by Dale D. Meredith
December 17, 2017
University Baptist Church
Getzville, NY 14068
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Good News Bible, The Bible in Today’s English Version, copyright ©1976 by American Bible Society. Used by permission.
OLD TESTAMENT READING
1 Samuel 23:14-18
14 David stayed in hiding in the hill country, in the wilderness near Ziph. Saul was always trying to find him, but God did not turn David over to him. 15 David saw that Saul was out to kill him.
David was at Horesh, in the wilderness near Ziph. 16 Jonathan went to him there and encouraged him with assurances of God’s protection, 17 saying to him, “Don’t be afraid. My father Saul won’t be able to harm you. He knows very well that you are the one who will be the king of Israel and that I will be next in rank to you.” 18 The two of them made a sacred promise of friendship to each other. David stayed at Horesh, and Jonathan went home.
NEW TESTAMENT READING
6For when we were still helpless, Christ died for the wicked at the time God chose. 7It is a difficult thing for someone to die for a righteous person. It may even be that someone might dare to die for a good person. 8But God has shown us how much he loves us - it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! 9 By his sacrificial death we are now put right with God; how much more, then, will we be saved by him from God’s anger! 10 We were God's enemies, but he made us his friends through the death of his Son. Now that we are God's friends, how much more will we be saved by Christ's life! 11But that is not all; we rejoice because of what God has done through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has now made us God's friends.
INTRODUCTION: We continue our discussion of seeking happiness. There are some things we cannot change about our lives. We cannot change how much snow we have, how cold it is outside, how tall we are, what our neighbor does, what has happened in the past, what the President tweets. We call the things we cannot change the boundary conditions within which we have to find happiness. That means we must seek happiness from the things we can change.
The only things we can change are our attitudes and behavior. We have discussed practicing generosity, focusing of the present, expressing thanks, practicing forgiveness, using trials as growth opportunities, and caring for God’s temple. Today we want to discuss the formation and nurture of relationships as a contribution to our happiness. We do that knowing that just one of the attitudes or behaviors will not make us happy. Each behavior contributes to our happiness. It is the total effect of all our attitudes and behaviors that lead to happiness. Let us now look for a few minutes at the formation and nurture of friendships. We will do that by examining an example of a friendship in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament.
DAVID AND JONATHAN: The Israel and the Philistine armies were at war. They were lined up on opposite sides of a valley to fight. For 40 days the mighty Philistine giant Goliath had been challenging that he would fight any Israelite and the loser’s army would be slaves of the winner’s army. No one would accept the challenge to fight him. David was a young shepherd from Bethlehem. He accepted the challenge and killed the giant with one rock from his sling.
Jonathan was the son of King Saul. He was attracted to David, came to love him as much as he loved himself, and they swore eternal friendship (1 Samuel 18:1-3; 20:14-17, 42; 23:18). Jonathan risked his life to protect David. Saul tried to kill David. He then tried to kill Jonathan because Jonathan was taking David’s side. Jonathan knew David would be the next king. Although he was the king’s son Jonathan was pleased to let David become king instead (1 Samuel 19:1-7; 20:1-42; 23:15-18).
After Saul’s and Jonathan’s deaths (2 Samuel 31:1-5), David became king of Judah and Ishbosheth became king of Israel (2 Samuel 2:1-9). After Ishbosheth’s death David became king of the United Kingdom (2 Samuel 5:1-5). After the Philistines were defeated and David was established as king in Jerusalem he sent for Jonathan’s only surviving son who was crippled (2 Samuel 9:1-13). David accepted him and treated him as his own son for the sake of Jonathan and the vow of friendship they had made.
Throughout their lives, David and Jonathan had nurtured their relationship. Their relationship required from each of them commitment, time, overcome danger together, putting the other first, no jealousy over rank and possession, reached beyond life, and kindness to each other and each other’s children. This nurturing of relationship can also apply to family relationships.
Let us now look at the New Testament example of Jesus and his friends.
JESUS AND FRIENDS: In Mark 3:14 we read, “Jesus chose twelve, whom he named apostles. ‘I have chosen you to be with me,’ he told them.” Jesus needed friends. He chose some to be “with him.” He would also send them out to preach, but he wanted them with him as friends. This is further evidenced by two examples.
Jesus enjoyed and wanted friends with him. When Jesus went up the mountain for what we call the transfiguration where he talked with Moses and Elijah he took Peter, James, and John with him (Matthew 17:1-13). It appears Jesus wanted them to be with Him at a defining moment in His life. Mark 14:32-42 describes how Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him when he prayed in Gethsemane before he was arrested and crucified. He wanted Peter to stay awake and pray with him. He wanted Peter’s support during a difficult time in his life. Even though Peter fell asleep and later denied him (mark 14:66-72), Jesus never deserted Peter. After his resurrection Jesus appeared to Peter (Luke 24:33), and Peter was included with the other apostles (John 21).
Jesus had other friends than the apostles. It appears that Jesus often was in the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Luke 10:38-42 describes a visit to their house for dinner. Another visit is described in John 11. John 11:5 says that Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. This visit occurred after Lazarus had died. On the way to the tomb Jesus wept (John 11:35). His friend had died, and he saw Mary and the people with her weeping. He wept also. He then raised Lazarus from death. On another visit is described in John 12. Jesus was kind and defended Mary from criticism because she poured expensive perfume on him (Joh 12:7).
The relationship between Jesus and his friends required commitment, putting each other first, continuation beyond life, overcoming sorrow, overlooking things that could cause “hurt” feeling, not giving up on each other, and kindness.
LESSONS FOR US: From David and Jonathan we learn how to nurture relationships with friends. It is the same way Jesus nurtured relationships.
A combination of the lists of how David, Jonathan, and Jesus nurtured relationships might look like this:
A nurtured relationship would include:
overcoming danger together,
putting the other first,
no jealousy over rank and possession,
continuation beyond life,
overcoming sorrow together,
overlooking things that could cause “hurt” feelings,
not giving up on each other,
I think you will agree with me that being in a relationship with those characteristics would contribute to happiness.
Jesus also wants to be your friend. Our New Testament reading today included: “8But God has shown us how much he loves us - it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! 9 By his sacrificial death we are now put right with God; how much more, then, will we be saved by him from God’s anger! 10 We were God's enemies, but he made us his friends through the death of his Son.” Anyone, even enemies of God can become friends with God when they believe that the death of Jesus was for them. Jesus will be your friend and you can have the relationship that Peter, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus had. Your relationship with Jesus would include:
commitment – Jesus has made his commitment, you need to make yours
time together – Hebrews 13:5b, He “will never leave you; he will never abandon you.”
overcoming danger together - John 16:33, Jesus said, “I have defeated the world.”
putting the other first – Philippians 2:5-8 says: “5 The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had:
6 He always had the nature of God,
but he did not think that by force he should
try to become equal with God.
7 Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had,
and took the nature of a servant.
He became like man and
appeared in human likeness.
8 He was humble and walked the
path of obedience all the way to death --
his death on the cross.”
no jealousy over rank and possession – Matthew 10:32, “If anyone declares publicly that he belongs to me, I will do the same for him before my Father in heaven.”
continuation beyond life – John 14:3 Jesus promised “And after I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to myself, so that you will be where I am.”
overcoming sorrow together – Philippians 2:1a, “Your life in Christ makes you strong, and his love comforts you.”
overlooking things that could cause “hurt” feelings – 1 John 1:9, “But if we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing.”
not giving up on each other – Hebrews 13:5b, He “will never leave you; he will never abandon you.”
kindness – 2 Corinthians 9:9, “As the scripture says, “He gives generously to the needy; his kindness lasts forever.”
Philippians 2:1b, “You have fellowship with the Spirit, and you have kindness and compassion for one another.” And Matthew 25:40, "I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me!"
Christmas is real. Jesus came as a baby, grew to be an adult, taught us how to live, showed us how to live, gave himself as a sacrifice for sin in our place, and was raised to life on the third day. We must accept Him as our Savior and have our sins forgiven. Romans 5:11 says, “But that is not all; we rejoice because of what God has done through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has now made us God's friends”. That friendship begins now and lasts for eternity. Let us make and nurture our friendship with Jesus. It will contribute to our happiness.