Embrace 1 – Lesson 2

THE CALL TO BOND

Living in Love
JOHN 13: 34- 35
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Introduction
OPENING DISCUSSION
What is the difference between love and friendship? Which one comes first?

Friendship is only possible where there is love, but you can love people who may not necessarily be your friends.
John 15:13
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. ”

1. Why is Love Expected from Christians?

i). Christian love has its origin in God and is a proof that we are God’s children.

True love has its origin in God and hence is unique and divine.
1 John 4:7-8
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

ii). Christian Love is defined by a commitment of the will.

Romans 5:8
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

iii). Christian love is different from the world’s love.
The world does not give love where it does not benefit. Thus for the world, love must be earned. But Christian love is different, since it is unconditional.

1 John 3:16-18
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

Implication
Emotions may change, but a commitment to love in a biblical manner endures and is the hallmark of a disciple of Christ.
We should love others irrespective of whether they like us or not, whether Christian or not, whether ‘lovely’ or not.
2. What is Friendship?

Love, when applied consistently leads to friendship with the object of love. This is expressed through relationships that build and maintains special bonds, alliances and companionships. Hence;

i. A friend is an intimate associate

This is a person, not necessarily a relative, who is kind and helpful to you.

This was Absalom’s understanding of a friend in
2 Samuel 16:17
“Absalom said to Hushai, “So this is the love you show your friend? If he’s your friend, why didn’t you go with him?”

 

ii. A true friend is always dependable.
Proverbs 17:17
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Proverbs 18:24
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Proverbs 27:6
“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”

iii. Jesus is the pure example of a true friend.

The Lord Jesus Christ exemplified what true friendship is all about:

John 15:13-15
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

Implication
Our friendships should not be based on what we can get from others but what we can give to others.
The focus ought to be about the welfare of others than about your own benefit.

iv. Friendship is a voluntary relationship.

Friendships cannot be forced on you. You have to be deliberate about it, and put in the necessary initiative and effort. It also requires steadfastness since it can be misunderstood:

2 Samuel 3:8
“Abner was very angry because of what Ish-Bosheth said. So he answered, “Am I a dog’s head—on Judah’s side? This very day I am loyal to the house of your father Saul and to his family and friends. I haven’t handed you over to David. Yet now you accuse me of an offense involving this woman!”

Implication
Your parents or your children may not necessarily be your friends. However, it is possible for your son to become your friend in addition to being your son. Your boss could become your friend besides being the boss. But you have to work at it. It does not just happen without a deliberate effort.

v. True friendship demands mutual agreement

Amos 3:3
“Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?”
3. Why do we need Friendship?
Friendship has many benefits and is one virtue that every one of us needs here on earth.

i. Friendship is a source of encouragement

Job 6:14
“A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.”
Proverbs 12:26
“The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray” (NKJV)

ii. Friendship provides companionship which is a cure to loneliness.

God created us with a capacity for companionship. Hence, loneliness is a disease, which can only be cured by friendship.
Genesis 2:18
“The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

iii. Friends help each other become better people.

Proverbs 27:17
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

iv. Friendship creates successful teams and enhances returns.

Ecclesiastes 4: 9 – 10
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.”
4. How do we Demonstrate God’s Love Through Friendship?
In being friendly, we demonstrate that God’s love is at work in us. We can do this by:

i. Taking the initiative to befriend all people that God brings our way.

All people deserve our friendship irrespective of who they may be.
This is how God dealt with us:
Romans 5:8
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Implication
The world has the right to doubt your Christianity if they do not see your friendliness. Love is the best witness to the lost.

ii. Showing ourselves as friendly.

To be good friends we must show ourselves to be friendly.

Proverbs18:24
“A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (KJV)

Note
The people that concentrate on loving others rather than seeking to be loved make more friends than those always complaining that they are not loved.

iii. Being helpful to others.
Helping others is the practical way of loving them and befriending them.

James 2:15-16
“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”

iv. Readiness to take risks and meeting the needs of whoever God brings our way.

This gets quite tricky when you have to extend this to a total stranger.

This is the dilemma expressed in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Ideally, this parable answers the question ‘who should I extend friendship to?’

Luke 10:25-37
…. 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?…..”
That a Samaritan would help a Jew in this manner was unusual and unexpected, given the hatred and prejudices that existed between the two communities.

According to Martin Luther King;
The priest and the Levite may have asked themselves, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?”….
But when the Good Samaritan came by, he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’

Implication
Since God loved this evil world, then we, his disciples, must befriend and extend our love to all, without discrimination.
5. How do we Cultivate Friendship?

i. Respecting other people’s dignity.

Never ‘swallow’ your friend’s independence.

This is how Rebekah was treated by her relatives in Genesis 24: 57;
“Then they said, “Let’s call the young woman and ask her about it.” 58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?” “I will go,” she said.59 So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men.”

ii. Show respect and value for the other person.
Apply The 3 royal words
There are three words regarded as royal words in the world of friendship:
These words make those addressed feel valued and respected.
Yet, it is not just about words, but attitude.
Sorry
a) Always be ready and willing to apologize.
This word shows that you recognise that all human beings, including you, are not perfect.

2 Corinthians 7:9
“Yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us.”

b) Do not justify your hurting actions or words.

God only forgives repented sin; not excuses, justification or defence. Similarly, if you justify your hurting action you stand to lose your friend.

Romans 2:1
“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”

NOTE
Sometimes you never meant to hurt. You thought your action would please your friend but it ended up hurting him. The issue then is not your original intention.
If you have hurt the person you owe him an apology. Please take responsibility.

You could later explain the background but this will not change the fact that you hurt the person.
There is no friendship that can last with a person who never accepts his wrongs.

c) You must also be forgiving.

1 Corinthians 13:5;
“Love … is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs…”

Beware!
If you are not a forgiving person then don’t expect to be forgiven!
Matthew 6:14-15
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Implication
Effective friendship only lasts because either party has the capacity to feel and openly admit guilt. Someone you easily forgive becomes your friend and finds it easy to also forgive you.
The meaningful use of the words “I am sorry” is a needed lubricant in true friendship.
Please
a) Shows an attitude of humility and honor for the other person.

Genesis 19:2
“My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.” “No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”

b) Shows interest in the other person’s satisfaction and expresses an attitude that regards others as better than yourself.

Thank you
a) Expresses appreciation and pleasure

b) A thankful person is one who shares his thankfulness with his benefactor.

People feel un-appreciated when they relate with unthankful people and this hinders the development of friendship.

 

c) Another way of saying the same thing is to say “I am proud of you.”

NOTE
Thank you is a short phrase but when it is said with honesty it does wonders to relationships.

d) God expects you to be thankful.

1 Thessalonians 5:18;
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Implication
God has created us to be thankful. It is His will that we always exhibit a spirit of
thankfulness instead of an ‘ever complaining spirit’ in our relationships.
Even the very benevolent people feel valued and not taken for granted when dealing with one who is thankful.

iii. Genuine friendship demands personal physical involvement.

True friendship cannot be replaced by the social media craze.
Facebook messages, tweets, WhatsApp messages, instagram and other forms of social media interaction can never substitute the ministry of presence.

 

a) Jesus made friendship with the Samaritan woman at the well when they met physically.

 

John 4:6
“Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”

 

b) Jesus went to personally attend to his friend Lazarus.

John 11:11-15
“After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” 12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. 14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

Implication
Undoubtedly, social media platforms allow us to reach more people than we can meet physically, but they can never resolve man’s loneliness. Even with thousands of social media friends, people continue to be lonely and need personal physical attention, especially during special occasions. It is sad that social media has made us become ‘unsocial’. When people are in real need, they need real people around them!

CONCLUSION
As disciples of Christ, we are commanded to love others unconditionally. Friendship based on this type of love will be genuine and beneficial to all. True friendship will bear witness about our Christianity and love for God to those who may not even be believers.

Essentially, it is a contradiction to claim to be a believer, to love God, yet not be friendly.