm not afraid of you discovering something he hasn't already discovered in his promise to change. And what happens when that happens is you suddenly develop the ability to be friends because true friendships, true friendships are formed around shared weaknesses.
Here's what I've learned. You can impress people with your strengths. You can only connect with them over weaknesses. So true friendship is connecting over weaknesses. And some of you don't have the ability to be friends because you've never learned to be vulnerable enough to actually let people into your weaknesses.
Here's the other thing. Friendship with Jesus teaches you to be gracious. Here's the other thing I've learned about friendship after having a number of good friends over the years. True friendship is hard. Light friendship is easy. Light friendship is, hey, I like you. You make me laugh.
Let's hang out. But what happens is inevitably, if you're going to go the distance with somebody, if you're going to get close to them, they're going to disappoint you. They're going to be self-centered.
They're going to be inflexible. They're going to, you're going to look at them and you're going to say, how can you be so blind to what I need because you're so self-centered to what you need? How can you let me down this way?
What's wrong with you? That is going to happen with any human being that you choose to be friends with. And unless you've learned to treat other people graciously, you'll never be able to have good friends. The way that that begins is by beginning to treat others as you have been treated by Jesus, which is why ultimately all this comes back to a vertical relationship that gives you the capacity to have these horizontal relationships.
So that's the question that I will end, not just this message, but this whole series on. Are you a friend of Jesus? Do you have friendship with Jesus? I'm not asking if you're religious. A lot of you are very religious. Are you a friend of Jesus? Because Jesus, yes, he's the Lord and you submit to him, but Jesus came in, not just, not just to get you to obey, he came in to share his life with you.
I'll give you a couple of tests. Here's how you know if Jesus is your friend. How do you pray? If Jesus is your friend, prayer is not a duty.
Prayer is your natural response when something goes wrong. Why? Because you know that he's sharing your life with you.
Why? Because you know that he shares, he weeps with you in it and he's the first place you want to go. What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege now to carry everything to God in prayer. Listen, if you are not the kind of person who daily seeks to be with God, then you probably have never really experienced the friendship of Jesus.
Here's the other thing that changes. Your attitude towards sin starts to change. Before you know Jesus as a friend, God is like this ruler that you're trying to avoid.
Like, oh, you know, I don't want you to crush me for my bad stuff. But when Jesus becomes a friend, you begin to want to not sin against him. You know, when Judas betrayed Jesus, Jesus looked at him and he said, friend. In other words, if you were an enemy, I would get this, but you're a friend and you betray me. When I sin against Jesus, it's like I hear his voice saying, I would get this if you were an enemy, but I'm a friend who let you in and I never let you down. And suddenly I don't want to let down the one who has never let me down. You see, the judgment of God can curb your behavior, but the friendship of Jesus will change your heart.
And if you want to be transformed from the heart, which is what God wants for you and me, it won't come by the demands of the law. It's going to come by the friendship of Jesus. So are you friends with Jesus? Have you ever received him as a friend? It's a gift that he offers to you.
And it's the foundation of everything else. Do you know him as friend? Have you received him as friend? It just means you acknowledge that he's the Lord. You receive his love and his gift of salvation.
You can do that through a simple prayer. Jesus, I surrender and I receive. Greater love is no man than this, than he would lay down his life for you. He loves you. He loves you because he chose you as friend.
He laid down his life for you because he wanted you eternally as friend. Just receive it. If you have received it, you know that, then in this moment, I would invite you just to re-embrace the beautiful friendship of Jesus. Lord Jesus, what a friend we have in you. Make it new, make it real, so that prayer becomes a privilege, so that burdens become light, so that sin becomes horrific, so that the mission becomes passion.
We ask that God, in Jesus' name. In the event that you missed any of the previous messages, you can hear them all at JDCreer.com. As we approach the end of the year, your gift is needed now more than ever. And when you support this ministry and the mission to spread the gospel to those in your neighborhood and across the nation, you join with countless others, helping us continue to bring these engaging broadcasts to the radio and to the web.
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Or give it online at JDCreer.com. I'm Molly Vidovitch. Thank you for joining us today. And tomorrow Pastor JD shows us how we should approach the wonderful counselor who brings light to our darkness. Listen Tuesday to Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
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