Key Scriptures: James 4:4, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Proverbs 17:17, 27:17, John 13:1, 15:13, I Samuel 20:1-17, Ruth 1:16, 2 Kings 2:2, Romans 16:4, Mark 2:1-5, John 11:5
Guiding Question: What are the characteristics of a godly friend?
Optional Introductory Activity: Have students work in groups of two or three. Give them three minutes to find as many things as possible they all have in common. Tell students extra credit will be given for unusual things they find they have in common. At the end of three minutes, discover which group had the most number of things in common and have them share their list. Ask students whether or not those things they have in common are good ways to determine whether or not those people should be best friends.
Lesson: (Questions to students are in bold italics.) Read James 4:4. How would you define friendship? What characteristics do you look for in a friend? Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. Show students three pieces of yarn or string. Demonstrate how easy it is to cut through just one strand, but how much more difficult it is to cut through/damage/fray all three when they are twisted together. (Note try this before class to make sure the yarn/string you have chosen works well for this purpose.) If one of these strands represents you and the other one of your friends, what should the third strand be for your relationship to be able to withstand time and help each of you grow? The third strand needs to be God. The friendships that also include God will be very different from the friendships you have that don’t include God. What are some differences you can think of between godly friendships and those where God is not involved? Have students read the following verses and share additional characteristics they reveal: Proverbs 17:17 (godly friend is their no matter what), Proverbs 27:17 (a friend will challenge and encourage you to grow spiritually and develop and use your gifts to serve God), John 13:1 (Jesus modeled loving friends until the very end), John 15:13 (willing to sacrifice everything to help a friend). Read I Samuel 20:1-17. What was so unusual and special about the friendship between Jonathan and David? Both knew David was to replace Saul’s family as King of Israel one day. In that time, this meant Jonathan most likely would face an early and probably unpleasant death. Jonathan was still willing to help protect David even though he knew it would mean his own untimely death eventually. David in turn promised to protect Jonathan’s family once he became king. This was almost unheard of in the ancient world. Kings would even kill members of their own family – including parents and siblings – to prevent someone challenging their right to rule. Members of another ruling family who had been overthrown would face almost certain death. David not only kept his promise to Jonathan many years later, but went one step farther and made Jonathan’s son a part of his household. What other godly friendships can you think of in the Bible? Have students read these examples in addition to any they may mention: Ruth 1:16 (Ruth and Naomi), 2 Kings 2:2 (Elijah and Elisha), Romans 16:3-4 (Priscilla, Aquila and Paul), Mark 2:1-5 (friends of paralyzed man), John 11:5 (Jesus, Mary, Martha and Lazarus). What are some ways God can be even more present in your friendships with other Christians? (Have students brainstorm practical ideas like studying the Bible together, praying for each other, encouraging each other to serve and share their faith, etc.)
Application Challenge: Take some time this week to think about your friendships. Which ones include God? Are the friendships that don’t include God beginning to gradually pull you away from God? What practical things can you do to make God more important in your friendship? Try to add one of those ideas to at least one of your friendships this week.
Authors: Bobby McVey and Scott Gage