Creflo Dollar - Understanding Grace Based Relationships - Part 2
Everybody that wants to be your friend may not qualify for godly friendship. And I'll teach more as we go along, but, you know, you do have to understand that, you know, you... choose your friends carefully. Why? Go to 1 Corinthians 15. I think this will say it, let's go to the New King James Version here, New King James Version. 1 Corinthians 15, verse 33. 1 Corinthians 15, verse 33, 'cause you're gonna hear me say a little bit later that if you got friends that are having a negative impact, it's better for you to be by yourself. Okay, now watch this. He said, "Do not be deceived". So, for you to be deceived is for you to ignore what he's saying here. "Evil company corrupts good habits," so choose your friends carefully, why? Because evil company corrupts good habits.
Choose your friends carefully. The three or four friends you hang around will have the potential of enhancing your relationship with Jesus or corrupting your good habits. And you talking about, "Well, they saved". I'm talking about saved people. I'm talking about there are some saved people that can corrupt your good, godly habits, and you have to choose your friends carefully, or with some cautions. It's like some of us are so desperate to be around somebody, and this is why that happens: because you don't have a relationship with God and his Word. And when you don't have a relationship with God and his Word, then you figure it's just good to have somebody. "I don't like 'em that much, but at least it's somebody". That's pitiful. You're gonna be much better off developing a relationship with God through his Word.
So, someone would ask right now, this particular point, "So, what's the meaning of true friendship"? And I put emphasis on the word "true". What's the meaning of true friendship? Well, true friends are gonna be there when it's convenient and when it's not convenient, and you need to know these things so that you can rightly divide what is a true friendship from a toxic relationship. True friendship's gonna be there when it's convenient, when it's not convenient. Godly friendships are both honest and authentic with you. They're both honest and authentic. Now, lemme bring a point up here that's happened in the body of Christ. Unfortunately, we have perfected phoniness in the body of Christ. I call it religious phoniness. In other words, we're so afraid to be judged wrongly for our spirituality, that we would rather be spiritually phony so we can be accepted. And we don't even know how to be authentic.
Lemme put it like this: you don't know how to be real. You don't wanna be authentic 'cause you think, well, that's gonna cause you to be judged, and real friendship, godly friendship is honest and authentic. I have met people I couldn't even get a decent answer. "Hey, how you feel today"? "I'm blessed of the Lord and highly favored". I ain't ask you that. I ain't ask for no Scripture. I asked you how you felt today. I asked you how, and the way you answer that, and you can tell the truth. "Well, right now, I'm not feeling that well, but I believe that God is working on me and I'm gonna be just fine". That's how you do that. I shouldn't have to guess, "All right, is that real, or is that religious," you know? I remember doing this, I was in London, and a friend of mine I hadn't seen in a long time, I walked in the office, and I said, "Hey, man, how you doing"? He said, "It's been the worst year of my life. I got a divorce, I'm miserable, and I don't know if I'm gonna keep going on in ministry". And I said, "Praise God. Hallelujah".
See, I didn't even hear what he said. I was so tuned into responding religious. "Hey, brother. How you doing"? I thought he said, "Oh, I'm doing fine". "Well, praise the Lord". And then, I said that, "Well, praise the Lord". I said, "Wait a minute, what you say"? And I felt real bad; the man just opened his heart up to me, and I responded religiously. You can't develop real friendship on the basis of phoniness. Now, some of you say, "Well, Brother Dollar, that's my faith". Well, that's fine. Say it. Say it, then. "How you doing today"? "Well, you know what? I'm gonna speak faith. I'm blessed and highly favored of the Lord". And I'm gonna agree with you in the name of Jesus, amen? But lemme know what's going on. Don't walk around like this spiritual giant when you're really a spiritual weak person. Quit hiding behind Scripture.
Now, you can take that two ways. I'm not saying don't stand on Scripture. I'm not saying don't use Scripture. What I'm saying is don't use Scripture as a mask to cover up something. Use Scripture as a weapon to deal with something. Does that make sense? You know what I'm talking about. Now, true friends keep it real. They are not phony. They prove who they really are when you need them the most, so we're not just talking or we're not just really looking to invest in friendships, but we're looking to invest in godly friendships. If you understand that say, "Amen". So now, I probably won't finish it today, but I wanna look at... I don't know, four or five I may talk about, but, you know, when you talk about choosing a godly friend, what are some criteria you might want to consider when doing that? Because the same kinda criteria is gonna be available when you're talking about choosing a mate. You're gonna use some of these same criterias when you talking about marry that guy.
And if that guy sitting there being critical to you throughout the whole time, and if he's sitting there telling you what you can't do the whole time, and you didn't even have that in a friendship, then why in the world would you settle for it in a marriage? You see what I'm trying to do here? So, number one, choose friends who have a consistent relationship with Jesus and his Word. I'm talking about godly friendship. Choose friends that have a consistent relationship with Jesus and his Word.
Now, go to Proverbs chapter 18 in the NIV. Proverbs 18:24. Now, to be a good friend, it starts with a good friendship with Jesus. That's where it start; to be a good friend, it starts with a good friendship with Jesus. It's important that the people you choose to be friends with make Jesus their first priority, so the people you choose as a friend, do they make Jesus their first priority? Now lemme share what I have, I'm headed towards marriage, but watch this same question go where marriage is concerned. The guy or the girl you're getting ready to marry, have they made Jesus their first priority? You see where we fail? The marriage fail because we didn't know about godly friendship, and you choose a friend who has made Jesus their priority. So, the book of Proverbs in Proverbs 18 and verse 24 in the NIV. Here's what he says, he says, "One who has unreliable friends soon comes to the ruin," wow, "but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother".
One who has unreliable friends. Are your friends unreliable? Do you have friends that are unreliable? I'mma tell you something right now. I got two friends named Ken, okay, the Ken twins. I got two friends named Ken, and you talking about reliable. It ain't been reliable for two days. It's been reliable for 35 years, 35 or 40 years, and you have to understand something. I'm not ruined because I have reliable friends. I tried to run away, I mean, I could tell stories. I don't wanna get into it 'cause I'd be up all day telling these stories, but I got many stories of reliable friendships. "Well, the Lord told me to be your best friend," one guy told me; I was in Paris, remember that? "God told me to be your best friend". I looked at him, "I mean, I just met you. I don't even know if you're reliable enough to get me back to the airport so I can go home". Are you listening to what I'm saying now?
This is so, so very important. You should be able to share your pains and wounds with your friends and know that they won't turn against you like a enemy. Do you have friends that you can share your pains and wounds with and they won't turn against you like a enemy? Do you have tons of friends but not one or any that you can really open up to and talk about life? Too scared to open up to and talk about life. We talk about life all the time. We talk about a bunch of stuff, and some Christians would not be able to handle our talks 'cause it's too real. And sometimes when I preach I get too honest. I have to be careful not to be too honest. And you don't have that kinda friendship, you don't know what this kinda friendship is and what you're missing out on. You should be able to confide in your friends and trust that they support you no matter your circumstances. You might do crazy stuff, but you got somebody that's gonna trust you. You got somebody that's gonna confide in you. You got somebody that's gonna support you no matter your circumstances.
Do you have that kinda friend, or do you have an associate in the outer court? Do you have a outer-court relationship, do you have a inner-court relationship, or do you have a Holies-of-Holies relationship? And stuff, friendships or relationships, in the outer court are gonna be different from relationships in the inner court; they're gonna be different in a relationship in the Holies of Holies. It is your fault when you let somebody in the outer court know and see something that was only for people in the Holies of Holies, and so don't get disappointed when they can't handle it. You should have known what stage of friendship that person was in. The Bible also tells us again in John 15:13, he says, "Greater love has no one than this: that someone lay down his life for his friends". Are you willing to lay down your life, as Jesus did, for the people you call friends?
Your friendships should make your heart glad. Your friendships should make you glad. You light up when your friends are around. Do you have friends that when they around, you know, say, "Praise the Lord," you're like, "Oh, Jesus"? Are y'all listening to me? Lemme show you something here. Go to Luke chapter 11. Luke chapter 11, verses 5 through 13, and I wanna show you something. And this is so important, because we have a friend in Jesus, and again, that's the primary relationship, but so many people have not made that clear. That everything Jesus ever did for us, he did it because he desires an intimate friendship with us. Luke chapter 11. Most people are familiar with this when it comes to prayer. Let's look at verse 5. He says, "And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend".
So, he's talking about here, again, some things you should look at as a friend. "Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not". What a friend. "The door is now shut, and my children are with me in the bed; and I cannot rise and give thee". In other words, he's like, "Man, don't you know what time it is? We asleep. Everybody asleep, and I ain't getting up and helping you do nothing". Verse 8, "I say unto you," Jesus said, "I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend," he said, "yet because of his importunity"...
Now, what is importunity? Importunity is when you beg someone to do something. Importunity is 'cause of your begging. He won't do it as a friend. You gotta beg. If you got a friend you gotta beg, that ain't a friend. All right, look what Jesus says. He said but because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needed, but he had to beg him to do it. He had to beg him to do it. "And I say unto you", and here's what I love about this. Jesus was saying, look at what kinda friend this guy was. The friend had to beg him to get up and do it, and then he goes to the next verse and he says, "I'm not like that friend". "And I say unto you, Ask, it shall be given unto you; seek, you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened".
And you know what Jesus was saying? He says, "Here's the kinda friend I am. Ask me. I'mma do it. Seek me. You gonna find. Knock," see, the door was locked. He said, "Knock, and the door shall be opened". And you know what religion has said? You got to beg him and beg him and beg him and beg him. That's importunity, and Jesus is saying, "I am not that kinda friend where you got to beg me". My God. You have a friend in Jesus that you don't have to beg. You don't have to beg him to feed you. You don't have to beg him to help you. You ain't got to beg Jesus for nothing. He says, "I'm your friend. Ask". Oh, my God, that just blessed, and then, he goes on and he puts more to this. He says, "You know, if a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion"? He says, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him"?
We have this mindset that we have to beg God for everything because we haven't realized that he is our friend. He's our friend. Something happens when you rearrange your thinking to focus, "He's my friend. He's my friend. Lord, could you help me"? "Yeah, yeah, I'm your friend. I'm your friend". "O God, could you heal me"? "Yeah, I'm your friend". See, when you walk in fear and doubt, one of the reasons is you question your relationship with Jesus. You're condemned because you felt like what you did, you know, affected the friendship, and you feel like, you know, he don't love you no more now, but he is forever committed to being our friend. And you know what helps me that when I get down to the next relationship in marriage? Whatever comes, I've got a third party in my marriage. His name is Jesus.
Now let's move on here a little bit. I got a few minutes here. That's why this gotta be a series, 'cause I'm like we ain't got time, you know, we got a lotta stuff we gotta cover here in this thing. Here's the second way you should choose. Choose a friend that will help you grow in your relationship with Christ, someone that will help you grow in your relationship with Christ. Are your friends helping you to grow in your relationship with Christ? If they aren't, you need to make sure you are strong enough to be a witness instead of continuing to not grow with Jesus, 'cause it's so important, ladies and gentlemen, that you set boundaries in these type of friendships so that you are not separated from Jesus. You may have to even give up the relationship, or you might even have to give up the relationships so that you can keep Jesus as your priority. I don't know. Sometimes, people have a hard time with that. Like, "Well, I don't wanna hurt nobody's feelings". Well, they hurting my life. "I don't wanna hurt their feelings". It's like, well, you know, if that's gonna keep happening like that, I can't do that.
Look at Ecclesiastes chapter 4, verse 9 through 10 in the NIV. Ecclesiastes chapter 4, verses 9 through 10 in the NIV. We're gonna look at a couple Scriptures on this one now, 'cause I think this is pretty important. People you choose to be your friends, they're gonna help you grow. Look at this, he says, verse 9 and 10, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor". Verse 10, "If either of them falls down, one can help the other up". Wow. See that? If either falls down, one can help the other up. "But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up". That's a powerful thing to do in the body of Christ. The body of Christ should be friends that will help somebody up. It's so crazy when people fall, people rejoice in the failure of other people, and most of those people are Christian.
How does a Christian rejoice in the failure? How do they rejoice, gossip, and feel good about the failure of another Christian? What's up with that? We got some work to do. We got some work. It's not just the church coming back to the building. We got some work to do. We got some stuff we need to really, really think about. We got a mindset that we need to check. You ought to at least have somebody that's a friend, that's willing to help you out when you fall. And I tell everybody you fail in some serious stuff, and you're like, "I trust you, here's what happened," and don't have to go to bed wondering how many people they gon' tell.
Go to Proverbs 27:17 in the NIV. Proverbs 27:17 in the NIV. Mighty quiet in the kitchen. Mighty quiet on that walk in the park. You were shouting a few minutes ago. Now you done stop running. You done sat down by the bench. Mighty quiet. Look at this, verse 17. Here's the kinda friend you want. "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another". That's what you want. You want somebody, after you leave 'em, you got something. You sharpen them. You know, again, the Ken twins, man, we walk away with so much revelation. We done laughed and had a good time, and somebody done said something, it's like, "Whoa, that's good". Those are sermons. Some stuff I came out now, some of the stuff I said today came out of a conversation we just had. Are you being sharpened? Because when you get married, that's the same kinda thing. I don't wanna marry some woman that's not gonna sharpen me. I don't want some woman who was raised to be a slave of mine and don't bring nothing to the table. I don't want no little, weak, passive woman who causes submission because she don't know that Jesus has come to add equality to the thing so she can actually bring her wisdom to the table.
Doggone it, Adam needed Eve so he could just get to the right tree. He was all over the garden. He's like, "Goddog". "Eat of that tree. You ain't got no business over here in the first place". I couldn't do that, I can't handle no little woman coming in the house, "Yes, my lord, what would you like"? "Go. Get outta my face". I like a woman every time I come in the house, "Hey, babe, what we got to eat"? "What your hands cook". That motivate me a little bit. I say, "Oh, I gotta do a little something here". 'Cause, boy, when you doing it right, "Babe, I'm hungry". "You want something to eat"? It don't work like it's supposed to work. I'm getting ahead of myself, but when that man knows how to do what he's supposed to do and that iron sharpens iron, marriage should be a consistent relationship of sharpening. And what are you sharpening for? Because the more you sharpen in a marriage, the better you fit. And there need be some things that need to be sharpened off on both sides so that the fitting takes place better.