Charles Stanley - Building Wise Friendships
How many loyal, devoted, loving, genuine, true friends do you have? You say, Well, I have a whole lot. But wait a minute now. Loyal, devoted, true, genuine friends do you have? Most people couldn't fill up all five fingers with those kind of friends. I'm not talking about casual friendships. Casual friendships can be many. Casual friendships can usually come rather quickly. But real, genuine, loyal, devoted, loving friends; there are not many of those. They don't come quickly, takes time to build them. And one of the reasons we don't have very many is simply because first of all, we're not willing to give the time to build those kind of relationships. Secondly, we can't find enough people to trust with our life, to be open and transparent, and to tell them how we feel, what our needs are, how we feel about different things in life that often times cause conflict and relationships.
So, when you think about your friendships, let me just simply say that your friends really, that is, if you have any true, genuine, loving, caring, devoted, loyal friends, they're one of the greatest assets you have in your life. And because they're assets in your life, you have to handle them. It takes time, it takes effort, it takes energy. And often times people say, "Well I just don't have any friends and I wish I did". What you have to ask is, "Are you trying to build friendships? Are you trying to build relationships? Or do you just expect them to happen"? You see, casual friendships sorta happen. Real, true, genuine, loving, loyal, devoted friends don't happen. They're not found, they're built. And the quality of the material we place in that friendship will determine how long it lasts and how satisfying it is. And often times we are in too big a hurry, we don't want to spend the time, we don't want to spend the effort and yet we still want those kind of friendships. They don't come that way.
So I want us to think about this whole idea because when you think about friendships, think about this. One of the first things that our Lord said was this. He said, having created Adam, he looked around at all this absolutely perfect garden and here's Adam all by himself. And He said, It's not good that man be alone. Now when the Bible speaks of man, usually it's talking about mankind, at least in some verses, and so it's certainly not good for a man to be alone or a woman to be alone. That's what God said. So in fact, He was so persuaded and convinced of that He gave Adam Eve. That is He desired that he have a relationship, that he have a friendship. And so He created her. And God made us for relationships, for companions and for friendship. And it is not good for us to live alone. I think anyone who lives alone can say while the Lord maybe has brought us to a sense of satisfaction and contentment, it's still not good in lots of ways to be alone.
And so God knew that and therefore He made preparation for it. When you think, for example in the scriptures, of how many of God's servants down through the years had friends surrounding them. For example, in fact, the Bible says that God said that Abraham was His friend, that He was a friend to Abraham. And you'll recall that Moses had Aaron and Joshua as his very intimate, close friends that helped him. You recall that David had Jonathan but he also had many other very loyal devoted friends who would have given their life for him. And of course, all of us remember Daniel, the prophet Daniel. He had three very devoted friends of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were all such good friends to Daniel; they were willing to risk their lives on the basis of a conviction that he had and that they shared.
Then the Lord Jesus Christ certainly had His friends in twelve disciples. And He knew them, He loved them, and they loved Him. And then among those twelve, He had three very intimate friends; that is, Peter, James and John. Not favorites, but intimates. Then the Apostle Paul, when you read the epistles you'll discover that the Apostle Paul had numbers of friends and he would say, Would you please tell Luke to come to see me or Timothy or whoever it might have been. He had numbers of friends. He had lots to say about them because they were very important to him. In fact, one of the greatest assets you and I have is a loyal, devoted, faithful friend. And when we don't have those there's something missing in our life.
And so I would simply ask you: Can you look around in your life today and say, "Well, yes I do have one, two, three of those friends". If you have three of those kind of friends, you are so very, very blessed. And what I want to talk about in this message is, listen, I want to talk about "Building Wise Friendships". There are all kinds of relationships and all kinds of friendships, but how do you build wise friendships? Those friendships that make a difference in our life as well as the life of a person who becomes our friend.
So I want you to turn to just one single verse in Proverbs chapter eighteen. And I want you to look if you will at the twenty-fourth verse. Let me explain it for a moment. Twenty-fourth verse of this eighteenth chapter of Proverbs, and here's what the scripture says. The Bible says that a man, and let me just say this, when the Bible says "a man" that's a man or a woman, so just gonna say that one time and that means mankind, men, women, whoever. Listen to this, "A man or a woman of too many friends comes to ruin," but you say, well, what in the world could that mean? Looks like to me that the more friends you have, the better off you have. But listen to what he says: "A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a blood brother".
There is a friend who sticks closer than even a blood brother. Now when he says, "a man of too many friends comes to ruin", what does he mean? The word "ruin" here means to be shaken so badly that you fall to pieces. Do you have a friend who'll stick by you no matter what? I am very grateful that I have a handful of friends who will stick by me no matter what. Do they always agree with me? No. Do they love me? Yes. Are they loyal, devoted, faithful, true, genuine friends? Yes! And in all the difficulties and hardships in my own life, these people have stood with me, stood by me, no matter what. Genuine, loving, loyal, devoted friends. And most people could not find three of those kind of people in their life. So what you have to ask is, "Why don't I have more friends? How, how do I develop those kind of friendships"? Those kind of friendships that really satisfy. Those kind of friendships that you feel the devotion, you feel their love, you feel their acceptance, you love being in their presence.
There's something, there's something anchoring in your soul about that kind of friendship. Well, that's what I want to talk about in this message. And I want us to think for just a moment about this whole idea. It is certainly God's plan for the life of every single one of us to have genuine, intimate friends. Maybe not many, but at least some. Close friends, a number of close friends, but those very, very few small group, that one or two or maybe three or maybe a few more than that if you can do that. Genuine, intimate friends. And I want to talk about what's required to do that. And when you think about those kind of friends and you think about what the Lord said when He said, It's not good for man to be alone. He intended for us to build, to develop, to establish, to have those kind of relationships to help fill up our life.
One of the greatest assets you and I have in our life are those friendships that God has placed in our life. Now, the big question is this. How do I develop that kind of relationship? How do I build that kind of friendship with anyone? Well I want to go back to say, Remember that often times our background has an effect upon the way we were treated. Doesn't have to be just necessarily in your childhood, but the way you've been treated in your adulthood. The way we've been treated in the past often times highly influences our capacity to be able to build wise, wise relationships, wise friendships. So, what I want to do is I want to give you a list of things that I know will prove helpful. And I'll simply want to put it in this way, that is we build wise, listen, we build wise friendships when? And I'm gonna give you a list of things. We build wise friendships when we share, listen, a deep mutual concern. That is a mutual interest that you have. Certainly all of us who are believers have a wonderful mutual interest.
Now, if you want to build a wise friendship, wise relationship, that mutual interest as a believer should always be as certainly a part of that should be the Lord Jesus Christ. If you have a relationship and a friendship that you can't ever mention His name without the other person being slightly objecting to it or feel like, "Well, now don't push me", there's something wrong with that relationship, unless it is a relationship that you're building to lead this person to Jesus Christ. Then I can understand that. But when we're talking about building friendships, loyal, devoted, loving friendships, first of all certainly that's gonna begin with a mutual sense of deep interest in things that you have together. Then this is a very important one. We can build, listen, we can build these kind of friendships, wise friendships, when, listen. When, this is very important because I want to comment about this in a moment. When that friendship is based on my meeting their needs, not their meeting my needs. That is, if my friendship is built on the fact that I'm needy and I need the other person, that friendship probably will not go very far.
Now, I believe that God wants to bring all of us to the place where He is absolutely sufficient in our life. So I know in my own life, for example, I've lived long enough, a number of years now alone. And I know that God does know how and that He can bring us to the place in our life, now listen carefully, where we do not feel needy. We don't need anyone. Now I didn't say we do not need people, but that we don't have this neediness so that our relationships and friendships are based on I need this, I need you, I need that, I need him, I need her. Because those kind of relationships don't really last very long often times. But the Lord Jesus Christ in our heart can bring us to a point of such absolute complete, listen, adequacy, sufficiency, completeness, contentment in Him, that we then can build very godly, wise, wonderful, contenting, energizing, motivating friendships because it isn't based on need. It is based now on how can I help this person, how can I meet their needs, how can I, how can I be the person they need me to be to them?
And so there is a difference between developing a friendship based on this very needy "I need you" kind of feeling and "I must have you" kind of feeling. And a freedom from all of that, that makes it possible for us to build very wise, godly, contenting, fruitful, delightful, pure relationships and friendships. And I would say to anyone, if you're thinking about getting married, you be sure number one, you're not marrying somebody who is a very, very needy, needy person, because listen to me carefully. Say "amen" if you're listening. I knew you were gonna say "amen" on this one. Because, listen to me, no man will ever be able to meet all of any woman's needs. No woman can meet all of any man's needs because only Jesus can do that. He will use the other person and He will work through them to meet needs, whether they're material needs or physical needs or emotional needs or whatever it may be. He will use them, that's part of it. But ultimately, no one person can meet all your needs.
And so if you're one of those needy persons and that's why you're contemplating marriage, you're gonna get yourself in trouble. And this is why when people are divorced and three months later they're with somebody else and they're into another marriage in six months, and they've not let years go by, what happens is they ricochet off of one onto the other and carry their neediness onto the other person and all they do is duplicate their problem. Likewise, if we're gonna build these kind of relationships and we're gonna build these kind of friendships, we must be willing to risk rejection and pain. We're all gonna have it. Because all of us are human, here's what happens. Two people can love each other or two people can have a good relationship and they, one of them's gonna do something that the other one feels rejected or feels like well you, you, you weren't thinking about me, you didn't care. And they're gonna feel pain.
Listen, if you are waiting till you can find someone who will cause you no pain, who will cause you no sense of rejection whose life is such that you'll never have any hurt, you'll never have a relationship. Because Jesus, for example, He caused the Apostle Peter some pretty straight pain. He said to him, You act like the devil. Now that had to be painful in front of the rest of them. And so therefore when we come to building these wise relationships and friendship, you got to be willing to suffer a little hurt, a little pain, a little misunderstanding, and some rejection.
You want to build strong relationships and friendships? Listen, when we do, and we really choose to do so, we can do that when we love sacrificially. If I love sacrificially, it means that I can give and expect nothing in return. It means that I can also give when I have needs but I don't have to mention them. It means that I can put myself second. It means when I don't agree, I can still condescend to do whatever I need to do. It means if I love sacrificially, I'm willing to lay down my life and lay down my wants and my wishes in order to please and to make the other person happy and to bring them to contentment and joy in their life. And so, when a person is building wise relationships, wise friendships, they are willing and they can love sacrificially. Even though they think they're right sometime, they don't have to have their way. They're willing to lay that down.
If you're gonna have those kind of relationships, you must be willing to be open and transparent. Now what do I mean by that? Simply this. If you're gonna build, if you're gonna build a friendship with someone, you gotta open your heart. You've got to be willing to say, You know, let me tell you how I'm feeling and not worry about whether the other person's going to respond in the wrong way or not. To be transparent says I'm gonna be open, honest about my feelings, about what I'm thinking, how I'm thinking, why I thought that way, why I did this. And the other person may question that. Well, you know what? If you wait till you get somebody who always agrees with you, that's not friendship. Friends are willing to confront, but genuine true friends confront in love. They confront with the idea of edifying the other person, building them up, strengthening them, helping them to see their relationship to God, helping them to understand what is best in their life.
You see, if you're going to build those kind of friendships, it takes effort. It takes energy. And I must be willing to open my heart. My heart goes out to people who are lonely. Who've shut themselves into a very small world for fear of rejection, further rejection. Fear of further hurt, further pain. You know what? You're not gonna get out from behind that wall until you're willing to risk it. Are you gonna get hurt? Yes! Pain? Yes! Rejection? Yes! Is it worth it? Yes! But you've got to be willing to get out. You gotta be willing to spill it. Say, you know what? I'm imperfect. Here's what happened in my life. And I need help, I need your understanding, I need your prayers, whatever it might be. Likewise, when we really and truly want to develop lasting, true, genuine friendships, we will do that when the principles of scripture govern our relationship. When the principles of scripture govern our relationship.
Now that would eliminate a lot of things in people's lives. If they said, "You know what? I certainly want to be your friend and I would be interested in building a friendship relationship with you". And let's just decide in the very beginning that the principles of the Word of God will govern our relationship. It'll govern what we say to each other. It'll govern how we react to each other. It will govern our conduct and our behavior in public and in private. It will govern every aspect of our life because we want a godly relationship. And when you can say that I, or when you choose to build a relationship governed by the principles of the Word of God, you're gonna build a fantastic relationship, a loving, loyal, devoted, immeasurable, incomparable, indescribable relationship that will bring you the greatest sense of contentment and joy and peace and happiness in your life, no matter what. Your greatest asset, those kind of friends.
And remember this, they don't come cheap, they don't come quickly, they come over a period of time. If you're not willing to invest any time and any effort, you won't build real lasting friendships. But if you are, it'll be one of the greatest assets of your life, bring you the most joy. Now I want to talk about one particular friendship. I want to talk about the most important friendship that you and I have. And that is our friendship with Jesus Christ. He said to His disciples in John chapter fifteen, that fifteenth verse, He says, You're my friends. Not only were they His friends, you know what? Every single one of us, the Lord Jesus Christ desires to develop a friendship with us.
And it was interesting after the first service, this young lady came by and she said, How do I see Jesus as my friend and at the same time see Him as the supreme sovereign of the universe? How do I see Him that way? And so I simply said to her this. I said, You know, I can acknowledge that He's the sovereign of the universe. He's the sovereign of the universe who is so great and so grand and so glorious and so powerful and so awesome and so loving that when I call upon Him, He listens to me personally. When I talk to Him, all of His sovereign power does not separate us, it draws us into oneness. It is possible to have an intimate, loving, satisfying, contenting, eternal relationship with the Son of God. And remember this. This relationship is built on His unconditional love for us, on His continuing forgiveness of us. Listen, on His eternal plan for us. So that when you develop a friendship with Jesus, it's eternal. It is forever and no matter what happens, that friendship will never be broken.
And I want to ask you if you've never trusted Him as your savior, no matter how many other friends you have, there will always be a gap in your heart. Always be an empty space there because there's a space created there in your life for Jesus, the best friend you'll ever have. And He's yours for the asking. If you ask Him, Lord Jesus, forgive me of my sins. I do believe that Your death on the cross paid my sin-debt in full. And I'm asking You to forgive me and trusting You to become my savior, my lord, my master and surely I want You to be my friend. You know how long it'll take Him to do that? Just about like that. He's ready to build a relationship with you that'll satisfy you forever and ever and ever.