Ecclesiastes 4:7-8 (NIV)
Again I saw something meaningless under the sun:
There was a man all alone;
he had neither son nor brother.
There was no end to his toil,
yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
“For whom am I toiling,” he asked,
“and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”
This too is meaningless—
a miserable business!
Proverbs 17:17 (NIV)
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
1 Samuel 18:3-4 (NIV)
And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. \Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.
Additional Scripture References: Proverbs 18:24; 25:17, 20; 27:5-6, 9, 14, 17; 28:23; 29:5; 1 Samuel 20:40-42
In our three-week series, How To Make A Friend, Teaching Minister Zach Van Dyke is taking us through the book of Proverbs as we explore what the Bible says about friendship and what role friendship plays in building a Christ-centered community. This week we focused in on the building of a friendship and began to start looking at ourselves and what kind of friend we are to others. If friendship first starts with each of us individually, then to make a friend we must first be a friend. It is through constancy, care, candor and confession that friendships are built.
Read Ecclesiastes 4:7-8. In the sermon, Zach says that prioritizing position, power, wealth and seeking personal achievement above personal relationships is meaningless. How does this strike you? Within our cultural context, is this an easy truth to accept?
In light of the four c’s that Zach describes as a mark of true friendship (constancy, care, candor, and confession), how are you doing at being a friend? How would you have answered the question before you had these four measuring tools? Is there one that comes more naturally to you or maybe one that’s especially challenging for you?
Zach specifies near the beginning of his sermon that it’s not nearly as helpful for us to evaluate how others are doing at being our friend rather than asking ourselves how we are doing at being a friend. Why do you think we feel the inclination toward evaluating others before we evaluate ourselves?
Read Proverbs 17:17. This verse isn’t necessarily saying that a friend is with you at all times, but instead all kinds of times. This is the type of constancy that defines healthy, committed friendships. Why is it valuable to have a friend willing to show up in all seasons? Why is it valuable—to you and those you love— to be the kind of friend willing to show up in all seasons?
Read Proverbs 25:20 and 26:18-19. Both of these proverbs are talking about a lack of real care—the kind of care that comes from being emotionally connected. Can you think of a time when someone—a friend or otherwise—carelessly said something without knowing your story, personality, or sensitivities? Or has there ever been a time when you yourself hurt someone this way? Why is it that God calls us to be more intentional and careful in our relationships?
Read Proverbs 29:5. What can be gained by a commitment to candor within friendships? What is it that can be lost that sometimes scares us from that type of honesty?
- True friendship has both candor and care. What are a few practical ideas to strike a balance between the two?
Read Proverbs 28:13. Reflect back on the Charles Spurgeon analogy Zach cites that sin is like an acorn. If in our hearts is the potential for an entire forest of evil, why would we want to reveal our hearts to others through confession? What is it that often stands in our way?
Amidst a lot of self-reflection this week, it is likely clear that there was only one perfect friend. But as we all seek to let people in and not let people down, there is room for us to be transformed into the image of that perfect friend for the sake of others. Spend some committed time this week asking God to reveal to you what areas you need to improve upon to be a better friend to those he has entrusted to you. What steps do you need to take this week toward being a better friend?