Second Sunday of Advent (C), December 7, 2003
I Want to be a Friend!
Philippians 1:3-11

It really doesn’t matter
what Personality Inventory test I take. I come out being friendly and
needing friends. My wife tells me I never meet a stranger. I gather
energy when I’m around people. Friendships affect my feelings and the
way I look at life. I thrive on frequent encounters, productive
exchanges, shared ideas.

E. J. Morgan wrote a verse found in God’s Little Devotional Book II. In part it reads:

“I would rather walk with you awhile
Today in some friendly mode,
Than to wait until tomorrow comes
To drive along the road.

I’d rather be the present friend
In every gentle way,
So let us make the most of it
While it is called today.”

friendships today help us to keep those friendships for life. St.
Paul grasped that truth when he wrote a letter to his friends in
Philippi centuries ago. He said, “I thank my God every time I
remember you” (Phil. 1:3 NIV). In Philip-pians 1:3-11, friendship
flows out of the page. The secrets to learning how to develop
friendships spans time.

Secret 1 to developing friendship: be there.

writer of Proverbs states, “Your own friend and your father’s friend,
forsake them not . . . Better is a neighbor who is near (in spirit)
than a brother who is far off (in heart)” Proverbs 27:10 AMP.

need to be a “present friend” who is there when I’m needed to work
alongside, listen when my friend is hurting, laugh with them, be a
light in their darkest hours and just “be” for them. Miles may
separate friends but their spirit brings them together. Stay glued
together beyond the distance through e-mails, snail mail, telephone
conversations, and the “occasional” visits.

greatest bonding comes through prayer when we are separated. Paul
indicates in Philippians 1:3-4 that praying for your friends –
thanking God for them, interceding on their behalf, asking God’s
blessing on the fellowship – is just a natural part of friendship.
Who prays for you? Thank God for them. They are present with you more
than some folks who are talking to you bodily today!

Secret 2 to developing friendships: be gracious.

idea of being gracious is actively showing loving kindness to others.
We simply help put a smile on a friend’s face, or delight to the
heart, or step in to bring beauty in ugly situations. We live in a
cold and often cruel world that leaves us empty and alone, but a
friend understands and asks us to come and sit for a while by the
fireplace they call time.

F.W. Faber is
credited with two thoughts on kindness that speak to my heart: “Kind
words are the music of the world.” And “Kindness has converted more
sinners than either zeal, eloquence, or learning.”

Secret 3 to developing friendship: be honest.

apostle puts it this way: “be unsullied and blameless in relation to
anyone’s stumbling.” (Philippians 1:10, Berkeley Version).

friendships develop and mature, honesty grows more important. Trust
broken never recovers. That’s why it is important that we plant the
seed of honesty and trust at the beginning of any relationship and
allow it to grow. Honesty may allow us to disagree agreeably and to
be discrete in our thinking, but it does not allow us to lie to the
other person. Honesty is like what Jesus said about Nathaniel,
“transparent” (see John 1:47). Our deep relationships should so be
transparent that anyone can see right through us to know what we are
thinking, observe how we act, and believe what we say. That’s pure
honesty – and a pure heart.

I hope you can find
a friend that sticks close like a brother or sister. Everyone needs a
friend. Remember also that you’ve got a friend in Jesus!


Sermon brief provided by Derl G. Keefer, Adult Ministries Coordinator,
Church of the Nazarene, Kansas City, MO

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