Three Kinds of Friendship —With fellow man, with self, and with God
This is a simple lesson outline about friendship. Friendship should extend into three realms, firstly, that of our brother man, secondly that of self, and thirdly that of God. Unless we have friendship in each of those realms, we are not happy. Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to have all three kinds of friendship.
Friendship is an affinity with others, characterized by a harmony, unity, respect, fellowship, and love. The story of Lazarus being raised from the dead not only shows us the mighty power of Jesus; it shows that he had friends, and loved them, just as most people do (John 11).
1 Friendship with People
The basis of true friendship with fellow men and women is the golden rule. "As you want people to treat you, treat them in the same way"(Luke 6:31).
Behind that golden rule is this one: "Think of others as more important than yourself"(Philippians 2:3).
Another way to say these rules is, "Love your neighbour as yourself"(Matthew 22:39).
We can be friends with people without approving their wrongdoing or participating in it. We can be friends with people while avoiding "friendship with the world"(James 4:4).
2 Friendship with Yourself
The way to be friends with yourself is to see yourself for what you really are, created "in the image of God"(Genesis 1:27) and "made a little lower than the angels"(Hebrews 2:6-8).
You also need a cleansed conscience because you cannot be friends with yourself while you condemn yourself. We can all have "our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience"(Hebrews 10:22).
You, like anyone else, can "repent and be converted that your sins may be blotted out"(Acts 3:19) Once God forgives you, then you can forgive yourself. Once you have forgiven yourself, then you can be friends with yourself.
We can be "Buried with him through baptism... united with him in the likeness of his death... our old self crucified with him..."(Romans 6:3-11) When you let Christ replace your old self with a new self, you can be friends with yourself.
3 Friendship with God
We become friends of God in the same way that we become friends of ourselves. When we come to God by faith in Christ, we enter into a friendship with God.
"Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called the friend of God"(James 2:23).
Of course our faith must include obedience for "faith without works is dead"(James 2:21-26).
"Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? Notice that faith was working with his works, and faith was perfected by his works. So the scripture was fulfilled which says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness' and he was called the Friend of God" (James 2:21-23).
"You see then that a person is justified by works and not by faith only... faith without works is dead" (James 2:24,26).
We become friends of God by becoming friends of Jesus, who said, "If you love me you will keep my commandments... You are my friends if you do whatever I command you"(John 14:15 and 15:14).