Series: Improving Companionship In Your Marriage #4
What does it mean to be a friend?
I remember the very first time I started to think hard about what it meant to be a friend. It was in Greek class in seminary. Dr. M (as I’ll call him) was one of those stuffy, but likeable professors.
As students, we felt a bit of distance and stand-offishness from him, but nothing to be greatly concerned about. Of more concern was the Greek quizzes that he would give!
One day, he started talking about what it meant to be friend. Dr. M complained that most people use the word “friend” too loosely. Some people would declare a person a friend after just meeting them.
Facebook wasn’t around then, but I imagine he would have a fit about “friending” people on Facebook. He’d say, “Those aren’t friends!”
Dr. M said that he made a very clear distinction between who was a friend and who was an acquaintance.
While he knew a lot of people, and was acquainted with many, he had very few actual friends. He said that a friend was someone that…well, I don’t remember what he said!
But that’s what we’re going to explore in this lesson. What does it mean to be a friend? And how does that help us improve our companionship in our marriages?
We began this series looking at Genesis—
18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. (Genesis 2:18)
Here we have the core about what marriage is supposed to be about—companionship. God said that it was not good for man to be alone.
Adam did not recognize this need—God did. We might think that we are fine being alone. But God declares that it is “not good” (and, remember, this statement came after God declared creation several times to be “good” and “very good”).
However much you want to be a lone wolf, the fact is that you are designed to have friends.
A marriage companion is a special friend. Eve was to be a “help meet.” We have already seen that this literally means “a helper like his opposite.” Eve was to be a companion that filled in the gaps for Adam.
This is why men and women are different—we are designed to compliment one another. This is why the biblical design for marriage has always been one man and one woman.
Companionship or friendship is a fundamental purpose in marriage. But what is the goal of this friendship? Is it merely to have someone to come home to at night? To prevent loneliness? For many people a dog or a cat can do that.
No, when God said that it was “not good that the man should be alone,” he wasn’t referring to Adam being lonely. It was that Adam would not be able to be complete in the most intimate sense.
So what is the goal of this marriage friendship? One goal is, of course, to produce children and to raise a family. But beyond having children, why are you married? The answer to that is the goal of this lesson.
WHAT IS FRIENDSHIP?
Let’s take some time to explore what the Bible says about friendship in general. What makes a friendship? We could say a lot, but let’s just stick with three basic ideas:
Friends Share The Same Worldview
What is a friend? Most people would say that a friend is someone with whom you have a lot in common. You go to school or church or work together, so you experience common events and problems and joys.
But there’s something deeper than just sharing the same environment. You can have people who live together, work together, and worship together who never become friends. Why is that? It’s because they don’t share the same worldview.
David and Jonathan were arguably best friends. But Jonathan was King Saul’s son. Jonathan was in line for the throne! Why would he befriend a person who was going to take the throne from him? Because they shared the same worldview.
1 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. (1 Samuel 18:1)
David and Jonathan were one in their outlook on life, their worldview. They saw things the same way. Jonathan knew that David was the rightful heir to the throne and accepted that.
It’s not that friends agree on every little thing, but they share the same worldview:
- They bow to the same God.
- They love the same Bible.
- They go the same way.
- They long for the same things.
- They hope in the same promises.
In a marriage, the husband and wife need to share the same outlook on life. They need to see things the same way, at least the big things of life. They need to have the same worldview.
Why does the Bible warn against Christians marrying unbelievers (e.g., 2 Corinthians 6:14)?
Because right from the git-go, you will have a worldview that is different. There will have to be compromises made in order for the couple to be friends.
In the important times of life—raising children, enduring the loss of a loved one, etc.—there will differences in how the husband and wife deal with the situation.
If you are unmarried today, I urge you not to listen to the world’s advice for finding a spouse. Do not “follow your heart.” Your heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9)! Instead, follow the Word of God. Find someone who shares your worldview in the most important thing—the Bible and the Gospel it presents.
Once we are married, how do we build our worldview together? Study God’s word together. Pray together. Talk about the big issues of life—discuss ideas and how they intersect with the Bible.
Don’t take it for granted that you will both stay the same—you should be growing—grow together in your worldview.
Friends Remain Loyal Through It All
Another aspect of friendship we can learn from the Bible is loyalty. We see this loyalty illustrated beautifully in the account of David and Jonathan. Even while Jonathan’s father, Saul, became more and more antagonistic against David, Jonathan remained true to his friend.
4 And Jonathan spake good of David unto Saul his father, and said unto him, Let not the king sin against his servant, against David; because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to thee-ward very good: (1 Samuel 19:4)
Jonathan loved and respected his father, to be sure, but he would not follow Saul into sinning against David. He remained loyal and true. David’s son, Solomon would comment later:
17 A friend loveth at all times, And a brother is born for adversity. (Proverbs 17:17)
24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: And there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)
A marriage is to be the place where loyalty is the strongest. After all, what do we say at the wedding?
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
until death do us part.
Why is it wrong to commit adultery? One reason is that adultery represents the ultimate in disloyalty and betrayal of the friendship in a marriage.
How do we build our loyalty together? Here are a couple practical ideas:
- Make a commitment to never consider divorce as an option. Don’t use divorce as a threat in an argument.
- Don’t run down your spouse in front of other people. Try only to defend and praise your spouse in front of others, especially those of the opposite sex.
Friends Help Each Other Grow Spiritually
Several verses point out the truth that friends can help each other become better people, and better lovers of God. Turn to Proverbs 27.
5 Open rebuke is better than secret love. 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (Proverbs 27:5–6)
9 Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: So doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel. (Proverbs 27:9)
The word “hearty” (nephesh) is the Hebrew word for soul. You could say that this is counsel from the soul.
17 Iron sharpeneth iron; So a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. (Proverbs 27:17)
One thing that comes through in these verses is that this encouragement might not be the easiest thing to take, notice these phrases: “Open rebuke,” “wounds of a friend,” “hearty counsel,” and “iron shapeneth iron.”
A test of a friendship can be how you give or respond to one another’s encouragement.
If you are afraid to say something hard to someone, it’s probably because you have doubts about the depth of your friendship.
If you storm off and dump that “so-called friend” after they have just challenged you, perhaps there wasn’t a friendship in the first place.
Maybe this is what Dr. M was getting at when he said that he had few friends and many acquaintances. Maybe there were only a few people in his life that he would give access and permission to help him grow spiritually.
Christians—the church, really—are to be instruments of God in the growth of one another in Christ-likeness. It won’t happen without one another.
James tells us that Christian friends should…
16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. (James 5:16a)
Christian friends admonish one another:
14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. (Romans 15:14)
Christian friends gently confront one another:
1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)
This is what the church is supposed to be doing for one another, but I think we can see from our study in friendship, that it’s not going to be any old Dick or Jane from the local church that does this in your life. Primarily, it’s going to be close friends from church that can admonish you and hold you accountable.
And this brings us back to marriage. Who is going to be the person who knows you best in this life?
Who will know the faults and the sins and the temptations that you struggle with? It should be your spouse.
A husband and wife should be the first to confront sin in the other, to encourage repentance in one another, to help one another grow in Christ together. One of the privileges of friendship—a deep friendship—is that there should be a deep trust that enables us to speak frankly (albeit kindly) to one another about anything.
Think of it this way: if any two unrelated Christians from church are to provoke one another to love and good works, to hold one another spiritually accountable, then how much more should a husband and wife do that?
When Tami and I got married, we moved into an apartment together. We mingled our few possessions together. Over the next few years, we moved to Bemidji, MN together, then to Grand Rapids, MI together, and then to Longville, MN together. We started raising a family together. A husband and wife spend their physical lives together.
But there’s another way that a husband and wife are together. A husband and wife should be on the journey to Heaven together. We are to be together physically and spiritually.
Why do we get married? What is the goal of a marriage? To help one another become more like Christ. Our sights are set on a future version of ourselves. Think about that for a moment. Don’t think about your spouse as they are now. Think of them as they will be in Heaven, when they will be like Jesus.
Doesn’t that change everything about how you view them now? Doesn’t that change what we should look for in a prospective spouse? The world says you just fall in love and feel butterflies in your stomach. Here’s what one pastor said what it means to fall in love as a Christian:
It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of the person God is creating, and to say, “I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, ‘I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!’”
…Each spouse then should give him or herself to be a vehicle for that work and envision the day that you will stand together before God, seeing each other presented in spotless beauty and glory.
That’s the journey that a Christian husband and wife are on! It may begin at an altar in a church, but it ends at the throne of God!
If you aren’t married today, how does this apply to you? If you are a Christian today, you are on the spiritual journey that ends at the throne of God. If you are a Christian, you can have friends in the church—the body of Christ—help you to grow into the image of Christ. That’s what the church is supposed to do!
13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day…(Hebrews 3:13)
Are you allowing this to happen in your life? Do you have close Christian friends that can challenge you and help you grow spiritually?
The friendship in the spiritual journey starts with the friendship of one particular person. Jesus told his disciples:
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
Jesus Christ wants to be your friend. He has already laid down his life for your sins by dying on the cross. You cannot be a friend of Christ without receiving him as your personal Savior. Your sins keep you from being his friend.
Now it’s up to you to respond to his offer of salvation—and friendship—by trusting in him and his sacrifice for you. Have you done that? Have you begun the greatest friendship of all—a friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ?
 Timothy Keller and Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God, 1st ed. [New York: Dutton, 2011], 121.
Levi Durfey—LDM-Marriage-4-Best Friends Forever-Improving Companionship In Your Marriage-20191103FBCAM-SERMON