Creflo Dollar - Godly Friendships - Part 1
So today I want to continue the series on godly friendship, and I want to start in the NIV version of Proverbs 17:17. Does everybody know where this series is trying to take us here? Do you understand where we're going with this series? And those of you at home, you're sitting at the couch and you're sitting by your wife and I said something that kind of freaked you out as a man, sit there, boy. Stay there. Stay there. Sit there, woman. Stay there. And let's find out what's going on, amen? He says here in verse 17, NIV, he says, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity".
A friend loves at all times. This is so interesting because we think love only takes place when you get married. You got to learn how to walk the love walk in friendship. And he says a friend loves at all times, and what is he implying? Good times, bad times. Easy times, hard times. A friend loves at all time and a friend is there for this very reason, for adversity. And so in friendship, you don't break the friendship when a hard time comes. You don't break the friendship when adversity comes. That friendship is born for those hard times.
Now, go to NLT. Same verse, verse 17 in the NLT. He says, "A friend is always loyal," that's powerful. Because when you're talking about loyalty, I mean, think about it, God's trying to teach you loyalty and friendship so it would be something that's automatic in marriage. Loyalty shouldn't be something that you're questioning about when you get married. Loyalty should be something that you learn in the friendship relationship. And so when you're loyal, you are reliable, you're always true, you're faithful. When you're loyal, you're reliable, you're true, it's kind of like a good old dog that's going to always be faithful and true, okay? And he says that a friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in times of need, friendship.
And then look at this in the Message translation. Godly friendship. I'm convinced that, you know, like the tabernacle is divided up into three phases: the outer court, the inner court, and the holy of holies. So likewise, I believe our lives are kind of like that. You know, we've got the holy of holies. I'll start there. That's what you and God. Then you got the inner court. That's you and friendship. And then you've got the outer court. Just knowing how to respect people and how to treat folk, you know. And he says here, "Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble". I love that because he's implying here that the friendship level should be like family. He says, "Friends love through all kinds of weather, and family stick together in all kinds of friends". "Well, pastor, what if you don't trust your friend"?
Maybe that's not the person for you, you know. But here is the blueprint for friendship here in Proverbs 17 and 17. Now, what I want to start off here, I normally save the practical for last. I'm going to start off with the practical first before we get in the Scripture. And when I talk about the characteristics of godly friendship, I want to give you eight characteristics. If there's something about, I like to give people list when we're talking about applying things in your life. It can become a little checklist for the things that you will begin to apply when you walk out of church. And so some characteristics of godly friendship.
Number one, the first characteristic of a godly friendship, number one, true friends don't expect anything from you. True friends don't expect anything from you. One of the biggest reasons why friendships dissolve is because you have this expectation, this expectation. And when that expectation is not fulfilled, then disappointment is a result. See, when you go into a friendship always expecting something, you know, you've got a motive or an expectation, you probably need to talk about that and get it open because what happens, you know, you really didn't have a right to expect that from that person. And then when you expected it from them, you know, and it didn't come, now you're disappointed. You know, you're expecting for them anytime you have trouble to come over to the house. Y'all should have talked about that because they're like, "I ain't that kind of friend, I call you on the phone".
So when they didn't do it because that's what you expect for them to do, then now you're disappointed. But you didn't even have a right to have that expectation of them. Your expectation came maybe from a movie you saw, or your expectation came from a warped definition that somebody gave you before. But true friendship, it does not expect anything from that person. And if there's something you're needing to talk about, you bring that open. But don't sit there and secretly expect something; and then disappointment arise, now you don't want to be friend no more and then you begin to say stuff like, "Well, if you was really my friend, you would have did that". Wait a minute, baby, you're disappointed because you expected me to do something I didn't even know was important to you.
Number two, true friends are compassionate and kind. True friends are compassionate, and they are kind. And if this world needs something now, it needs some compassion and some sure enough kindness, amen? Have you noticed lately people just mean? There's some mean people. You can go to the grocery store, you know. "Could you please put the eggs in the back"? "Yes, ma'am". I mean, you know, did we wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? True friends are compassionate and kind.
Number three, true friends, watch this, extend forgiveness. True friends are not going to be in a position where they don't forgive you because of a past hurt or disappointment from another relationship. When you become a true friend, you extend forgiveness. The question today is, are you extending forgiveness?
Number four, true friends rejoice with you, and they give you a shoulder to lean on or to cry on. There's one thing about true friends. When something great happens to you, they rejoice with you, they rejoice with you. And when something bad happens to you, there's a shoulder here to lean on or to cry on. I tell you what, when you're in friendship with somebody and something happens to them, they get a great house, you ain't got, man, you are almost in tears because you're so happy for them, that's not so today. With the spirit of self-centeredness today, sometimes people get sick at the promotion of other people. You know what it's called when you get sick at the promotion of other people? Envy. You're so sick, you can hardly stand to hear them talk about their promotion, 'cause you're so busy thinking about, "Well, what about me? How come God won't do this for me? Why God did that for them and didn't do it for me"? And so you got to understand that you don't ever have to question whether or not a true friend is genuinely happy for the promotion that took place in your life. If you have to question that, then that friendship is questionable as well because true friendship rejoices with you, and they give you a shoulder to lean on or to cry on.
Number five, number five, true friends listen intently to what you have to say. They listen intently to what you have to say. That's something that I'm constantly working on. My wife talks to me about that. Listen to what people have to say. Be a good listener. You know, I think it was Dale Carnegie that said, "You are a good communicator when you become a good listener". That sometimes people will say to you, "Wow, you're an excellent person to communicate with," and you hadn't said a word. You just spend time listening. Be a good listener.
Number six, true friends help carry your burdens. True friends help carry your burden. Now, they might not have a dime in their pocket to help you to pay that bill off, but they might call you every day to pray with you about believing God for that money to show up. You know what I'm saying? They will help carry a burden. "What can I do to help you carry that burden"? True friends will help carry a burden.
Number seven, true friends send up prayers on your behalf to God. True friends send up prayers on your behalf to God. Do you have a friend that will pray for you? That's awesome, to know that I know I got somebody praying for me. True friends, and here's the thing about it. When you have true friendship and they pray for you, a lot of times they don't even have to know what's going on. They might show up and say, "You know, God put on my heart to pray for you this morning". I'm so glad I got some people that pray for me, amen, and don't even have to call and get a prayer line together. I got somebody that just knows and just senses the Holy Spirit when it's time to pray for somebody.
Number eight, true friends lovingly will point you back to Jesus if you're falling away. A true friend won't sit there and let you fall away from God. They will do everything they possibly can. True friends, true friends always going to point you back to... now, this is godly friendship I'm talking about now, okay? Godly friendship. I'm not talking about any other kind of friendship, I'm talking about godly friendship. Godly friendship will always point you back to God when you are falling away.
So here's the next obvious question, and I want to remain practical for about 10 more minutes. The next obvious question is, you know, why do we need friends? Because there's some people who are convinced, "I don't need nobody. I don't need no friends". And I understand there must be an area of brokenness somewhere, there must be an area where you've gotten disappointed, there must be something that happened in your life to get you to that point where you're convinced that you don't need friends, but I apologize. Friendship, relationship was created by God, and it was created by God to benefit you. It was created by God to help build a bridge from where you are to another place. There's something about friendship that's amazing. I believe it was you, bishop, who said everything in life happens at the speed of relationship, and sometimes people try to see things happen at life without relationship. You really think you are in an island, and in some cases you think you're all right until you get around other people who can say to you, "It's not all right".
There are some things you are displaying that is a result of an isolated person, and one of the things that happens in the life of an isolated person is strong deception. You're the only one that will judge the things that you're doing and how you're doing and there's no one there to kind of help you to grow. It's kind of like working out in a weight room and you got 400 pounds on the bench press. You would really appreciate a spot, you know. There's some things you don't need to do by yourself. Bench-pressing 400 pounds alone may not be a good idea. We might not find you for 2 weeks, you know, because you needed somebody there to kind of give you a spot, and that's what a true friendship does. It gives you a spot. And so I want give you, you know, about four or five things, I want you to think. These lists I hope you'll use as a checklist. But, you know, why do we need friends? Why do we need friends? What's the benefit of it? Hopefully this will convince you to step out of your island and pursue some friendships.
Well, number one, we need friends, number one, to keep us accountable for our actions, to keep us accountable for our actions. Do you have anybody in your life that will keep you accountable for your actions? Well, the reason why, you know, friendship is a good idea from heaven is that we need friends to keep us accountable for our actions. Here's a second reason why we need friends. To speak truth to us. It's so dangerous to be by yourself. It's so dangerous not to have somebody that can speak some truth to you. The Bible says speaking the truth in love that we may grow up. And so I know immediately your growth has been stunted because there's nobody to speak the truth to you. There's nobody to tell you that you have a nasty attitude when you have a nasty attitude. There's nobody there to tell you that your hygiene needs to be checked. "Ain't nothing wrong with me. If you don't like it, stay away from me. I don't care. I don't care about nothing".
There's a difference between not caring care and being indifferent. You know, you don't want to be indifferent because you push everybody away from you. Like, "Forget you then with your stinking self," you know. That's not what he's talking about. He's talking about not caring that care, but you need people to speak the truth to you that you may grow up. You know what the Bible is saying there? He's saying that part of your growth is going to be in the hands of that godly relationship, that there's some Christians that are not growing because they don't have a godly relationship called friendship, and as a result of not having that, every year you're the same. Have you ever met somebody that's the same? I mean, you haven't seen them for 20 years, and when you see them 20 years later, it's amazing, they are the same person. They've not changed a bit. Part of that is they don't have anybody to speak truth into their lives, and they're quick to debate and to defend their deception because they've been there so long.
Number three, we need true friendships to help us through life challenging times. There's some challenging times that happen in life. We're coming out and in the midst of a challenging time with this pandemic and all the things that happened in the pandemic, that was challenging. And each one of us could have curled up in the corner somewhere and just, you know, died, I guess. And it's tough, it's rough, and we can all sit and we can talk about all the bad things that we've gone through, and how we need people, and how we need to see folks. Hey, I don't make any arguments about that, but the reason why you have true friends is somebody to help you through those life challenges. I don't know what I would have done without, first of all, my relationship with God; secondly, my relationship with my wife. My relationship with God, and my relationship with my wife, and then my holy of holies friends. They absolutely helped me through this thing.
It was very, and becoming even more difficult to preach to chairs and nobody's there to say amen, nobody's there to say, "You sharp," nobody is there to say, "I get it". Nobody says anything. I'd walk out the house and I'd tell Taffi, I said, "Tell me how, I'm sharp". She says, "You sharp, baby". And that was it 'cause I know that was all I was going to get. That was all I was going to get. And it became like you're just in this world. You know, I've traveled for almost 40 years around the world and that was over, that was done. And, you know, we can swap stories over that kind of thing. But if we talk about, "Well, how are you able to make it without losing your mind"? First of all, that Word. First of all, that Word and that relationship with God. God says, "All right now, son. Here's what I want you to do. Build a routine. Build a routine in your life. Get up in the morning, spend time with me. Get up in the morning, do your supplements. Make sure you work out".
Man, that gym was a friend of mine. "Make sure you work out and you spend time working out, and then after that"... And we did pretty good to about what, Taffi? About 12 or 1 and that's when we had to kind of work, "All right now. What are we getting ready to do now? What fittin' to do now"? "Well, let's go to the grocery store," that was a outing. The grocery store became an outing. "Let's go to the grocery store, maybe we might run into some people". I'm serious, y'all know what I'm talking about, man. The grocery store was a big deal, man. And so it's friends that would help out. It's friends that, you know, it was cool when, Kennedy Fuller came and spent three, four days with us and we could eat pancakes with a friend now, that I get to see Ken every morning except for Wednesdays. And so I made it through, and then some family members would came. I would have to go and hug my mama around the ankles, and we could swap those stories. Or you can talk about, that I had somebody to help me through.
Now I know there's probably somebody in Atlanta right now, "Pastor, I ain't had not one soul, not nobody". So you're going to get mad now. It's escalating. "I ain't had nobody, I ain't have nobody, thank you, Jesus. Ain't nobody call me and check on me". Hallelujah. No, no, no. So now it's time for you to think about what is it that you're doing to not have friendship. Maybe it might be time for you to get one, amen? And not a friend to satisfy your lust, but a friend that you can be a blessing to. 'Cause anytime you have a friend and the only thing they're doing is taking the advantage instead of giving the advantage, that is a toxic friendship. That is something you don't need to get into, grow into, or be a part; and that's easy to take place. You can tell that after a couple of days. If it's always what you can do for them, and they're not fighting to be able to give you the advantage, you might want to put a hold on that thing until they learn how to carry on a good godly friendship 'cause friendship should be a fight to give the advantage to one another.
Oh, y'all don't hear me. I go out with my friends. It's never assumed who's going to pay the bill. Everybody trying to come up with a new scheme of how to take care of the bill before the other ones, and I'm getting rusted. Them jokers has got me the last few times. You know, they call ahead of time. "Could you put this on my card? We gonna come to your restaurant". "Well, I don't know how much it is". "Just get the card and how much it is you", and I'm thinking, "Doggone it, I'm getting slow at this". Friendships are always fighting to see who can give the advantage, not take the advantage. Amen? Okay. What's this, number four maybe? We need friendships why? To keep us on the right path in our daily sanctification. Keep us on the right path in our daily sanctification. You know, friends just not going to let you, you know, be at home looking at porn all the time.
Somebody say, "Well, he will if I don't tell him". It'll come out. You know, stuff you do in the secret seems to float to the top of the water. And if you will allow them to be friends, without even knowing what you're doing, their life will help to keep you on the right path even if it brings back conviction. Their life will help to keep you on the right path in your daily sanctification without even knowing what you're doing. That kind of friend just by having them in your life says, "I feel really stupid and dumb around my friend". Because most of the time when your friends... you already know. You already know. Ain't nobody got to say nothing. And then when you finally do talk about it, they say, "Well, I already knew". That's a friend, though. "I already knew, but I wasn't going to let you kill yourself and I was praying and waiting on wisdom do do what need to be done". That's friendship.
You see what I'm saying? Learn how to do this. And when you get into marriage, you're just translating all of these characteristics of friendship into a marriage. Here's the next one. Why do we need friends? To encourage, to encourage. Man, to encourage. I don't know, I seriously don't know, you talking about, you know, a point in this whole time where you just thought, "If I wanted to, I could snap". But I got a routine. I was ministering to us as a church more during the pandemic than I was before the pandemic. Every day, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Sundays; and I'm like, "Wow". So every member became an encouragement to me. I almost broke down crying doing the daily things one time. I don't know, 'cause there was so much encouragement coming in to me when I thought nobody's going to tune in to listen to some confessions.
"Now, who going to make some confession with me? People get tired of that, you got to do something more than a confession". God said, "I didn't tell you to do that. I told you to do that little simple thing, and you're talking about encouragement and that". They say I help them, but they helped me and all of the encouragement you get, that's what friends are supposed to do. They're supposed to encourage. You're not supposed to always show up needing to be encouraged. You ever had that kind of person? Every time you look around, they got something wrong. You kind of cautious about asking, "How are you doing"? 'Cause you say, "How are you doing"? "Well," here you go, you know?
And then finally, let me give you one more because I want to get into the sermon today. Why do we need friends? It's to point us to Jesus in those crazy times in our lives. We're about to make some really dumb decisions intellectually. We're bound to make some dumb decisions. Psychologically we've gotten some things, and we need somebody who can go past all of the intellectual, psychological, carnal type of way of thinking and we need some friends to just point us to Jesus. I know at the time you might not want to hear it. I know at the time, you know, "I'm hurting. I just lost my job. This situation up. I don't need no Scripture right now. I need a job". No, you need some Scripture. By pure fact you said that, you just let us know how bad it is. You need Jesus, and you need somebody to point you to Jesus.
I'm so glad at my lowest, lowest I had somebody to, "Hey, there's Jesus, there's Jesus". I'm glad I got a wife that when it gets real crazy she says, "There's Jesus, there's Jesus before you quit". I walked home one day and I told Taffi, she said, "What's wrong"? I said, "It's been a nice ride". She said, "What you're talking about"? I said, "I'm done. That's it". I said, "I'm going to come off all the stations. I'm going to, you know, it's been a nice time. World Changers have been amazing. Maybe I ain't the one no more. It's time to move on". And first of all she said, "Have you talked to Jesus yet about all this"? Pointed me to him. And I said, "No, I hadn't". And soon as I asked him, Jesus started dealing with me about the principles of the crumbs and he gave me new insight on how to do some things and how to reset some stuff. And I tell you what. You need friends. You need friends, okay? You need friends in your life.