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Why Friendship Is so Important

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
December 16, 2022 9:00 am

Why Friendship Is so Important

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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December 16, 2022 9:00 am

Friendships require an incredible amount of effort and vulnerability to maintain. Many people decide it’s not worth the effort. But deep, intimate friendships are essential for our happiness and holiness.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Progress is written by the wisest man to ever live, Solomon, and Solomon says this, he that walks with wise men will be wise, but a companion of fools will be destroyed. According to that verse, one factor determines how your life is going to turn out, the quality of the people that you choose to walk with in life. Welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian, J.D. Greer.

As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. You know, when you're in elementary school, making friends is usually pretty easy. But as you get older, friendships become trickier. They often require much more effort and deeper vulnerability.

Many decide it's just not worth the effort and are satisfied with surface level relationships. But today pastor J.D. describes why deep intimate friendships are essential and not just for our happiness, but more importantly, for our holiness. Today's teaching is part of our practical series on relationships called From the Beginning. And you'll definitely want to call today and receive the 2023 Summit Life Planner. But for now, let's get into our teaching for the day.

Pastor J.D. has titled it Why Friendship is So Important. How many of you have ever had the experience of being unfriended by somebody on social media?

Raise your hand. That happened to me recently. I opened up one of my social media accounts and noticed that I had lost five friends from the time that I had previously logged on. And you know, when that happens, you always immediately are like, was it something that I said?

Did I finally post too many cute kitten videos or too many angry political rants? Or maybe these are just the reasons why I de-friend people on social media, but whatever. In January of 2009, Burger King ran an ad campaign where they said if you would unfriend 10 of your friends on Facebook, they would send you a coupon for a free Whopper. The way it was supposed to work was when you unfriended the person, Burger King would send that person a notice that they had been unfriended for, you know, a hamburger and you were supposed to be like, whoa, this burger must really be something if I can lose friends over it.

Well, the New York Times reported that the stunt worked a little too well. Within the first week, six days, 233,906 friendships have been terminated and Burger King was obligated, was on the hook for 23,000 Whoppers and had to discontinue the ad, you know, because they don't want to go bankrupt. So how valuable is friendship to you? The word friendship has taken on a skewed meaning in our culture.

It's not entirely social media's fault, but they certainly haven't helped. I do not know how many friends that I have on Facebook, but I am pretty confident that they would not be what the Bible would call a friend, even if Mark Zuckerberg would refer to them as a friend. So I want to spend our last message in our From the Beginning series talking about friendship. Most people in our culture, I would submit to you, do not pursue genuine friendships.

For many of them, it's because they don't value friendships or maybe they don't know how to form those kind of friendships. A recent survey I saw asked the question, over the last six months, how many people have you discussed deeply an important matter? Over half of the respondents could not come up with a single person outside of their family that they had discussed a deep matter with in the last six months. Many people just don't think that's important.

I feel like I can prove that to you with one question. Can you name for me your dad's good friends? If you can, you are in the rare minority of people because most men quit pursuing any kind of friendships after they get married. John chapter 15, if you have a Bible, when you study God's Word, you will see that there are very few things in life that are as important as friendship. For two primary reasons I'm going to explain today. First of all, because we are made for friendship. I'm going to explain today why it is virtually impossible for you to be really happy and fulfilled without friendships, and that is by God's design. Number two is because friendship makes us.

We are made for it, and it makes us. There is no more formative factor in your life than your friendships. I am going to suggest, quite compellingly, I think, that if you get your friends right, that one single factor, maybe more than any other, is going to set you up for success.

And on the flip side, if you get your friendships wrong, you are almost guaranteeing significant struggles for yourself and maybe even failure in your future. Here is a phrase that I'm going to use a lot, and I think I will have convinced you all by the time we get done. Here's the phrase, you show me your friends, and I will show you your future. You show me your friends, and I will show you your future. In fact, so that I can make this really, really tangible to you, I want you to write down your five closest friends. Here's what we're going to do.

I'm just holding onto that. Put it in your Bible for a second if you got your Bible. I'm going to show you the two reasons that friendship really matters in life, then I'm going to tell you how you can pursue the right kind of friendships and become the right kind of friend.

Number one, friendship matters because we are made for it. John chapter 15 verse 9. I want to start in this message where I have, and every other message in this series, with what Jesus says about God's design for these kinds of relationships from the beginning. John 15 verse 9, as the Father has loved me, Jesus says, so I have loved you. Abide in my love. Verse 12, this is my love for you. This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone laid down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants for the servant does not know what his master is doing. I've called you friends for all that I heard from my Father I made known to you. You do not choose me to be friends.

I chose you when I appointed you. These things, verse 17, I command you so that you will love one another. Well, in case you can't tell, this passage is all about friendship. The word friend, Jesus uses it three times.

It's clearly his subject. So when Jesus uses the word love in this passage, he is talking about friendship love. That's the kind of love that he's referring to. Why is friendship important? Well, the short answer is in verse 9, from all eternity, the Father and the Son have existed as friends. And being made in the image of God, that means you and I are made for friendship. The doctrine of the Trinity I know is difficult to understand, but the doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation for understanding how you and I are wired.

From all eternity, the doctrine of the Trinity teaches, from all eternity, the one God, only one God, has existed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit bound together in friendship love. That means that friendship was never created. Friendship is part of the eternal nature of God.

There has never been a time in all of eternity when there was not friendship. And you and I being created in God's image means that we were ourselves patterned after and created for friendship, just like God. That's why, by the way, when God created Adam, the first thing he says after he creates Adam is, it's not good, it's not good that man should be alone. It's kind of an odd statement when you think about God to make that about something he just made, right? I mean, he didn't make junk, and he designed it exactly according to his specifications.

Nobody's messed it up. Adam hadn't sinned yet. Why is God looking at what he just made and saying it's not good? Well, it's because we're like God. God made us like us, and Adam was alone. And because Adam was like God, God was not alone. So Adam was different than God, even though God had made Adam just like him. You see, Adam was not lonely because he was imperfect.

Adam was lonely because he was perfect. All of our other problems in life arise out of our sin and our imperfections. Loneliness is the one problem in our lives that we have because we are made in the image of God. So you say, well, I just feel like I don't really need friends. I'm kind of a loner. I work best when I'm just fishing or working on my car.

That's how I recharge. That just means you're not very much like God. God said, let us make man in our image, us. One member of the Trinity speaking to another one.

Let us make man in our image. Because you are in the image of God, you have a deep need. Deep need for true friendship. Tim Keller points out that in these verses, Jesus gives us a glimpse into what real God-like friendship actually looks like. According to these verses, Jesus believes, here, listen, a true friend is someone who always lets you in, never lets you down. Always lets you in.

Let's take apart those phrases. Always lets you in. See verse 15, where Jesus said, no longer do I call you servants because the servant does not know what his master is doing, but I've called you friends because everything I heard from my father I made known to you. Servants don't really know the hearts of their masters. They just obey, right? And that's what a servant's role is. The master doesn't share his heart with a servant. The servant just does what the master says. Jesus says, I've always wanted more from you. I created you to share my life with you, my joys, my thoughts, my pain.

I didn't say merely obey me. I said fellowship with me, commune with me, walk with me. The Hebrew word for friendship that Jesus would have used here when he originally said it is the same word for secret.

The word in Hebrew for friendship and secret are the same word, sod in Hebrew. A friend is somebody you let into the secret places of your heart. That is why, incidentally, you can't have that many true friends. There's just not enough space in your life to tell everybody everything. And it's not even safe to do that. You cannot promise everybody in your life that you could just be there for them whenever.

I don't know how many friends I have on Facebook, but I can't just post on Facebook to all my friends, call me anytime, night or day. You need help moving? I got a truck. You need somebody to watch your cat while you're on vacation? Send your cat to me. By the way, my real friends would never do that because they know I would box that thing up and FedEx it back to the gates of Sheol where it came from.

All right? So, but seriously, you just can't have that many people who show up at your house at 2 a.m., right? I mean, I don't have, that's why I love all of you and all my friends. But I don't tell you where I live so that you can just show up at my house at 2 a.m. and be like, I have a need. I don't want you to know where I live, you know, so that you don't show up. You can know where I live. But I'm saying, you know what I'm saying.

There is like, you know, you just don't have that much space to always let everybody in. A true friend, that group of friends always lets you in and a true friend never lets you down. Greater love, Jesus says, verse 13, has no one than this, that someone laid down his life for his friends.

You are my friends. You who are doing what I commanded you. Jesus was so committed to not letting his friends down that he would lay his life down literally for them. He would literally go to hell and back to purchase them.

There was nothing that could make him turn away. There was no burden he would not bear, no offense he would not forgive. We used to sing when I was a kid, 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. By the way, this is one of the most absolutely distinct features of Creole Christianity. Other religious leaders, Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, for example, they never related to their followers this way. When they died, they left behind a body of teaching their followers were to obey.

Jesus did not leave a body of teaching behind, Jesus left himself behind. In the Holy Spirit, he said, not just obey my teaching, he said, commune with me, walk with me, fellowship with me, follow me. So friendship matters because we are made for it, we're made in the image of God. We are made to be friends with God himself and then from that to become friends with one another.

And I will tell you that without any question at all, the quality of your life, whether you are an extrovert or introvert, goes up dramatically when you have the right kind of friends. We'll get right back to today's teaching with Pastor JD in just a moment. But first, let me tell you about a daily email devotional that's available to our Summit Life family.

I know we all get spammed with lots of stuff that we simply don't care about and frankly, don't even remember signing up for. But this is an email that you'll not only come to appreciate, but actually experience growth from as a result. The devotionals even follow along with whatever our current teaching on the program is, so you can stay plugged into these messages regardless of your schedule.

To sign up for this free resource, visit us at slash resources. You can also learn more about our brand new monthly resource available with your gift to the ministry today. Thanks for being with us. Now let's get back to the final moments of today's message.

Here's Pastor JD. Last year researchers took students and they gave them a weighted backpack, really heavy, and they put them at the bottom of a pretty steep hill and then they asked them to estimate the steepness of that hill. They put some of them by themselves and they put others of them in groups of two or three and they said invariably the students that were in groups of two or three rated the hill less steep than those who were by themselves. And the point is that no matter what you encounter in life, it looks less difficult when you are around the right kind of friends. By the way, many marriage researchers say the single greatest factor that determines the quality of your marriage is the quality of the friendship you have with your spouse in your marriage. One study showed, and I quote, whether wives feel satisfied with the sex, romance, and passion in their marriage is 70% dependent on the quality of the couple's friendship. Ah, for men though, men, we're wired differently, aren't we? For men, whether we are satisfied with our marriage is 70% dependent on the quality of the friendship within the marriage.

The researcher says it turns out that men and women are from the same planet after all. Many of us don't think of marriage in terms of friendship. We think mainly as marriage is primarily attraction and romance, spiced with a little friendship maybe, but good marriages are primarily friendship, spiced with a little romance. So friendship matters because we are made for it, because we're made in the image of God.

Number two, friendship matters because it makes us. Say bye-bye to John and go all the way to the book of Proverbs. Proverbs 13, 20. Proverbs was written by the wisest man to ever live, Solomon. And Solomon says this, he that walks with wise men will be wise, but a companion of fools will be destroyed.

Not that other people will destroy him, he'll destroy himself. According to that verse, listen, what one factor, one factor determines how your life is gonna turn out. The quality of the people that you choose to walk with in life. You show me your friends, Proverbs 13, 20 says, and I will show you your future, or as Craig Groeschel says it, your friends are your future you. Your friends are the future you. Craig Groeschel says you are usually the average of your five closest friends. You show me your friends and I'm going to show you your future. Look at, you are the average of your five closest friends, right? So cut out like the extremes, make sure you got one in there that's awesome and one that's a dud, so take out the extremes.

Just look at the mean, the average. If you were stoned last night, if you were drunk last night, chances are three or four of your close friends were too. If you're following hard after God, there's a real good chance that three or four of your closest friends are as well. Your friends show you the future you.

How about this one? Researchers have figured out that the friend relationship is the most significant relationship when it comes to determining how much weight you're going to gain in the future. If your spouse gains weight, you have a 37 percent chance of also gaining weight, 37 percent. If your sibling gains weight, you have a 40 percent chance of gaining weight in the future, right? Because you know some things are genetic. But if your friend gains weight, you have a 57 percent chance of gaining weight in the future. What your friends are eating is actually more of an indicator of your health habits and your closest family members.

So that means if your bestie all of a sudden decides that every day is golden corral day and every night is ice cream night, you probably ought to have a talk. Craig Groeschel says, we all have something that we would like to become, something different. Many of us want to be better parents or want to be a better worker, a better student. You want to be a more solid Christian. Groeschel says, what if the decision to become that was actually a decision of the people that you chose to most closely align yourself with?

Because according to Proverbs 13 20, that's exactly what it is. I often tell you guys, it's not the dreams you dream, it's the decisions you make. What if the dream of being whatever it is you want to become, what if the decision that got you from here to there was actually the people that you chose to align yourself most closely with? He says, you are one friend away from being a better parent, one friend away from being a better spouse. You're also one friend away from being a worse one of those. You show me your friends and I'll show you your future. I know that raises questions for you because you're like, well, aren't we supposed to be friends with everybody and have people in our lives?

Yes, you are. But here's the way I've heard it explained and I think it's really, really helpful. 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. It's just, I know that you're like, well, no, it's just the way God designed you. I'll prove it to you from the animal kingdom. I know we're not animals like the animals are animals, but you know, there's obviously similarities. A bunch of scientists were studying fish.

This is awesome. And 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. And 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, you 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 that's the decision we're talking about, because that's going to determine what happens over here. That means some of you ought to move some of the circle of intimacy into the circle of influence. People that influence you in and the circle of influence can be, there's a lot of believers in there. There's going to be people that don't share your faith because you work with them, you go to school with them, they influence you, you influence them. 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.

You don't send them an official notification that you're moving them. Okay, this is a mental taxonomy. It's not like, hey, you just got upgraded to influence.

That's not what I'm talking about. But I'm just saying that if you understand what 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 they would put down in that list. I could be the greatest preacher in America. I could be the greatest preacher in the world. I could be the greatest preacher that ever lived. And it would not make as much difference as the five people that are the closest to them.

That is what they are going to become, which is why I tell you, and I'm not being self-interested in this. Our youth pastor's not paying me product placement when I say this. 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. Boys and girls, men and women who are pointing them to the places that God wants them to go.

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 Dave 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. 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 is always based on what the most important people in your life think about you. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. It's a joy to be here with you on your station and online so that you can dive deeper into the gospel message with us each day. While these programs come to you free of charge, they actually take a lot of financial support to produce and distribute.

And that's where friends like you come in. When you donate to Summit Life, you're bridging that gap. At this time of year, your donation is more important than ever. And we'll say thanks by sending you the 2023 Summit Life Planner.

Ask for a copy when you give today. Our number is 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or give online at J.D.

Greer dot com. Pastor J.D. is also a bestselling author. His books include Just Ask and What Are You Going to Do with Your Life? as well as Gospel and Above All. Dig deeper into the truths we share every day on this program and share them with others. You can purchase a copy of these books as well as other biblical resources when you visit us online at J.D. Greer dot com. I'm Molly Vitovich. Next week, we'll conclude this practical series called From the Beginning as we learn more about the power of godly friendships. You won't want to miss us on the next Summit Life with J.D. Greer.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-17 23:01:34 / 2022-12-17 23:12:32 / 11

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